MANILA –The Department of National Defense on Tuesday said there is no need any more for the government to issue a formal notice of the termination of peace talks since President Rodrigo Duterte has already made a public announcement on the matter.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana made the clarification during a press briefing in Malacañang after the National Democratic Front (NDF) pointed out that they have yet to receive a formal notice from the government peace panel on the termination of the peace negotiations.
“What could be a more formal announcement of the termination of the peace talks than the statement of the President? Kung hinihintay nila siguro ‘yung black and white, ewan ko kung darating pa ‘yun,” he said.
The NDF has stated that the mode of termination of the peace negotiations is defined under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
The JASIG, signed on February 24, 1995 is effective and binding upon the parties for the duration of the peace negotiations, unless terminated by written notice given by one party to the other.
It is deemed terminated “30 days after receipt of the notice of termination.”
“But the fact is, the President came on national TV saying that wala na, tapos na ‘yung peace talks, I’m recalling all my people back home if they are abroad,” Lorenzana pointed out.
The Defense Secretary likewise said that President Duterte’s order to return to jail the NDF consultants who were temporarily freed to participate in the peace negotiations have legal basis despite NDF protestations that said consultants “are all protected from re-arrest in accordance with the JASIG.”
“I think they are not covered by the JASIG because according to the President, they were set free for the purpose of talking. (The) peace talks ay hindi naman JASIG ‘yung basis niyan for releasing them but for the peace talks,” he said.
“But since the talks are already terminated, wala ng basis sila na free sila. So they could be arrested. That’s what I understand from the President’s instruction,” Lorenzana said.
He added that while they have yet to fully implement the President’s directive, he is calling on the concerned NDF consultants to just voluntarily surrender instead of going into hiding.
He said that it was the same as the recommendation of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Eduardo Año.
“I have talked with (Presidential Advise on the Peace Process) Secretary Jesus Dureza. Sabi ko kung pwede ‘yung mga nandiyan they will turn themselves in so that they will be treated accordingly; na hindi ‘yung habul-habulin pa sila,” the Defense Secretary said.
“But if there are feelers that they are going to surrender, we will accept them and we will treat them accordingly; granting them special privileges because they are also, you know, they’ve been talking peace talks with us for quite some time already,” Lorenzana said.