Atty. Edre Olalia (President of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, bureau member of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and secretary of the Confederation of Lawyers in Asia & Pacific) weighs in on the notice sent by the government panel to terminate the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
Can the NDFP political consultants temporarily released on bail be now rearrested because the GRP has sent today a written notice of termination of the JASIG which the NDFP has already received?
1. The effectivity of the termination of the JASIG takes effect only after 30 days from receipt by the NDFP of the notice of termination. The 30 days grace period has not yet lapsed. Therefore, all the JASIG guarantees remain until such time.
2. Even if the JASIG is deemed terminated upon such lapse of 30 days, still what is co-terminous is only the SAFETY guarantee i.e. “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 peace negotiations.”
What is NOT co-terminous, and therefore, subsist and remain effective, are the IMMUNITY guarantees i.e. “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.”
These IMMUNITY guarantees are perpetual and permanent and remain in force even after the JASIG is terminated & the formal peace negotiations are effectively terminated precisely because the rationale is to protect them and encourage their participation or involvement in the peace process without running the risk of any such punitive action thereafter .
3. Aside from the JASIG guarantees, the released political consultants are still validly out on bail and,
a. there are no valid outstanding & unused or unserved warrants of arrest for them;
b. there are no court orders cancelling or shortening their cash bails as there are no existing legal grounds to do so;
c. they have to be committing a crime, have just committed a crime, or about to commit a crime in the presence of an arresting officer, which is not going to be the case.
(Will they still be arrested by the PNP and AFP notwithstanding the above? Or will the GRP honor binding & solemn bilateral agreements or follow the proper legal & judicial procedure? That is, of course, an entirely different question not covered by this specific opinion.)
Cover image from: https://seldapilipinas.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/edre_olalia_72.jpg