GRP arrests NDFP consultant

Arbitrario (second from right) at the closing ceremony of the first round of talks in Oslo, Norway in August last year.

ARIEL ARBITRARIO, a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant who participated in formal peace negotiations in Norway last year, was arrested by combined Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) military and police forces this morning in Davao City.

Arbitrario and his companions Roderick Mamuyac, reportedly a member of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, and Jun Sindac were apprehended at a military checkpoint in Toril District at 10 o’clock this morning.

The three were taken to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) office in San Pedro, Davao City. Sindac was immediately released.

Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Capt. Rhayan Batchar confirmed Arbitrario’s arrest which he said was based on Duterte’s speech in Cagayan de Oro yesterday.

Duterte has also ordered the military and the Bureau of Immigration to be on the lookout for the whereabouts of NDFP consultants released on bail by the courts August last year.

According to human rights group Karapatan, the CIDG planned to bring Arbitrario to Regional Trial Court 11 Branch 1 in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province.

Another JASIG violation

The NDFP condemned the arrest and identified Arbitrario as its Consultant for Mindanao.

“Arbitrario is a publicly-known consultant in the peace talks and is the holder of NDFP Document of Identification Number PP 978542 dated 22 August 2016 that has been duly acknowledged by GRP Chairperson Silvestre H. Bello III on 16 September 2016,” NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said Arbitrario is therefore covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and is immune from arrest in the performance of his duties and responsibilities in the peace negotiations.

“We must remind the GRP that the peace negotiations are ongoing,” Agcaoili said, adding that under the terms of the JASIG, the GRP is obliged to send the NDFP a written notice of termination that would take effect only 30 days after our receipt of such notice.

“In the meanwhile, all agreements that have been reaffirmed and signed between the two Parties remain in full force and effect, including the JASIG, the CARHRIHL and the Joint Statements signed in Oslo and Rome in August 2016, October 2016, and January 2017 respectively,” Agcaoili said.

Under the Agreement, the companions of Arbitrario when he was arrested are also covered by the protection of the JASIG, Agcaoili explained.

“Our lawyers have advised us that Arbitrario’s release last August is secured by bail. Even in accordance with GRP’s own laws and processes, Arbitrario´s arrest is in contravention of GRP’s own rules of procedures as he is claimed to be under the jurisdiction of GRP courts,” he said.

Karapatan also cried foul over Arbitrario’s arrest, noting the GRP Negotiating Panel has yet to formally notify its NDFP counterpart of the termination of formal peace negotiations between the two parties.

“With the arrest of peace consultant Ariel Arbitario this morning, the Armed Forces of the Philippines is clearly taking advantage of the verbal orders of President Rodrigo Duterte. The JASIG is still in force,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Arbitrario was first arrested February 16 last year along with his brother Crispulo in Tagum City, Davao del Norte by the Philippine Army, alleging that he was the secretary of the New People’s Army’s Guerilla Front 2 under its Southern Mindanao Regional Committee. (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Arbitrario (second from right) with fellow NDFP peace consultants and Royal Norwegian Government’s Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Forner (seventh from left) in Oslo, Norway.


Arbitrario (third from left) upon arriving in Oslo with fellow NDFP peace consultants.