NDFP mourns the passing away of Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, its chief legal counsel and champion of the exploited and oppressed


National Council
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
17 September 2012

The entire National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) deeply mourns the passing away of Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, its Chief Legal Counsel and champion of the exploited and oppressed. The leadership of the NDFP, all its allied organizations, and the NDFP Negotiating Panel, its consultants and staff, express our deepest gratitude for the invaluable service he rendered through so many years, in the peace negotiations and other fields of people's struggles.

We express our sincerest condolences to his wife, Pia, his children, Alex, Eduardo and Roma Pia, and to other members of his family, his many friends and colleagues in the Philippines and abroad..

Romy, as he was called by his friends and colleagues, was the NDFP Chief Legal Counsel par excellence. In the peace negotiations, he played a key role in the formulation and negotiation of The Hague Joint Declaration, The Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and other bilateral agreements. He made full use of his legal expertise and persuasive powers to bring about consensus even on the most difficult points. Every document in the GRP/GPH-NDFP peace negotiations was checked and reviewed by him.

He was already a legal counsel to the NDFP peace negotiators in 1986-1987. In 1989, he accompanied several peace advocates to the Netherlands. In 1990, he came with Congressman Jose V. Yap for extensive discussions on peace negotiations.

From 1992 until 2008, despite his heavy schedule of defending political prisoners, peasants, workers and others subjected to political repression, he came to assist in peace negotiations. All 12 bilateral agreements from 1992 to 2004 were forged with the invaluable help of his legal expertise and firm stand for the revolutionary movement.

In January 2000, Romy formulated the Updated NDFP Position on the Issue of Prisoners of War and the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations, in which the NDFP “respects and accords its POWs their right to fair trial before a duly constituted people's tribunal or court marital and all the guarantees of due process.”

On 15 March 2004 he wrote the important paper, “The Meaning, Scope and Implications of the Oslo Joint Statement on the “Terrorist” Listing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army (NPA) and the Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)”. This was adopted in toto by the NDFP Negotiating Panel as its position and presented to the GRP Negotiating Panel at the formal talks in Oslo on 30 March 2004.

Even after then President Gloria Arroyo suspended formal talks in July 2005, Romy came for informal talks in Oslo in August 2005. He also joined informal talks in May 2008. Thereafter, he remained very active in efforts to move the GRP/GPH peace negotiations forward. As late as April 2012, even when he was already quite ill, he still said he “would be on board” in working for the releases of NDFP Consultants, Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara and other consultants and JASIG-protected personnel.

In addition to all the work he did for the NDFP Negotiating Panel and for Prof. Jose Maria Sison, the NDFP Chief Political Consultant, Romy was the champion of so many exploited and oppressed people. He took on the cases of political prisoners, unjustly charged, detained or convicted of common crimes in violation of the Hernandez political offense doctrine.

He championed the cause of the 10,000 peasants in Hacienda Looc. He integrated with them, stood up with them before the threats of those who wanted to drive them away from their land. So loved was he by the people of Hacienda Looc, they lovingly referred to him as “Hulog ng Langit”.

He joined the farmers and workers of Hacienda Luisita in their struggle for their land. His firm stand brought upon him the ire of the military, which perpetrated the massacre of November 2004. The threats of the military did not stop him from militantly fighting for the workers' and farmers' rights, even after the assassination of Bishop Alberto Ramento, Councilor Abel Ladera, Fr. Tadena and several labor leaders.

Internationally, Romy's legal expertise was also widely recognized. He was elected by the United Nations General Assembly as a UN Judge ad litem in the UN International Tribunal on Former Yugoslavia. Among the 24 international judges elected, he had the third highest number of votes. He also served as one of the lawyers in the international team that defended Prof. Sison in the European Court starting in April 2003 until their victory in September 2009. The international team consisted of Romy and very able lawyers from Belgium, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Threats to his life and several assassination attempts did not stop him from fighting for the rights of the exploited and oppressed. He took practical and effective steps as precautionary measures but he was resolute in his decision to persevere in his work for the people.

While we are deeply saddened by Romy's passing away, we know his spirit and inspiration will live on in the hearts of the people he served.

Mabuhay si Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, abogado ng bayan, bayani ng sambayanan!