QUESTIONS ON THE JASIG
Philippine Peace Center
26 March 2014
Q1: What is the JASIG?
A1: JASIG stands for “Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees”.
It is an agreement between the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines (GPH, formerly GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines, signed by their respective negotiating panels in February 24,
JASIG came into effect and became binding on the two Parties upon its
approval by their principals on April 10, 1995 (NDFP Chairperson Mariano
Orosa) and April 25, 1995 (GRP President Fidel Ramos).
Two additional agreements were entered into by the two Parties providing
implementing rules related to the JASIG: The “Additional Implementing
Rules Pertaining to the Documents of Identification” (June 26, 1996) and
“Additional Implementing Rules of the JASIG Pertaining to the Security of
Personnel and the Conduct of Consultations in Furtherance of the Peace
Negotiations” (March 16, 1998).
Q2: Why is the JASIG essential to the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations? What
purpose does it serve?
A2: JASIG provides safety and immunity guarantees that protect the rights
of negotiators, consultants, staffers, security and other personnel who
participate in the GRP‑NDFP peace negotiations, in order to facilitate the
peace negotiations, create a favorable atmosphere conducive to free
discussion and free movement during the negotiations, and avert any
incident that may jeopardize the peace negotiations.
Without the JASIG, negotiations would not be possible. Without the JASIG,
persons involved in the negotiations would always feel or actually be
under a cloud of threat and would be unable to perform their functions
freely. The negotiations would always be at risk of being disrupted and
Q3: Who are covered or protected by JASIG? What is the Document of
Identification (DI) or safe conduct pass?
A3: Persons designated by either Party as being involved in the peace
negotiations and acknowledged by the other Party are “duly accredited
persons” enjoying the protection of JASIG. Such persons shall be issued
documents of identification (DIs) or safe conduct passes, which contain
- official seal of the issuing party,
- the bearer's photograph,
- name, sex, date and place of birth, height, color of hair and eyes,
distinguishing physical features,
- the assigned number,
- designation or duty in the peace negotiations (panel member, consultant,
RWC member, staffer, courier, security or other personnel) , and
- the period of validity.
Each party shall provide the other with the name, designation and assigned
number on each document of identification issued in accordance with this
Q4: What safety and immunity guarantees does a duly accredited person
A4: All duly accredited persons are guaranteed 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.
The immunity guarantees shall cover all acts and utterances made in the
course of and pursuant to the purposes of the peace negotiations.
Upon presentation by the duly accredited person to any entity, authority
or agent of the party concerned, the document of identification or safe
conduct pass shall be honored and respected and the duly accredited person
shall be accorded due recognition and courtesy and allowed free and
All duly accredited persons who are already publicly known to be involved
in the GRP‑NDFP peace negotiations shall be free from surveillance and
shall be allowed freely to consult with the leaders and entities of the
party concerned in the Philippines and abroad.
Q5: Is the JASIG still in effect?
A5: Yes. The JASIG is binding and effective on both parties until it is
terminated by either party through an official notice of termination to
the other Party, and shall be considered terminated 30 days after receipt
of the other party. In the 19 years since the JASIG took effect, it has
been terminated only once, in July 1999, 30 days after the GRP issued a
notice of termination of the peace negotiations in June. The JASIG is
co-terminus with the peace negotiations.
The GPH under Estrada announced its unilateral suspension of the JASIG in
1999, and under Arroyo in 2005, but there is nothing in the JASIG which
provides for its unilateral suspension, and so such suspensions were
invalid and were violations of JASIG.
Q6: What will happen to the immunity guarantees once the JASIG is
A6: The JASIG categorically provides that the immunities shall remain in
effect even after it has been terminated.
Q7: Must a duly accredited person be physically present or visibly
participating in the negotiations to remain JASIG protected?
A7: No. There is no provision in the JASIG nor in its Additional
Implementing Rules that requires one to be physically present or visibly
participating in the negotiations to be duly accredited or to be JASIG-protected.
In the case of the NDFP, many of its consultants, staffers, couriers are
in the revolutionary underground and perform tasks for the peace
negotiations in such capacity. Many of the consultations being conducted
by the NDFP are done in the guerrilla areas beyond observation by the GPH.
Thus an NDFP consultant who is released from detention and returns to the
underground to resume one’s functions including those in relation to the
peace negotiations remains duly accredited or JASIG-protected.
The GRP/GPH under administrations previous to the BS Aquino administration
had acknowledged and recognized those designated by the NDFP as duly
accredited or JASIG-protected persons even if they were in the
underground, not physically present in the talks nor visibly participating
in the negotiations. It is only under the BS Aquino administration that
the GPH has unilaterally demanded that persons designated by the NDFP as
duly accredited should not go underground, should “remain visibly
aboveground” or “visibly participating in the peace negotiations”.
Q8: Can a person facing charges in court or already detained in jail be
designated as a duly accredited or JASIG-protected person?
