Rights groups call to surface missing peace consultant, resume peace talks

FILE PHOTO: (L-R) Silvestre H. Bello, Hernani Braganza, Angelia Trinidad, Rene Sarmiento, Antonio Arellano and Edgardo Pamintuan of the Philippine government and Luis Jalandoni, Benito Tiamzon, Asterio Palima, Coni Ledesma, Julie de Lima, Fidel Agcaoili and Jose Maria Sison of the the National Democratic Front (NDFP) during the peace talks with the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Asker, Norway October 9, 2016. Rights groups called to surface an NDFP peace consultant who was arrested and had gone missing since. NTB Scanpix/Torstein Boe/via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY. NO COMMERCIAL SALES.
FILE PHOTO: (L-R) Silvestre H. Bello, Hernani Braganza, Angelia Trinidad, Rene Sarmiento, Antonio Arellano and Edgardo Pamintuan of the Philippine government and Luis Jalandoni, Benito Tiamzon, Asterio Palima, Coni Ledesma, Julie de Lima, Fidel Agcaoili and Jose Maria Sison of the the National Democratic Front (NDFP) during the peace talks with the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Asker, Norway October 9, 2016. Rights groups called to surface an NDFP peace consultant who was arrested and had gone missing since. NTB Scanpix/Torstein Boe/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NORWAY OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN NORWAY. NO COMMERCIAL SALES.

Rights groups Desaparecidos (Families of the Disappeared for Justice) and Karapatan have called to surface one of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) peace consultants who was recently arrested and has been missing since.

NDFP consultant Edwin Alcid, who supported calls to resume peace talks, was reportedly abducted by military personnel on March 8 in Catubig, Northern Samar, along with two other farmers, according to Karapatan.

The 74-year-old peace consultant, who also suffers from acute diabetes, was reportedly nabbed by elements of the 803rd Infantry Brigade under the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.

“As families of the disappeared who have been in the same situation for many years, if not decades, we also appeal to whoever has knowledge about the disappearance of Alcid to help his family find him,” said Isabel Batralo, Desaparecidos vice-chairperson, in a statement.

According to Karapatan, they have also received reports that another NDFP peace consultant Ezequiel Daguman, and his companion have been missing since March 7.

“Yesterday, March 30, 2022, news reports quoted police and military officials in Region 11 on their statements regarding Daguman being killed in an alleged encounter together with two individuals. Daguman’s family has been able to identify his body,” Karapatan added.

The group denounced Daguman’s killing, comparing it to other cases of peace consultants who were captured alive then "ended up killed while in the custody of the military."

“We are in agony and rage that just a few months before the country elects a new president in May 2022, the mad dogs of the Duterte regime continue to attack and steal from us loving sons and daughters, parents to their children, Filipinos who do service to their country. We can only hold accountable the armed forces' commander-in-chief Duterte and his forces in the abductions and other rights violations, when the people are already wanting for his term to end,” Batralo said.

Batralo said that despite laws criminalizing enforced disappearance like the Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law, the Anti-Torture Law, and the writ of amparo, more people still fall victims to enforced disappearances.

The Desaparecidos vice-chairperson, who is also sister to missing NDF consultant Cesar Batralo, highlighted the Duterte administration’s violations of mutually signed agreements like the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

Under JASIG, peace consultants and peace panel members should be immune from arrests, detention, and harassment.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.

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