Government asked to junk bounty system vs rebels (Philippine Star)

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines Human rights group Karapatan is urging the departments of national defense and the interior and local government to remove the reward system for the arrest of members of the communist movement.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay cited the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Palabay made the appeal following the recent arrest of alleged NPA leader Maria Concepcion Araneta-Bocala in Iloilo.

“The GPH and the Armed Forces of the Philippines will gladly violate JASIG and arrest NDF peace consultants, earn from the reward money than push the peace talks with the NDF,” Palabay said.

She challenged Interior Secretary Mar Roxas or his successor to withdraw the order on reward system, which she said targets communists and victimizes innocent civilians.

“By arresting peace consultants of the NDF, the government earns at least P55 million. These funds would have been more useful when spent for social services,” she said adding the reward system breeds corruption.

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The government offered a P7.8-million bounty for Bocala’s arrest.

Karapatan said Bocala is a peace consultant of the NDF for the Visayas region and was issued with document of identification No. ND978245 under the assumed name “Remi Estrella” by the government.

But the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process refused to acknowledge this.

Under JASIG, rebels issued with documents of identification should be immune from arrests and detention to allow them to perform their duties as peace consultants.