Reds told: Lay down arms and get amnesty

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte  on Tuesday  said he is willing to issue safe conduct passes and grant political amnesty to four top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines  who are in jail, as long as the rebels lay down their arms and give way to the peace process initiated by the government.

“Good thing that we’re talking to the Communist Party of the Philippines and we hope to have a firm agreement by the end of the year if [Jose Maria Sison] would come home,” Duterte said during the 69th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga.

PAF turns 69. President Duterte leads the celebration to mark the Philippine Air Forceís 69th anniversary on July 5, 2016 at Haribon Hangar, Clark Air Base in Pampanga. REY S. BANIQUET
“I am ready to give him safe conduct passes, including the Tiamzon couple and [Luis] Jalandoni,” he said.

Government peace negotiator Hernani Braganza had earlier said that up to 21 consultants are currently on the list of those being considered to be given safety conduct passes from the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity 

Guarantees were mostly CPP and NDF officials who were previously part of the initial stalled talks between the government and the communist rebels, all of whom are incarcerated in different parts of the country of criminal charges.

Leading the list are spouses Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, who both held senior ranks within the armed communist movement and were arrested on murder charges in Carcar, Cebu last March 2014.

Sison, CPP founder and Jalandoni, NDF chief peace negotiator, are currently seeking asylum in Utretch.

Duterte, however, said that he’s not ready to release everyone unless the talks between the government and the reds were “successful.”

He added that granting a general amnesty might be possible for all political prisoners, but only if there are successful talks and the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army would surrender.

Braganza said that a general amnesty can be possible through legislation or amnesty can be granted by the President of the Philippines.

In both cases, however, Congress would have to approve the amnesty grant.

Braganza said that the progressive bloc in the Lower House may sponsor a measure in seeking to grant amnesty to all political prisoners.

President also reiterated that he will talk to both the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front.

Government negotiators earlier went to The Netherlands to ink a five-point agenda with the communist upon resumption of the talks, which includes an affirmation of previously signed agreements; an accelerated negotiation process, reconstitution of the previously signed Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees; an amnesty proclamation with the concurrence of Congress; and the mode for an interim ceasefire.

Earlier, incoming Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said that simultaneous peace talks will be pursued to accelerate the already 40-year peace efforts with the CPP to come up with a final peace agreement in 9 to 12 months.  

Topics: President Rody Duterte , CPP , NDF , peace process , laydown arms and get amnesty
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