MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday revealed that he will meet with Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, two high-ranking leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“I’ll be talking to the Tiamzon couple. Iyan talaga ang pinaka matigas diyan sa Communist Party. It’s not (Jose) Maria Sison,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City, referring to the exiled founder of the CPP.
“Iyan ang mahirapan kami. So I invited them.”
The Tiamzons were among the communist leaders earlier released by the courts in order to participate in the peace talks with the government.
The meeting comes amid the challenges being faced by the government and the leftist movement over the release of 432 political prisoners.
The CPP has been growing impatient over what it says was the failure of the government to make good on its promise to release the political detainees.
In a statement on Friday, the CPP it is waiting for the Duterte government issue an amnesty proclamation for 432 political prisoners, as stated in the August 26 Oslo joint statement between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, CPP’s political arm.
The CPP issued an ultimatum to the government to comply with what the two parties agreed upon. It said failure to comply may result in the collapse of the unilateral ceasefire and close the door for a bilateral ceasefire.
“The revolutionary forces are extending their patience and giving the Duterte regime up to the month of January to comply with its obligation to release all political prisoners,” said the CPP.
The CPP rejected the government’s plan to release 50 political prisoners by the end of December, saying the release of 432 prisoners is the only acceptable path.
The intensifying calls by various militant groups were made in the wake of the death of political prisoner Bernabe Ocasla, a peasant leader who was being considered for release on humanitarian grounds.
As this developed, government chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III announced Friday that Duterte has grated pardon to four communist rebels convicted of murder and kidnapping.
Bello said the government is now working for the release of about 200 detained rebels. He said the recommendation to have the prisoners released have already been submitted for review.
Bello asked for more patience from leftist groups over the release of political detainees.