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Senator Madrigal, NDFP call for resumption of peace talks
Article posted November 11, 2008 - 07:27 PM

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Maria Ana Madrigal and exiled leaders of the Philippine communist movement want the government to free political detainees who were ordered released since 2001 as a confidence-building measure to help pave the way for the resumption of peace talks.

In a joint statement, Madrigal and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel members also want President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to replace retired General Hermogenes Esperon as peace adviser and to prosecute human rights violations arising from the government’s anti-insurgency operations.

Esperon “has proven to be a major stumbling block to the resumption of the peace talks," said the statement, released on Tuesday after the senator’s meeting with the NDFP panelists on Sunday and Monday in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

They also urged the government to drop “false charges" against NDFP panelists, consultants and staffers, in accordance with the 1 June 2007 Supreme Court decision; and to carry out the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions to abolish Arroyo's Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG).

The joint statement expressed the hope that the informal talks of the government and the NDFP to be facilitated by the Norwegian government later this month would “pave the way for the resumption of formal talks, in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration (of 1992) and other existing bilateral agreements."

Formal peace talks need to be immediately resumed “for the benefit of the Filipino people, because of the impact of the global economic crisis on (the Philippines), as well as renewed upsurge in political killings, enforced disappearances and mass filing of false charges against political activists," said the statement.

The joint statement also called on the government of the Netherlands to respect Philippine judicial processes and “to stop poisoning the atmosphere for peace negotiations between the two parties in conflict."

Madrigal, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation, visited Utrecht to follow up on the developments of the government and NDFP peace negotiations. She exchanged information with the NDFP negotiating panel on the status, impediments and prospects of the peace talks and on the work of her Senate committee.

The statement called on the Dutch government to “cease and desist from using false charges to oppress, pressure or harass NDFP panelists, consultants and staffers."

They reminded the Dutch government of the June 1, 2007 decision of the Philippine Supreme Court which already nullified the charge of rebellion against Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant to the NDFP panel, and others, “including the false allegations regarding the Kintanar and Tabara killings."

“These politically motivated and false charges," the statement asserted, “have served to impede and poison the atmosphere for peace negotiations."

Dutch police arrested Sison on August 28, 2007, alleging that he masterminded the killing of government security officers Romulo Kintanar in 2003 and Arturo Tabara in 2004.

Dutch authorities also simultaneously ransacked the NDFP information office in Utrecht and the private homes of NDFP panelists and volunteer staff members, including the home of NDFP negotiating panel chairperson Luis G. Jalandoni,"to obtain so-called evidences for the trumped up charges."

The District Court of the Hague ordered the release of Sison on October 13, 2007, citing insufficient evidence in the case filed against him.

Jalandoni and Sison signed the joint statement for the NDFP negotiating panel. Other peace panelists present in the discussions were Fidel V. Agcaoili, Julieta de Lima and Coni Ledesma. Also present were NDFP political consultant Danilo Borjal, and Senator Madrigal's legislative officers J. Gary Jimenez and Romando Artes. - D’Jay Lazaro, GMANews.TV

All Rights Reserved. 2006 © GMA Network Inc.

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