GPH confident heading towards Oslo talks

The government panel (GPH), which resumes peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Oslo in Norway, said it is confident most of the detained rebel leaders will be released in time for the formal opening on August 22. Panel chairperson Silvestre Bello said it is important that the NDF panel is already constituted when the peace negotiations are resumed in Oslo. He said the decision of the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City on Thursday, August 11, to grant the petition for bail for couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon and Adelberto Silva augurs well for the temporary liberty of other NDF consultants who are named by the NDF for the Oslo talks.

GPH panel member Rene Sarmiento attended the petition for bail filed by the Tiamzon to underscore the importance of the peace process. The Tiamzons were arrested in Cebu City in March last year. At the time of his arrest, Benito Tiamzon was reportedly the chairman of CPP; while, his wife was head of its finance committee.

The NDF has listed 22 NDF consultants who are now detained as crucial to the peace talks.

Bello also earlier said the government will not pose objections for their temporary liberties after the Supreme Court urged the lower courts handling their cases to act expeditiously on the petitions for bail of detained rebel leaders for the purpose of joining the peace talks. Panel member Angela Librado cited the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the government prosecutors from the Department of Justice for their indispensable cooperation in the temporary release of the NDF consultants via the motions for bail.

The OSG has been entering court appearances during bail hearings and vigorously representing the government peace panel to underscore the immediacy of the peace process.

Librado, however, added that their release should follow regular court proceedings. She expects more detained rebel leaders will be released this week. Peace negotiations with the NDF are being revived upon orders of President Rodrigo Duterte who wants to end armed hostilities between the government and communist-led New People's Army (NPA), the armed component of the Communist Party of the Philippines. The NDF is the political umbrella of the CPP and the NPA.

"The sooner we are able to sit down and commence the peace negotiations the better is the prospect for the cessation of armed hostilities," the government panel said in a statement.

Two more detained leaders who are named as NDF consultants were already released but the panel however declined to name the rebel leaders for security purposes. Meanwhile, Bello urged the people to support the peace talks and not be swayed by sharp exchanges between President Duterte and the leaders of the NDF.

"We have no doubt in our mind that the President is determined to pursue peace negotiations with the NDF," the Labor secretary said.

"We have to understand," he added, "that both parties will try to come to the peace table with our own and respective agenda and formula."

Source: Philippine Information Agency