Termination of peace talks voids safe conduct passes; consultants no longer immune to arrest

Published March 23, 2019, 5:06 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Aaron Recuenco 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Saturday it will no longer honor safe conduct passes that were earlier issued to the consultants tapped by the communist rebels for the peace negotiations with the government.

Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Marine Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo said their decision stemmed from the decision of President Duterte to permanently stop the peace negotiations between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) through the National Democratic Front.

“Safe conduct passes (SCPs) that were issued to individuals for purposes of being consultant to the peace negotiations ipso facto loses efficacy when the peace negotiation, which is the SCP’s reason for being, has been terminated,” said Arevalo.

It was recalled that Duterte has ordered the stop of the peace negotiations, starting off when the communist rebels reportedly continuously attack soldiers and policemen despite the ongoing negotiations.

“I am officially announcing the permanent termination of our talks between the Government Panel and the Communist Party of the Philippines,” Duterte said in his speech during the Philippine Army anniversary.

“My sense is that you can maybe talk to the next president of this Republic one day,” he added.

Negotiations with the communist rebels, however, continue through the localized peace talks.

Earlier, Duterte also cancelled the appointment of five negotiators for the government side.

Arevalo said the cancellation of the peace talks also mean that NDFP consultants already lost their immunity from arrest.

“This follows that such individuals availing of such SCPs may now be validly arrested,” he stressed.

The NPA has been waging more than four decades of armed struggle against the government.