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Group issues caution on gov’t order to recapture communist leaders

/ 04:28 PM December 14, 2017

In this file photo, Communist Party of the Philippines leaders (right and left) Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma, raise clenched fists as they walk out of police detention on August 19, 2016, to join rebel negotiators in peace talks in Norway. PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Human rights law groups has cautioned the Manila regional trial court to exercise “great caution” in acting on the government’s motion seeking the rearrest of key leaders of the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) following President Rodrigo Duterte’s cancellation of peace talks.

“Great caution and circumspection in the appreciation and interpretation of the President’s words is more than required now,” Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said in their joint comment submitted before the Manila RTC Branch 32.

PILC is representing Adelberto A. Silva while the NUPL is representing Benito E. Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon.

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Counsels for Silva and the Tiamzons submitted a comment to the government’s motion to cancel the bail granted for the temporary liberty of NDF consultants.

Asst. State Prosecutors Olivia Laroza-Torrevillas and Aristotle Reyes filed the motion with the Manila court last Nov. 24.

READ: Duterte: We will arrest communist rebels, including ‘legal fronts’

“In view of the cancellation of the peace talks, there is no more legal ground for the continuous provisional liberty of the accused. Thus, the immediate recommitment and cancellation of bail of all the accused should logically follow,” read the pleading.

But PILC and NUPL said that the negotiating panel has yet to serve a written notice of termination as required by the agreement between the parties.

“The peace negotiations may only be deemed formally terminated 30 days after a formal written notice is given by one party to the other,” the joint comment stated.

“Based on the President’s public statements, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) precipitously filed motions for recommitment in February 2017 and then in August 2017, a position later proven unwise and incorrect,” the joint comment stated.

They told the court that after issuing Proclamation 360 that terminates the peace negotiations, the President himself said “let’s give time for a cooling off with the Communist Party of the Philippines. Sila Bebot pati si itong isa, si ano… Sabi ko muna, “Pahinga muna kayo because nagkakalabuan tayo. It began with a slight pagkatapos nakaka-in—alam mo na ang tao. Pag nagka-insultuhan tayo.”

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The group further quoted Duterte saying “so, I had to stop the talks with the NPA, but Bebot (Silvestre Bello III, government negotiator) and company can always resuscitate it at some other time.”

The lawyers appealed to the court “for prudence and good judgment in these trying times and further, to decide with the benefit of introspection and historical insight.” /jpv

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TAGS: duterte, Government, NDF, NPA, Peace Talks
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