MANILA - The government is working on the release of detained National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants who are needed for the resumption of formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway on August 22.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza on Tuesday said the Supreme Court (SC) already granted temporary liberty to NDF panel members Randall Echanis and Vicente Ladlad, as well as former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo.
The SC, however, does not have authority to free other key NDF members whose cases are not with the high court, Dureza said.
Dureza said they were advised to thresh out the matter with concerned Regional Trial Courts.
The NDF earlier warned there will be no resumption of formal peace talks between government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) if 22 detained NDF consultants will not be released.
Among those who are yet to be freed are:
- Tirso Alcantara, Alex Birondo, Winona Birondo;
- Maria Concepcion Bocala, Reynante Gamara;
- Alan Jazmines, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Adelberto Silva; and,
- Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.
Another issue threatening to derail the peace talks is the alleged use of landmines by the New People's Army, the armed wing of CPP.
Dureza reiterated that President Duterte's would withdraw support for the peace talks if another landmine attack against soldiers is linked to the communist movement.
"The President was very clear and unequivocal. He said, may I say it clearly, 'If there is another landmine, I will call off the talks,'" Dureza said.
Duterte issued the ultimatum after four Army troopers were killed in an ambush by the New People’s Army on Friday. Explosives used in the attack disfigured the soldiers, according to government television.
Duterte threatens to shelve talks with Reds over landmine attacks
The President earlier revoked a week-long unilateral ceasefire with the NPA last week after the insurgents failed to reciprocate within his 24-hour deadline that ended on July 30.
TALKS WITH MNLF
Meanwhile, Dureza also shared that government continues to push for a peace deal with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
Duterte's peace adviser said they are in touch with MNLF founding chairman Nur Misuari, who is in hiding.
Misuari, however, has yet to hold a face-to-face meeting with government officials because of his standing arrest warrant for rebellion and violation of international humanitarian law, he said.
"We need to sit with him person to person to take this up in great detail. It will happen as soon as this issue on his facing a warrant of arrest is cleared," Dureza said.
Misuari's arrest warrant is connected to the bloody Zamboanga siege that he allegedly masterminded in September 2013.
Dureza said the MNLF is also open to joining a Bangsamoro Transition Commission that would draft an enabling law in lieu of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
The 15-member commission would be composed of 7 government-appointed members and 8 MNLF representatives.