Aquino Government accountable for death of NDFP peace consultant Eduardo Serrano

"No less than President BS Aquino is accountable for the death of detained peace consultant Eduardo Serrano; and so are the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) and the 204th Infantry Brigade (IB) of the Philippine Army,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general said in a picket protest in front of the OPAPP.
 
 
"It is BS Aquino and the OPAPP’s disinterest in pursuing peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and their intransigence on keeping Serrano in prison that led to the deterioration of his health and eventual death after undergoing heart surgery,” Palabay claimed.
 
On the other hand, it was the 204th IB in 2004 during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime that cooked up criminal charges against Serrano, insisting that the NDFP peace consultant was in fact Rogelio Villanueva, supposedly a New People's Army leader who led an ambush against the state troopers. For more than 11 years, political prisoner Serrano and his legal counsels told the same thing in different courts: that Serrano was not Villanueva. Finally, in 2015, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 98 said as much, and ruled in Serrano's favor. "If only the OPAPP honored the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), did not block the release of NDFP consultants, and pursued peace negotiations, Serrano would still be alive and enjoying his much deserved freedom," lamented Palabay.
 
"As if it was not enough to sabotage the peace talks with the NDFP, the OPAPP has the gall to make monkey business out of the peace process," Palabay argued. She cited as proof of corruption the P1.14B unliquidated OPAPP funds from the Disbursement Acceleration Program, or presidential pork; and the P45M worth of car rentals and fake signatures of attendees in OPAPP activities. It looked like OPAPP Secretary Teresita 'Ging' Deles deliberately stalled the peace talks to make money,” said Palabay.
 
"Was the P1.14B fund the largesse of paramilitaries in Mindanao? Or was it the money used in the counter-insurgency programs disguised as peace initiatives, one of which facilitated the Lumad killings and the displacement of Lumad communities?" Palabay asked.
 
Currently there are 18 detained NDFP peace consultants who have been slapped with various trumped-up criminal charges," Palabay revealed Serrano used to be the political prisoner held the longest among the peace consultants, until he was rushed to the hospital last December for his serious heart ailment. He died three weeks later. Leopoldo Caloza now holds the dubious title among the NDFP consultants. Imprisoned since 2006, he was convicted of murder in 2015, together with Emeterio Antalan.
 
"OPAPP does not stand for peace. In fact, it is now exposed as a conduit for funding and implementation of the bloody counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan," Palabay said.
 
Karapatan demands justice for Eduardo Serrano, the release of all political prisoners, and the resumption of the peace talks with the NDFP.