The arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael Baylosis was pursuant to a lawful arrest order, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. declared on Monday, February 5.
“Now as such, we should allow the legal process to proceed so that our justice system can take its due course. He will have to defend himself in court as required by law, and he will have to prove that he is innocent of the criminal charges lodged against him,” Roque underscored in a press briefing in Malacañang.
The Palace spokesperson added the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) had already lost its “binding effect” since the government decided to terminate the peace talks with the communist group.
With regard to Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel Casilao’s remarks that government negotiators may also be arrested by the New People’s Army (NPA), Roque said that would be a crime and a violation of the international humanitarian law because combatants should not suppose to apprehend innocent civilians.
“(T)he NPA has absolutely no legal basis to arrest members of the government peace panel. It is criminal; it is a war crime. It is the NPA that refused to follow the rule of law,” Roque stressed, adding that the President is committed to ensuring the safety of the government peace negotiators.
The Palace spokesperson even encouraged NPA members to cease resistance and submit and return to the fold of the law.
On the other hand, Roque debunked a news report showing China is almost finished with its “militarization” of seven reefs claimed by the Philippines in a disputed waterway.
He said that those islands were even reclaimed during the time of the previous administration.
“All that we could do is to extract a promise from China not to reclaim any new artificial islands,” Roque said.
Roque is referring to the obligation of good faith between China and the Philippines that the former would not reclaim new artificial islands nor create further reclamations.
“(W)e’ll continue relying not only the principle on good faith; we also continue to rely on the general prohibition on the use of force which is found under international law,” he added.
Roque is confident that China, being a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, will adhere to the prohibition on the use of force.
“Right now, the posture of the President is to maintain close ties so they would not have any reason to use those arms on those islands,” Roque said.
‘Bohol farmers receive CLOAs’
In the same press briefing, Roque gladly announced that 128 Boholano farmers received individual certificates of land ownership (CLOAs) under the Continuing Agrarian Reform Program of the Duterte administration.
“The CLOAs distributed last January covers around 103.5 hectares in various municipalities in Bohol, including the town of Carmen, Catigbian, Getafe, Danao, Pilar, San Miguel, Sierra Bullones, and Guindulman,” Roque said.
Likewise, Roque announced the launching of a new ferry boat transport system that will link Noveleta, Cavite and Intramuros, Manila.
The ferry boat service, which can accommodate up to 100 passengers, is expected to shorten travel time from Manila to Cavite to 35 minutes from the current land travel of two hours.### PCO-Content