A8: Yes. There is nothing in the JASIG that disqualifies a detained person
or one who is facing charges in court from being designated by either
Party as a duly-accredited or JASIG-protected person. In fact, the JASIG
provides that “In all (court) cases involving duly accredited persons, the
prosecutors shall move for the suspension, during the peace negotiations,
of criminal proceedings or processes including arrest and search, for
acts allegedly committed prior to the effectivity of this Joint
Q9: Aside from the JASIG, is there any other issuance by the GPH that
binds it to the implementation of JASIG?
A9: Executive Order 276 issued by then President Ramos on September 25,
1995, “Formalizing the Inter-Agency Security and Immunity Guarantees for
the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks” recognizes the “the need for a permanent
Inter-Agency Committee to provide a mechanism for coordination and joint
decision making and problem-solving and monitoring of the JASIG
implementation”. This permanent committee was explicitly tasked to
“oversee the implementation of the JASIG and to resolve problems and
issues arising from the same.”
In practice, the meetings of the GRP’s SIG Committee and the corresponding
team formed by the NDFP for the purpose provided an effective mechanism
for resolving issues and problems that arose especially with the arrest of
NDFP-designated consultants and other duly accredited persons.
Executive Order 276 remains valid and binding on the GPH until today since
there has been no issuance to repeal or amend it. Unfortunately, the GPH
Negotiating Panel unilaterally declared in the GPH-NDFP informal talks in
June 2012 that it would no longer avail of this mechanism in resolving
Q10: Why has the JASIG become the center of controversy in the GPH-NDFP
Negotiations, to the point that the non-resolution of the controversy has
caused a 3-year impasse in talks?
A10: The controversy revolves around the issue of compliance or
non-compliance (i.e., violation) with JASIG in relation to persons
detained by the GPH who the NDFP claims are JASIG-protected and must be
released. Both Parties had agreed, in their February 2011 Joint Statement,
that the GPH shall take measures to release from detention “most if not
all” of the detained persons claimed by the NDFP to be CJASIG-protected
persons “subject to verification, or for humanitarian or other practical
The GPH claimed in August 2011 that the process for verifying whether or
not the detained persons are duly-accredited or not (by checking the real
identities from DIs with photographs deposited in a bank) had failed due
to the NDFP’s violation of the JASIG procedure, and concluded that the
JASIG has been rendered inoperative. The NDFP for its part explained that
it had not violated the JASIG procedure, since the use of electronic data
in place of hard copies were legally admissible, and that the failure to
open the files was a result of the confiscation by the Dutch police of the
decrypting files. The NDFP further argued that this was not the sole
method of verification, especially for those publicly known participants
and those who used their true name in the documents.
Eventually the GPH Panel Chair Padilla was compelled to clarify that the
failed procedure only applied to those using assued names in the their DIs
but does not apply to those who are already publicly known and
acknowledged to be participating in the negotiations and are thus duly
The NDFP proposed that the list of NDFP-designated accredited persons
including those using assumed names be reconstituted, in accordance with
JASIG provisions, but the GPH has so far refused to do so.
Q11: Is there a possibility of resolving the issues on JASIG and thus
breaking the impasse in the talks? Does the JASIG provide for means by
which controversies and disagreements can and should be resolved?
A11: Yes. The impasse can be broken if both Parties agree to hold
consultations and/or informal talks to discuss the alleged violations and
the disagreements mentioned above, including reconstituting the list of
duly-accredited or JASIG-protected persons. Section III, General
Provisions, Articles 2 and 3 explicitly stipulate that violations,
disagreements and ambiguities in interpretations and applications of the
provisions “shall promptly be the subject of consultations between the two
panels of the negotiating parties in order to remove impediments to the
peace negotiations... in accordance with the letter and spirit of the
HAGUE JOINT DECLARATION and the pertinent provisions of the BREUKELEN
Informal talks can also be held to discuss how the “special track”
proposed by the NDFP in January 2011 for alliance and truce based on a
common general declaration for unity, peace and development can be
Breaking the impasse and resuming the formal peace talks will bring the
two Parties back to the negotiations on social and economic reforms, which
have all the more urgency and importance with the continuing global and
domestic economic crises and the disasters that continue to wreak
destruction and hardships on our people.
Q12: What are the prospects for resuming informal talks in the near
A12: Both GPH and NDFP have repeatedly announced that they are still open
to continuing the peace negotiations. Neither one has issued a notice of
termination to the other Party, although the GPH had announced in Aril-May
2013 that they will only return to the regular track under a new
The NDFP has further proposed that informal talks be held this May 2014.
The Third Party Facilitator has announced that they are always ready and
willing to continue with their facilitating role, and in particular to
support formal or informal talks whenever the two Parties agree to hold
one. The only lacking ingredient now is the GPH’s concurrence with the
Reference: Rey Claro C. Casambre, Executive Director
09238109428; 8993439; 8993416 (fax)