SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Reference: Rupert Estanislao, chairperson
In another blow against the peace process, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Benjamin Mendoza was illegally arrested after an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) raid in Quezon City on October 6th. Along with Mendoza, three other companions, including his wife Josephine, were also arrested during the raid by the 2nd Infinity Division.
Mendoza, who is 61-years-old, is a consultant in the peace process for the NDFP and has been issued a Document of Identification in line with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) which was an agreement signed by the NDFP and the Philippine Government during the time of President Fidel Ramos in order to help move the peace process along.
“This is yet another example of President Aquino, and the AFP, throwing up obstacles in the way of peace,” said Rupert Estanislao, chair of the San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF CHRP). “The Aquino administration has overseen more than 100 political killings in the past 28 months and he has yet to release the more than 400 political prisoners languishing in jail.”
During peace talks in February of 2011 the Aquino administration agreed to speed up the process in freeing identified NDFP consultants languishing in jail on trumped up charges of murder, possession of firearms, and other common criminal offenses. The issue of dozens of NDFP consultants and hundreds of other activists languishing in jail is one of the main reasons why the peace process has stalled. The current situation of NDFP consultants illegally arrested and detained is a violation of not just JASIG, but also the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
“Not only has Aquino overseen gross human rights violations, but he is also building up the distinction for making a mockery of the peace process by continuing to violate JASIG and CARHRIHL with the arrest of Mendoza and other key NDFP consultants.” Said Estanislao. “By continuing to file trumped up charges against NDFP consultants, like Mendoza, the Aquino administration has shown its disregard for CARHRIHL as that previous agreement explicitly forbades the targeting of NDFP consultants through the filing of trumped up charges.”
JASIG is an agreement meant to protect all parties involved in the peace process between the Philippine Government and the NDFP in order to end the 43 year armed conflict. CARHRIHL was another agreement signed by the NDFP and the Philippine government which was meant to hold both parties accountable to humanitarian and human rights laws and agreements.
“With the arrest of Mendoza, the Aquino regime is violating his rights of protection under JASIG,” commented Estanislao. “As one of the newest political prisoners in the Philippines, he is in danger of being charged with common crimes and other trumped up charges such as murder and firearms possession, which is illegal under CARHRIHL. As with many political prisoners in the Philippines, almost all of these common crime charges are based on very little evidence that usually don’t hold up in a court of law.”
“We call on the Aquino administration to respect the peace process and take it seriously and not just use it as a propaganda tool,” demanded Estanislao. “Aquino can’t keep telling the Filipino people, and the world, that he stands for reform and for peace while he continues to violate JASIG, CARHRIHL, and make a mockery of the peace process with the arrest of NDFP consultants such as Mendoza.”
“We also can’t forget the climate of impunity that pervades the Aquino administration and the continuing violation of the rights of the Filipino people with the counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, which has lead to the assassination of over 100 people.” Continued Estanislao, “If the Aquino administration is serious about ending the conflict with the New People’s Army, then it needs to release Mendoza, and all political prisoners, and end the demonizing, targeting, and killing of national democratic activists and those who speak out against corruption and human rights violations.”