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NDFP tells government, ‘Do not criminalize children’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemned the government for seeking to lower the age of criminal responsibility of children from 15 to 9 or 12 years old.                                 

In going after young children, the NDFP’s Special Office for the Protection of Children (SOPC) said the Rodrigo Duterte government has “intensified its attack on the toiling masses of the Filipino people, particularly the children.”

“Not content with the burning and bombing of alternative tribal schools and the extra-judicial killings of young children in its anti-drug war, the regime has now set its sight on legalizing and institutionalizing its ruthless and vicious assaults against Filipino children’s rights,” the office said in a statement.

The NDFP said the government is using as basis children who are rampantly exploited by crime syndicates, particularly drug syndicates, as basis for its move.

This move of the Duterte regime is a violation of the international law on the rights of children, the NDFP , through its SOPC chairperson and Negotiating Panel member Coni Ledesma, said .

The Committee on Justice of the House of Representative overwhelmingly approved the proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility to nine years old last week while its Senate counterpart—headed by Senator Richard Gordon—said it will recommend a 12-year old limit.

 “You have to make him (Duterte) win. Eh galit na galit ‘yung tao e. kung makita niyo mukha ng Presidente, galit talaga sya sa drugs eh,” Gordon said. (He is really angry. If you see the President’s face, he really hates drugs.)

Earlier, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also said their move is in support of Duterte’s wish to lower the age of criminal responsibility.

The NDFP, however, said Duerte is mistaken in wanting to punish children.

“Statistics show that only two percent of crimes committed are by minors.  Of this two percent, 92 percent are crimes of petty theft and other non-serious offenses,” Ledesma said.

Ledesma also raised fears that jailing young children with older and hardened criminals would only encourage them to eventually become adult criminals themselves.

The NDFP said criminalizing children is not the cure for the criminality among the Filipino youth. 

“The solution is to address the root causes of poverty, and the building a society that is free from oppression and exploitation. That will ensure that children will realize their great potential to make positive contributions to society and so, they will not get involved in criminal activities,” Ledesma said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP blames Año’s arrest threat for cancelled trip

YOGJAKARTA, Indonesia—Europe-based National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiators announced they cancelled their planned trip to the Philippines and possible meeting with Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) President Rodrigo Duterte, blaming interior and local government secretary Eduardo Año’s threat to have them arrested.

In a statement today, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said  he and fellow peace negotiator Coni Ledesma and senior adviser Luis Jalandoni have decided to forego their trip to the Philippines after Año said last November 16 that they will be arrested upon arrival.

“On November 16, DILG Sec. Eduardo Año issued a statement that we would be arrested upon our arrival unless the President says otherwise,” Agcaoili said.

“As a consequence, we decided in the following day to forego with the trip of Mr. Jalandoni and Ms. Ledesma whose names are in the so-called proscription case against the CPP and NPA,” he explained.

Agcaoili also clarified that his name was not included in the 600 persons listed by the Department of Justice in its terrorist proscription case against the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army last January.

He added that as far as he knows, there are no outstanding cases against him in any GRP court that could be a basis for his arrest.

Not ready

Agcaoili said that Duterte announced in Papua New Guinea last Friday while attending a summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations that he is not yet prepared to resume talks with the revolutionary movement.

He also revealed that they have been informed by the GRP last Sunday, November 18, that the appointment with the President had been cancelled and that he would only be meeting with presidential spokesperson Salvador  Panelo and presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza.

“[S]uch a meeting might not prove useful without a new perspective. As a consequence, we decided that I also forego with my trip scheduled for that evening for security consideration,” Agcaoili said.

He said that a meeting with Duterte had been scheduled on November 23 while they are in Manila, “considering that more than three months have passed since the GRP postponed the scheduled resumption of formal talks in Oslo, Norway, on June 28, 2018.”

Earlier, Duterte disclosed he is thinking about resuming the peace talks and has consulted the military about the matter.

“I will not keep it a secret. I do not want (it to be) confidential. They will come here. They want to talk to me. Their problem is they might be arrested,” Duterte said.

Other cancelled meetings

Because of the cancellation, Agcaoili said they failed to attend a meeting with the new Royal Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines scheduled yesterday.

The Royal Norwegian Government is the Third Party Facilitator to the NDFP-GRP peace process.

Agcaoili earlier said their trip was primarily in connection with his and Ledesma’s work as members of the NDFP section in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The JMS’ office is in Cubao, Quezon City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDFP-Duterte meeting up to the President–Agcaoili

The possible meeting between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is up to President Rodrigo Duterte, the Left’s chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said they welcome the opportunity to meet with Duterte “unless he does not want to or his military is against it.”

In a speech in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan Saturday, Duterte said he is thinking of meeting with the NDFP negotiators.

“I called for a cluster meeting including the military. ‘So what do you think?’ They said, ‘Maybe. Perhaps maybe.’ It’s not a very big margin there, but ‘maybe,’” Duterte said.

Agcaoli said in a statement that he and fellow NDFP Negotiating Panel member Coni Ledesma have a scheduled trip to the Philippines in connection with their work as members of the NDFP component in the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

The NDFP and the GRP has a joint secretariat office in Quezon City where a total of 6,898 human rights violations complaints have been filed since June 2004 to March 2018.

The NDFP said 4,886 complaints have been received against GRP forces while 2,012 have been filed against the NDFP.

Agcaoili however earlier said majority of their complaints against their forces were nuisance complaints manufactured and filed by GRP agencies.

Agcaoili said they would be accompanied by NDFP Negotiating Panel senior adviser Luis Jalandoni.

Their trip would also include a meeting with the new Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Bjørn Jahnsen, he added.

Agcaoili gave no dates on their arrival and their possible meeting with Duterte.

Duterte has cancelled the peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP since November last year. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

‘We are working hard to finish the socio-economic reform agenda’–Coni Ledesma

Long-time NDFP Negotiating Panel member Coni Ledesma said the fourth round of their peace negotiations with the Duterte government has moved forward.

Ledesma said both parties are working hard to finish negotiations on socio-economic reforms to improve the lives of the Filipino people.