Friends of the Filipino People in Struggle condemns in the strongest possible terms the conviction of NDF peace consultants Frank Fernandez and his wife Cleofe Lagtapon. The couple were arrested in Laguna on March 24, 2019 together with Gee-Ann Perez, while receiving medical treatment. Despite Fernandez’s ongoing medical condition, their continued incarceration is not only unjust due to the trumped-up charges, but also inhumane. They were acquitted from all other false charges, further highlighting the injustice of their conviction for illegal possession of firearms.
The Philippine police and military have a long history of planting evidence to arrest and unlawfully detain peace consultants and other advocates for peace. During the time of Duterte and now under Marcos, they blatantly ignore International Humanitarian Law and signed peace agreements between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
RELEASE ALL NDFP PEACE CONSULTANTS AND ALL OTHER POLITICAL PRISONERS!
Despite the complete sabotage of the peace talks by Duterte and subsequently Marcos, the JASIG agreement, signed by the Philippine government and the NDF in 1995 remains in full force and effect. It guarantees the immunity and safety of individuals involved in the peace talks. This is a necessary condition to give space for the peace talks to genuinely address the root causes of the armed conflict. The continued incarceration of Fernandez and Lagtapon and other consultants of the NDFP is another outstanding violation of JASIG.
Already in his first year of presidency Marcos Jr, the late dictator’s son, has continued the campaign of state terror against civilians. There is an uninterrupted stream of abductions, disappearances, illegal arrests, torture and killings. Instead of any genuine effort to better the situation of the Filipino people, Marcos has been busying himself with business trips around the world. He has given full freedom to the expansion of 4 new military bases under US control through the expansion of EDCA and intensified the state campaign of bombings all over the Philippine islands. This despite the widespread calls of the Filipino people to address the root causes of the armed conflict and resume the peace talks.
We urge the international community to pressure the Philippine government to immediately release Frank Fernandez, his wife Cleofe Lagtapon and all political prisoners.