Palace mulls release of political prisoners to revive talks with communist rebels
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Malacañang is looking into the possible release of political prisoners, particularly those serving as “consultants” to communist rebels involved in negotiations with the government, in the hope of reviving the scuttled peace process, a government spokesperson said Thursday.
In a statement e-mailed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Polly Michelle Cunanan, spokesperson of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, said the release of the “consultants” of the National Democratic Front and other political prisoners was being considered “in line with legal processes.”
Cunanan said OPAPP has already started an “internal review process” for this purpose.
The NDF has repeatedly demanded the release of the so-called political prisoners – numbering 356 including, 14 of its consultants — as a condition the government should satisfy before it returns to the negotiating table.
Three of the so-called NDF consultants, Alan Jazmines, Eduardo Serrano and Eduardo Sarmiento, are being held on what the government deems regular criminal charges such as murder and arson, the rebel group said.
The NDF has also demanded investigations into the killing of its other consultants such as Sotero Llamas, Leo Velasco, Prudencio Calubid and Rogelio Calubad and the rectification of a Washington advisory classifying the Philippine communist organization as “terrorist.”
Formal peace talks between the communist rebels and the government have remained suspended since 2004 because of these demands.
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