MANILA - A lawyer of communist rebels on Friday urged Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque to not involve himself in killing peace negotiations after he claimed that negotiators are no longer covered by safety guarantees.
Rachel Pastores, managing counsel of the Public Interest Law Center and lawyer for arrested National Democratic Front consultant Rafael Baylosis, said Roque must be "innocent or ignorant" of the agreements made during the peace negotiations.
"Mr. Harry Roque should not make himself an accomplice in the killing of the peace negotiations. Kasi po itong patuloy na pag-aresto sa mga NDF consultants, hindi po ito nakakatulong sa clamor ng publiko na ituloy ang peace negotiations," she told reporters.
Roque, a human rights lawyer before joining the government, on Thursday said peace consultants of the NDFP no longer enjoy immunity provided by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) because peace talks with the government have been scrapped.
"Katungkulan ng president na ipatupad and batas at dahil wala nang usaping kapayapaan, dahil sila rin naman ang may kasalanan dyan, habang nakikipagusap ng kapayapaan eh patay sila nang patay ng kasundaluhan, they are not exempt from full compliance with our penal laws," he told reporters.
With the JASIG in place, NDFP consultants involved in the peace negotiations were assured of free and unhindered passage in all areas in the Philippines, and in traveling to and from the Philippines in connection with the performance of their duties in the negotiations; and immunity from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions due to any involvement or participation in the peace negotiations.
Pastores said contrary to Roque's claim, Baylosis is covered by the JASIG.
“All immunities acquired by virtue of the JASIG shall remain in full force and effect even after the termination of the agreement," she said, reading a portion of the agreement.
"Ano po yung sinasabi nila na porket wala nang peace negotiation ay hindi na effective itong mga immunity guarantees under JASIG? Yan po ay isang kasunduan," she added.
Baylosis and alleged New People's Army member Roque Guillermo were apprehended by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-National Capital Region after they received reports of suspicious men with firearms along the border of Manila and Quezon City.
Pastores said the narrative of the police about Baylosis and Roque's arrest is "incredible, unbelievable at merong (and with) hallmarks of perjury."
The police had claimed, she said, that there was an information that there were 2 individuals roaming Metro Manila while in possession of guns. They were about to ride a tricycle when a pistol was sighted in Baylosis' hip.
"Siguro naman it’s an insult to everybody kung sinumang maniniwala sa ganiyang kuwento. Raffy Baylosis is publicly known to be involved in the GRP-NDF negotiation. Kilala siyang isang labor leader, isang mass leader. Kilala siya at hindi niya gagawin na parang sanggano na naglalakad na may baril sa Maynila at yun ang kanilang basis for charging him," she said.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story referred to Baylosis' companion as Guillermo Roque.