What has stalled the peace process | Inquirer Opinion
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What has stalled the peace process

/ 12:04 AM April 10, 2014

In her column “Dogs and Cats” (At Large, 4/1/14), Rina Jimenez-David wrote a smirking take on our arrest. She chose to dwell on the official version of the arrest and joined in muddling some real questions.

First, the trumped-up charge of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. This was the context in which the “captured” pets first gained attention. The military and police spokespersons then conjured up the idea of supposedly pampered pets to swamp this issue—a ploy that Jimenez-David eagerly backed and fancifully stretched to greater muddle and scorn.

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The fabricated charge was filed to indefinitely detain the seven arrested persons without sufficient cause. Our lawyers challenged the highly irregular inquest for the charge. But the justice department’s prosecution panel, acting as a virtual tag team with the police prosecution team, hastily certified the filing of formal charges and ordered our detention.

Though a common practice, the filing of charges based on planted evidence is a gross violation of human rights. It breeds widespread cynicism about the “rule of law” and the state’s human rights policy. The inquest circus only goes to show that the leading purveyors of this sordid practice are not the common soldiers and policemen but those at the very top of state authority.

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In this regard, it is well to remember what former chief justice Artemio Panganiban wrote in his column “For the legal profession” (With Due Respect, 3/30/14): “Filing baseless charges, whether for money or malice, is not only unethical. It is brazenly criminal.”

Second, the implementation of the Jasig (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees) and other signed agreements between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. This concerns the basic principle of negotiating in good faith, respecting the mutually agreed upon framework of peace talks as established by The Hague Joint Declaration, and implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Law signed in 1998.

The peace process has been deliberately stalled by the Arroyo and Aquino regimes in the mistaken belief that a short-cut military solution is achievable. The former banked on US military assistance in line with the US “global war on terror” and unleashed Oplan Bantay Laya. The latter continued with Oplan Bayanihan, thinking that its mystique and media drumbeats could reduce the revolutionary forces to sitting ducks for military decimation and complete inconsequence.

Both the Arroyo and Aquino regimes have done their best to cast aside the framework agreed upon in The Hague: nonsurrender and addressing the roots of the civil war with the end in view of forging agreements on basic socioeconomic and political reforms. All the noise about communist recalcitrance and now, being supposed spoilers, are meant to camouflage the suspension of the Jasig and the freeze of the peace talks to make way for all-out military offensives and an all-out shame campaign in the media.

With Jimenez-David at a loss on how to set the peace process on the right foot, we suggest for a start that the real score on what has stalled it in the last 13 years or so be laid down.

—BENITO TIAMZON and WILMA TIAMZON,

national consultants, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, c/o [email protected]

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TAGS: Artemio Panganiban, firearms, Oplan Bantay Laya, oplan bayanihan, peace process, Possession, Rina Jimenez-David
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