US based multi-racial rights group condemns arrest of peace negotiator Baylosis

A demonstrator reads a statement denouncing the Philippine government’s arrest of a consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in the recently terminated peace talks. Behind him are other speakers who have been symbolically gagged to represent the suppression of press freedom in the Philippines. Photo © Abner Galino

A HASTILY called demonstration was held Monday in front of Philippine Consulate General’s office here in Los Angeles by mostly Filipino-American youths to denounce the recent arrest of communist leader Rafael Baylosis.

Baylosis was a consultant to the National Democratic Front’s (NDF) negotiating panel in the recently terminated peace talks with the Philippine government.

The demonstrators, belonging to the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), took turns in denouncing, among others, the use of US taxpayers’ money to violate human rights in the Philippines after which the speakers were symbolically gagged by their colleagues to represent the alleged suppression of press freedom in the Philippines.

Joy Prim, ICHRP Southern California network coordinator, told reporters that the multi-racial alliance was “concerned and outraged” by the recent arrest of Baylosis by Philippine government agents. She said the ICHRP believes that Baylosis’ arrest was a violation of the rules of the peace talks between the NDF and the Philippine government.

“You cannot unilaterally terminate peace talks. There is an internationally recognized mechanism to do that,” Prim explained.

Prim added that the termination of the peace talks also reflected on President Rodrigo Duterte’s lack of sincerity to pursue the “people’s desire for a just and lasting peace.”

She urged the Philippine government should return to the peace negotiations.

“Peace negotiations are hard. They are not easy. But when you really commit honestly and openly to that process, people’s lives are saved and the reasons for the sufferings could really be addressed without more people dying,” Prim concluded.

In the Philippines, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Silvestre Bello III told the media that the arrest of Baylosis does not signify a crackdown on the leaders of the legal left-leaning political movement.

Bello explained that some NDF consultants were only granted temporary liberty under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) because of their roles in the peace talks. The said privileges were revoked as the peace process has been terminated.

NDF Consultant Rafael Batylosis Photo © news.mb.com.ph

He clarified that Baylosis was arrested because of a pending criminal charge. But NDF consultants, Bello added, who are without pending cases in courts would not be arrested.

Baylosis and his companion, Guillermo Roque, were arrested on Wednesday afternoon at the corner of Aurora Boulevard and Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. (Read More: http://beyonddeadlines.com/2018/02/01/kinondena-national-democratic-front-ang-administrasyong-duterte-sa-ginawa-nitong-pagdakip-kay-rafael-baylosis/)

Government critics said the arrests were made without court warrants.

The arrest of Baylosis came days after President Rodrigo Duterte warned that he will “go after the legal fronts” of the Left.

Itong NPA, totodasin ko talaga sila. Tatapusin ko. The talks are over. No more talks. And I will go after the legal fronts,” the President said in a press conference in Davao.

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