GRP now cracking down on friends and family of detained NDFP consultants — lawyer

The alleged safehouse in Marikina raided by the police Saturday is a family home, a lawyer of detained National Democratic Front of the Philippine (NDFP) peace consultants said.

Public Interest Law Center managing counsel Rachel Pastores said police claims that the house located at 34-A Chrysanthemum St., Loyola Residents, Barangay Barangka was a safehouse where guns grenades were kept is “preposterous”.

“How utterly preposterous. Gamara was found staying above a coffee shop in the sentro of Imus City, with the police station a stone’s throw away. The house in Marikina, which the police claimed was another hideout, is a family home,” Pastores in a statement said.

Earlier, National Capital Region Police Office director P/Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the police applied for another search warrant to conduct the raid in Marikina after they recovered a suspected fake identification card on Gamara bearing the address.

Eleazar said that several documents, a seafarer’s identification and a record book, two hand grenades and a 9mm pistol were confiscated during the operation conducted Friday morning.

“We are now looking for the caretaker of the house identified as Ryan Dizon. He was not around when the search warrant was implemented on Friday,” Eleazar said.

Pastores, however, said acquaintances, old friends, and family of peace consultants are now clear targets of police and military, who have come together in a crackdown against peace consultants and advocates.

“Planting firearms and explosives is the police grasping at straws, because there is no legitimate reason to arrest or investigate the persons found therein, nor the peace consultants themselves,” Pastores said.

The lawyer recalled that retired priest Arturo Balagat arrested with Gamara in Imus was later found by the prosecutor general to have no criminal intent and ties with the peace consultant other than graciously giving him shelter and food.

But the police has threatened to have Balagat’s cooperative’s licenses and registration cancelled, Pastores said.

“Both army and police officials must temper their braggadocio, not until their competence and intelligence catch up,” Pastores said.

The lawyer also criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict it created for being very busy in picking up “sick, defenseless, and unarmed” NDFP peace consultants.

“When Francisco Fernandez and Cleofe Lagtapon, likewise peace consultants, were arrested in Laguna a week ago, the army claimed to have also found them with pistols and grenades – and then, paradoxically, crowed over how weak and vulnerable they were,” Pastores said.

“Executive Order No. 70 wants to put an end to the roots of the insurgency and reclaim the peace, but why do its implementors spawn more injustice along the way? Long-drawn vendetta, disbalance of power and inequities, as demonstrated in the illegal arrests and detention of peace consultants, only pose more reasons to resist,” she added.

Pastores said they are confident that charges against Gamara, Fernandez, Lagtapon, as well as the others victims of planted evidence and perjured testimonies, will be eventually dismissed and disposed of. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Another guns and explosives possession charge against newly-arrested NDFP consultant

Guess what charges were filed against arrested National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Renante Gamara.

Like the complaints filed against four NDFP consultants it arrested in succession in 2018, the Philippine National Police (PNP) charged Gamara and his companion, retired priest Arturo Balagat, with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Gamara and Balagat were arrested Wednesday afternoon in Poblacion II-A, Imus, Cavite  and are being held at present at the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) of the PNP in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City yesterday.

Like his fellow NDFP consultants Rafael Baylosis, Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad and Rey Claro Casambre, Gamara is facing charges of violations of RA 10591, the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.

The PNP said a .9 mm caliber pistol and two hand grenades were recovered from the detainees when arrested.

Gamara’s arrest brings to five the number of NDFP peace consultants arrested since President Rodrigo Duterte terminated peace talks with the Left in November 2017.

The youngest NDFP peace consultant, Randy Felix Malayao, 59, was killed inside a bus in Nueva Vizcaya last January 30.

Baylosis was released last January, however, after the Quezon city Regional Trial court dismissed the charges against him.

Duterte again announced his termination of the peace talks with the NDFP Thursday, three days after dissolving his negotiating panel led by labor secretary Silvestre Bello III.


Human rights group Karapatan condemned Gamara and Balagat’s arrest and accused the police of filing yet another illegal firearms and explosives possession against the consultant.

“This is not only a time of unpeace where there is prevalence of human rights violations and impunity, it is also a period of targeted persecution and intimidation against those who continue to clamor for peace,” said Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor. 

