By JEOFFREY MHAR LARUA
BAGUIO CITY – The local chapter of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) in Baguio-Benguet slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for delaying the release of political prisoners in exchange for a bilateral ceaseﬁre agreement with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), saying it effectively grounds the peace process.
On the event of the 67th International Human Rights Day commemoration in Baguio, the campus press alliance stressed that the non-release of political prisoners shows the government’s insincerity in pursuing peace.
“Duterte’s administration must release political prisoners without any preconditions to show his utmost commitment to the peace process,” said Arthur John Astaquinta, CEGP Baguio-Benguet chairperson.
The campus press alliance earlier lambasted the president for rejecting the NDFP’s proposal to free at least 130 political prisoners in line with the ongoing peace negotiations.
“The government’s non-commital attitude towards the release of political prisoners only shows that its commitment to the peace process is mere lip service. Peace will remain elusive if Duterte’s government keep on retracting its promises,” he said.
Astaquinta emphasized that releasing political detainees is not a concession on part of the government but a mere matter of abiding by previous agreements it signed with the NDFP, such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
“Previous administrations have willfully violated the JASIG and CARHRIHL in the name of their counterinsurgency operations. It is only imperative that the Duterte administration abide by these agreements to accelerate the peace talks and bring about the change he promised to the Filipino people,” he explained.
“With these developments, it is now upon the Filipino people to relentlessly forward the call to release all political prisoners and struggle for just and lasting peace,” he ended. # nordis.net