Gov’t to work on release of APOs covered under the JASIG on ‘best effort basis’

Manila, Jan. 21 – Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles today said that the government will work on the release of alleged political offenders (APOs) of the National Democratic Front (NDF) who have been verified to be covered by the JASIG on “best effort basis.”

The government promised to facilitate the participation of three NDF consultants under the JASIG, who are not even detained, in the formal peace talks set on February 15 to21 in Oslo, Norway.

Regarding the NDF’s demand to release Tirso Alcantara, alias “Ka Bart,” who the communist group claims an NDF consultant, Deles reiterated the government’s position that the New People’s Army (NPA) commander is not on the list of rebel personalities who are immune from arrest under the JASIG.

“As what we have said in the beginning, it’s still our position- he’s not in the list that they (NDF) gave us. He’s not carrying documents,” she told media reporters during a short interview this morning at the Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

The peace adviser said that the government panel, headed by Atty. Alexander Padilla, has committed to examine the names in the list provided by the NDF.

“It would be understood that some will be listed in their alias because of security concerns that is why both parties agreed then to put the pictures of those who are using their aliases in the vault in a bank in Utrecht, which is under the care of a bishop in the Netherlands,” she added.

Deles also said that if issues on the APOs continue to be contentious, these will be discussed on the sidetable mechanisms. “The panel wants this issue discussed. There’s a side mechanism for that so they can do their main work that is to look at the substantive agenda which include socio-economic reforms, political-constitutional reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces,” she stated.

“The President’s (Benigno Aquino III) directive is to end armed conflict and address the roots of armed conflict.  JASIG is not a rule of armed conflict so it is important to make the procedure work,” Deles added, stressing the need to have mechanisms to address issues and contentions along these lines. “But let’s get on with the talks. This is what the citizens have been expecting,” she said. #

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