“The government has again zeroed in on the persecution of peace consultants, instead of working to resolve the root causes of the armed conflict by way of pursuing peace negotiations,” Clamor added.

Karapatan revealed that the search warrant presented by the police in arresting Gamara was issued by the same Laguna court that ordered the arrest of Silva and four others in October 2018.

The Search Warrant was granted by Executive Judge Cynthia Marino-Ricablanca of RTC Branch 27 of the 4th Judicial Region of Sta. Cruz, Laguna. 

Karapatan, however, said Gamara, 62, took part in the peace negotiations
after posting bail on August 2016 as a consultant to the reciprocal working group on political and constitutional reforms.

“He is supposedly covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), an agreement that seeks to provide protection and “free and unhindered” passage for individuals involved in the peace negotiations,” Clamor explained

‘A spectacle’

Human rights lawyer Kristina Conti, the first to come to Gamara’s aid in Taguig said the grounds presented by the police in arresting Gamara and Balagat are all dubious as the two have no pending warrant in the courts.

Conti told Kodao that the bail Gamara posted in August 2016 when he was first released to enable his participation in formal peace negotiations throughout Europe applies to his previous cases.

Conti added it is grossly ignorant for the PNP to say that “Duterte ordered his arrest” because the president is not a proper judicial authority.

She added that the JASIG is still binding and it does not authorize the arrest of anyone without warrant or color of authority.

She also said that the firearms and explosives presented by the police were not owned by the detainees.

“They have no need for it…Mr Gamara is not wanted, not in hiding, and certainly not in possession of any contraband,” the lawyer told Kodao.

Conti also hit the the Regional Special Operations Unit of the NCRPO’s haste in calling for a press conference rather than ensuring the detainees’ right to due process.

“[T]o show that this was a political spectacle, RSOU prioritized the press con over preparing for the inquest,” Conti said.

NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili for his part called Gamara and Balagat’s arrest as illegal and condemnible.

“[T]he NDFP condemns in the strongest terms possible the illegal arrest of NDFP consultant Renante Gamara. As NDFP consultant in political and constitutional reforms, he is entitled to JASIG protection and guarantees,” Agcaoili told Kodao.

“The NDFP also protests the arrest of retired priest Fr. Art Balagat as another sign of the continuing persecution against churchpeople by the Duterte regime,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP agents arrest NDFP peace consultant Renante Gamara

A National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant was arrested by combined police, military and intelligence agents Wednesday night two days after President Rodrigo Duterte dissolved his government’s negotiating panel with the Left.

Renante Gamara, NDFP peace consultant for the National Capital Region, was arrested by the Regional Special Operations Unit of the National Capital Region Police Office-Philippine National Police, Philippine Army and intelligence agents last night and was first brought to Camp General Pantaleon Garcia in Imus, Cavite.

An alert from peasant group Kasama-Timog Katagalugan said Gamara and his captors arrived at the camp at around 10:30 in the evening but left at about 11:06 in the evening.

The group said they have yet to know where Gamara was arrested.

Human rights workers who reportedly tried to check on Gamara were refused entry to the camp and were forced to keep vigil outside the gates throughout last night.

Their pictures were also reportedly taken by police officers.

This morning, a source close to Gamara’s family told Kodao that the peace consultant is currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Gamara was among the NDFP peace consultant released in August 2016 to participate in formal peace negotiations in Europe.

Gamara’s re-arrest brings to four the number of NDFP peace consultants behind bars.

Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad and Rey Claro Casambre were arrested in succession late last year after repeated attempts to revive the stalled peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP failed.

Rafael Baylosis was first arrested in January 2018 but was eventually released last January 18 after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court threw out trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against him.

Twelve days later, NDFP peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao was killed inside a bus in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya last January 30.

Last Monday, March 18, Duterte dissolved the GRP Negotiating Panel and fired all its members.

In a statement Wednesday, new Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the GRP has suspended the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) that should provide immunity to peace negotiators from arrest and harassment.

The NDFP for its part has repeatedly said that the JASIG remains in place until a month after both parties have mutually and formally agreed to finally end the peace process in accordance with agreed-upon procedures.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)