Surface missing NDFP consultants, resume peace talks! – Karapatan

This week, the National Democratic Front Far Southern Mindanao sounded the alarm on the disappearance of peace consultant Lora Manipis and husband Jeruel Domingo, on the suspicion that they were abducted by military agents; their whereabouts have yet to be ascertained as of this writing. The couple had not made contact since February 24, 2018 and was last seen in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato. In its statement, the NDFP raised the possibility that the two were killed, or are suffering from intense torture.


"The reported enforced disappearance of NDFP consultant Manipis and Domingo reflect how the government treats persons at the opposite end of the negotiating table – foremost as targets of its counterinsurgency campaign and less as potential partners in finding resolutions to the root causes of armed conflict. From the proscription petition which included names of the NDFP peace panel, to the arrest of Rafael Baylosis in January 2018, to this recent case of enforced disappearance, these betray the real fascist intent of the Duterte regime,” said Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor, adding that the aforementioned cases are violations under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).


Karapatan noted that this is not the first instance that NDFP peace consultants were forcibly disappeared. During the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, eight NDFP consultants and JASIG-protected persons also went missing. NDFP consultants Philip Limjoco, Rogelio Calubad, Prudencio Calubid, and Cesar Batralo were all abducted in 2006, while NDFP consultant Leo Velasco had been abducted in 2007. JASIG-protected personnel Leopoldo Ancheta, Ariel Beloy, and Federico Intise were also taken by elements of the military in 2006. All have yet to be surfaced.


In such cases, Clamor emphasized that family members of peace consultants and JASIG-protected persons were also abducted. Rogelio Calubad was taken with his son, Gabriel; Prudencio Calubid was abducted with his wife Celina Palma and niece Gloria Soco; and Federico Intise was forcibly disappeared with his wife Nelly Intise and friend Gloria Canaveral.


Concerned groups and family members are searching for Manipis and Domingo in military camps and police stations. Pressed for comments, the 10th Infantry Division denied any involvement in the abduction of the two.


“While the continuation of the peace talks is a welcome development, attacks against communities and peace consultants should likewise stop. We call for the military to immediately surface Manipis and Domingo. The military’s denial no longer comes as a surprise, the same way they did in the case of Jonas Burgos. Evidence of Burgos in military custody was eventually brought to light several months after his disappearance,” added Clamor.


Karapatan’s deputy secretary general cautioned against such insidious attacks that will spoil any positive outcome of the peace talks, just as it did last year. He underscored that “there is a need to remain vigilant, to amplify calls for justice for all the victims, and to emphasize the inherent oppressive and repressive character present in the many policies pushed for by the Duterte government.”


“The Duterte regime seems to be under the impression that peace is when there is a lull, a quiet brought about by State terror in many communities affected by the government’s fascist policies. It is through an overhaul of this framework and in understanding that socioeconomic problems plaguing the country should be solved at its root cause can the government work towards attaining just and lasting peace. It should veer away from the superficial and band-aid solutions that it has long implemented,” Clamor concluded.