MANILA, Philippines – The release of all political prisoners can only happen after talks with the communist-led National Democratic Front succeed, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday, July 5.
But Duterte said he’s willing to grant safe conduct passes to detained Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) chairman Benito Tiamzon and wife Wilma, as well as exiled CPP founder Jose Maria Sison and NDF negotiator Luis Jalandoni.
In a speech during the Philippine Air Force’s anniversary in Clark, Pampanga, Duterte said the informal talks between government’s peace negotiators and the NDF are “doing well,” making him hope that both sides will have a “firm agreement by the end of the year if Sison would come home.”
Duterte added: “I am ready to give him (Sison) a safe conduct pass. And ‘yung Tiamzon spouses pati si Jalandoni.”
But he stressed that “I am not ready to release everybody.” The release of all political prisoners can only happen after a peace agreement is signed, the President said.
The granting of amnesty can follow on condition the guerrillas lay down their arms, he added.
The Philippine military arrested the Tiamzons – their biggest catch in recent history – on March 22, 2014 in Cebu. The arrests were a big blow to the communist insurgency. (READ: Benito Tiamzon: Writer, organizer, party man)
Detained at Camp Crame, they face murder charges.
The President’s statements set the stage for the second informal talks in Oslo to be held on the 3rd week of July.
The NDF is demanding the release of political prisoners, but Duterte’s statement on Tuesday indicates this would be done in batches.
Both parties will attempt to agree on a nationwide ceasefire upon the declaration of the resumption of talks, insiders said. Government peace negotiators in talks with the NDF are Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and former congressman Hernani Braganza. – Rappler.com
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