’’The release of political prisoners is not a pre-condition set by the NDFP for the continuation of the peace talks; it is a commitment by the GPH made last February in Oslo,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson and an independent observer to the peace talks between the GPH and the NDFP.
Hilao-Enriquez is referring to the GPH and NDF Oslo Joint Statement of February 21, 2011 where the GPH committed “undertake steps for the release of prisoners and detainees, including those committed to be released as found in the Second Oslo Joint Statement of 2004.”
The peace talks between the GPH and the NDFP formally opened last February in Oslo, Norway. It was the first round of talks under the P-Noy administration. The panel-to-panel talks was scheduled to resume last June but was postponed due to the delay in the release of political prisoners as promised by the GPH.
Earlier, KARAPATAN called for the release of some 354 political detainees, 17 of whom are NDFP consultants to the peace negotiations. All 17 are protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), an agreement signed between the GPH and the NDFP way back in 1995.
The February 2011 Oslo Joint Statement also states that the GPH shall “continue to work on appropriate measures to effect the expeditious release of all or most of the fourteen (14) NDFP listed JASIG consultants and personalities before the second round of formal talks, subject to verification as provided in the JASIG Supplemental Agreement dated June 26, 1996, or on the basis of humanitarian and other practical reasons.”
According to Hilao-Enriquez, “the release of the political prisoners is well within the purview of the GPH. If he wills, the President could release the political prisoners by granting a general, unconditional and omnibus (GUO) amnesty to all. The GUO amnesty could very well be the expeditious way the GPH is looking for to effect the release of all political prisoners.”
August 5, 2011
Angge Santos, Public Information Officer, +639189790580
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson, +639175616800