The Tiamzons' arrest is a blow to the peace talks

Ang Bayan
7 April 2014

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The arrest of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria, both leading cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines and peace talks consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is a gross violation of the peace process.

They were arrested with five others in Aloguinsan, Cebu on March 22. To justify their prolonged detention, the arresting police and military operatives planted firearms and arrested them on a trumped-up case of multiple murder.

The Aquino regime has once more demonstrated in this incident its wanton disregard for the peace talks. Surveilling, filing trumped-up criminal charges and arresting the negotiators, consultants and staff of either party are strictly prohibited by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Aquino and his officials portray the arrest of Comrades Benito and Wilma as a step that moves the country closer to peace, exposing anew their narrow-minded view on peace. For Aquino, peace will be achieved if he could effect either the surrender or arrest of the people's revolutionary forces struggling for national liberation and democracy. For the revolutionaries, this would be tantamount to meekly subjecting themselves to the prevailing exploitative and oppressive social order dominated by the imperialists and local ruling classes.

The NDFP continuously lays the foundations of genuine, just and lasting peace by empowering the Filipino people in stages and attaining their national and democratic aspirations, whether or not it engages in negotiations.

In the NDFP's view, once popular unrest is dispelled because the people are no longer hungry and receive just wages, enjoy decent housing, education, health care and other social services, the firm foundation for peace shall have been laid down. On the other hand, poverty, hunger and injustice are fertile grounds for social unrest and people's uprisings.

In a message from his prison cell, Comrade Benito explained the real meaning of peace. He said that contrary to being a mere sentiment, as the regime and its drumbeaters claim, peace is a socio-political construct that will resolve the basic ills of society. It is the real foundation and substance of any peace negotiation and agreement.

This is the basis for The Hague Joint Declaration, which provides the proper order for agreements on the substantive agenda of human rights, social and economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms before proceeding to the resolution of the armed conflict and the disposition of the armed forces involved in the current civil war.

Since it took power in 2010, the Aquino regime has denigrated The Hague Joint Declaration as a "document of perpetual division"  in its desire to disregard needed social changes and go straight to the last item in the agenda and achieve a contrived peace.

As revolutionaries deeply rooted in the exploited and oppresses masses, Comrades Benito and Wilma both have a sharp grasp of what any agreement aimed at resolving the roots of the raging civil war in the Philippines should contain. They have therefore been providing highly significant inputs to the peace process.

Whether seated at the negotiation table or not, they are part of the great and historic process of building peace. By waging revolution, they are not only peace advocates but ardent creators of people's democracy, social justice, national liberation and lasting peace.

It is not the genuine peace workers like Comrades Benito and Wilma, Alan Jazmines and other detained NDFP consultants who should be imprisoned and deprived of the right to be with the masses whom they cherish and serve.

The Aquino regime, however, is more interested in utilizing precious time and resources to capture revolutionary leaders instead of seriously sitting at the negotiating table to decisively discuss and resolve the roots of the civil war. In its narrow-minded and shallow view, it could put a stop to the people's revolutionary struggle in this manner and dispense with the necessity of negotiating in order to entrap and pacify it.

The Aquino regime has already meted a series of blows on the peace negotiations because of its non-compliance with, and violations of, existing agreements with the NDFP, especially its long-term incarceration of JASIG-protected consultants.

Talking with a regime that not only has a narrow-minded and shallow concept of peace but reneges on signed agreements is indeed fraught with difficulties and danger. The only way for the Aquino regime to escape going down in history as the killer of the peace talks is for it to respect its agreements with the NDFP, notably The Hague Joint Declaration and JASIG and release the detained NDFP consultants. It must also comply with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and release all political prisoners detained on trumped-up criminal charges.


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