Tiamzons confident of peace talks, Duterte thrust toward reforms
Hours after being freed from detention, National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon on Friday expressed optimism on the talks in Oslo, Norway, next week as they thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for his “determination” to stop decades of armed struggle in the country.
“Labis kaming nagagalak sa pagpapalaya sa amin at sa iba pang consultants ng NDFP. We believe opportunities are open to achieve comprehensive peace. Hindi man madali ang daan, naniniwala kaming maaliwalas ang hinaharap ng peace talks,” Benito said in a press briefing.
“’Yung confidence namin sa pagsulong ng peace talks ay nakabatay sa paniniwala na ngayon lang nagkaroon ng Presidente na may pagnanais at mukhang sapat na determinasyon na magpatupad ng malalimang reporma,” he added.
Wilma thanked Duterte for releasing them and other consultants and for reopening the peace negotiations.
“Ang usapang pangkapayapaan ay inaasahan naming tutuntong na sa tamang landas … Sa puntong ito ay pagtitibayin na ang mga naunang kasunduan na nakabatay sa paglutas ng mga ugat ng armadong labanan,” she said.
The Tiamzon couple, who were arrested in 2014 on suspicion they were top communist leaders, said the five-day peace talks that will start on Aug. 20 would cover discussions on ceasefire, reaffirmation of existing agreements, reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, and schedule of succeeding talks.
Benito reaffirmed the NDFP’s commitment to negotiations with the government and vowed to maximize all means to end the armed conflict that has cost thousands of lives, and achieve long-lasting peace.
“Kaya kami gusto naming gamitin din ang peace talks para malaman kung hanggang saan talaga pwedeng abutin ang totohanang reporma. Ang gusto namin ay i-explore ang lahat ng pamamaraan … Kung malulutas sa pag-uusap ang mga batayang problema, malulutas na ang armed struggle,” he said.
The couple were arrested in Cebu in March 2014 and charged with crimes against humanity, including murder, multiple murder, and frustrated murder. Benito is allegedly the chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, while Wilma is tagged as secretary general.
But Wilma maintained that the charges filed against them were based on falsified testimonies and fake evidence.
“‘Yung mga kaso na isinampa sa amin ay pawang gawa-gawa … Isang malaking inhustisya kahit na kami ay mahuli ay hindi kami dumanas ng torture, pero sinampahan kami ng kahit anong klaseng kriminal. Pinalabas kaming mamamatay tao, kidnaper at kung anu-ano pa,” she said./rga
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