4 NDFP consultants arrested, remain in detention
Four leaders of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have been arrested and detained since February this year even after President Duterte promised to release 14 political prisoners to further boost the peace talks, according to a leftist rights watchdog.
The human rights group Karapatan said two consultants of the NDFP, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), were arrested last week while two others were nabbed in February.
“These are clear violations of agreements between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the NDFP on safety and immunity guarantees and on human rights and international humanitarian law,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Karapatan said NDFP consultants Rommel Salinas and Bishop Carlo Morales of the Iglesia Filipino Independiente were accosted in an Army checkpoint in Gango, Ozamiz City, on May 11.
They were charged the next day with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, a nonbailable offense.
Palabay said the guns and explosives were planted in Salinas and Morales’ belongings.
Karapatan also reported that Promencio Cortez was arrested on Feb. 9 in Baguio City while Ferdinand Castillo, a campaign officer of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, was arrested on Feb. 12 in Caloocan City.
The two NDFP consultants are still detained, according to Karapatan.
Karapatan said NDFP ranking members Benito and Wilma Tiamzon also reported being tailed by suspected military agents last week.
Benito Tiamzon, alleged CPP chair, is a member of the NDFP negotiating panel while his wife Wilma is a consultant.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines, however, denied on Monday that its members “tailed” the Tiamzons.
Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP public affairs chief, said the military had not spied on the Tiamzons after they met President Duterte in Malacañang on May 9.
“For the record, we deny any efforts being alluded to the military that we are trailing or spying on the Tiamzon couple,” Arevalo said. —DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN AND PHILIP C. TUBEZA
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