AT LEAST 13 detained consultants of the communist National Democratic Front have been granted bail to allow them to join the resumption of the peace talks between their group and the government in Oslo on Aug. 20.
The fishermen’s group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas praised their release on Thursday.
“Peace is in the air and we can smell it,” group spokesman Fernando Hicap said in a statement.
“The release of these peace consultants is a very good start toward the just and lasting peace that everyone longs for.”
In Cagayan de Oro City, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma hosted a dinner Wednesday night in his house for NDF consultant Alfredo Mapano and his family and friends.
Ledesma hosted the dinner just hours after Mapano was released from the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail to join the peace talks in Oslo.
Jaime Soledad, another NDF consultant, was acquitted of murder last week, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Those allowed to post bail and were recently released were Adelbert Silva, Maria Concepcion Araneta-Bocala, Tirso Alcantara, Ariel Arbitrario, Kennedy Bangibang, Alex Birondo, Winona Birondo, Renante Gamara, Eddie Genelsa, Alan Jazmines, Ernesto Lorenzo, Alfredo Mapano and Ruben Saluta, Palabay said.
CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon and his wife, CPP secretary general Wilma Tiamson, who were detained in Quezon City after their arrest in Cebu in March 2014, will lead the other NDF consultants in Oslo.
They will be joined by former Rep. Satur Ocampo, Fidel Agcaoili and Edre Olalia.
Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza will lead the government panel in the talks along with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and former Alaminos, Pangasinan Mayor Hernani Braganza.
Palabay dismissed the reports that 20 NDF consultants had already been out on bail.
“We are still working on their papers,” she said.
Some lower courts had not yet issued a bail order, she said.
Judge Florencia Abbu ordered the temporary release of Mapano despite his failure to post a P100,000 bail for his robbery-with-homicide case.
Mapano’s lawyer, Francisco del Castillo, said Abbu decided to release his client after consulting with the Supreme Court.
Mapano had posted bail in Malaybalay City for the 11 counts of murder, frustrated murder and car theft raps against him.
Del Castillo said Mapano was with his family at the residence of Archbishop Antonio Ledesma in Cagayan de Oro City Wednesday night.
The NDF requested Mapano’s release so he could help in the peace process because of his experience on political and constitutional reforms. He was the former CPP head in Northern Mindanao.
The NDF said President Rodrigo Duterte was bent on granting amnesty to all political prisoners to end the 40-year-old communist insurgency.