NDFP Accuses Philippine Government of Procrastinating In Honoring Past Agreements Concerning the Release of Political Prisoners

UTRECHT, The Netherlands — Peace negotiators from the National Democratic Front of the Philippines said they are “uneasy” and “impatient” over the “excruciating” delay in the release of political prisoners in the country.

In a statement Wednesday, Oct. 12, Dan Borjal, spokesperson for the NDF panel said “There are more than 400 political prisoners still languishing in various jails nationwide. So far, the GRP has released only 22 political prisoners, most of them NDFP consultants. There have been no other releases since August.”

Although the GRP Panel promised “to do their best,” Borjal said “Cynicism is now growing among some of the NDFP negotiators and consultants as well as among the remaining political prisoners on account of so many unfulfilled promises.”

For his part, NDF chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said “if the GRP could effect the speedy release of the 22 JASIG-protected NDFP consultants why the seemingly excruciating difficulty in releasing the rest of the political prisoners?”

In the joint statement signed by the government of the Philippines and the NDFP on Sunday, Oct. 9, the Parties agreed to expedite the release of three remaining NDF consultants who are protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees namely, Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan, and Leopoldo Caloza.

“The GRP shall release the prisoners who are listed by the NDFP in accordance with the CARHRIHL pending the approval of the proposed amnesty for their benefit,” the joint statement reads.

“The GRP Panel affirms its commitment to work for the release of these prisoners in expeditious and acceptable modes,” it added.

Prior to the second round of peace talks, The GRP panel submitted a draft amnesty proclamation to the Office of the President covering 434 detained leaders and alleged members of the CPP, NPA and NDFP.

The NDF earlier included in the list 81 detained rebels who it wanted already released based on humanitarian grounds.

Not just a matter of agreement

Porferio Tuna, one of the NDF peace consultants from Mindanao and a member of the Reciprocal Working Group on the end of hostilities and disposition of forces said “peace negotiations is not just a matter of signing agreements but implementing what was agreed upon must be done.”

NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said the release of the political prisoners is a “big incentive” to the peace talks.

NDF leaders said continued non-compliance on the issue of the remaining political prisoners can have serious consequences in the continuation of the peace negotiations as a whole.

The next round of talks is set on the third week of January next month.