From the Manila Times (Jan 6): Government open to CPP-NPA demands
THE government is willing to negotiate with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and may consider the release of at least five rebel leaders for the sake of peace, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said on Tuesday.
The government, Gazmin stressed, is serious in its desire to talk peace with the communist leadership. Negotiations are ongoing for the possible resumption of peace talks between the government and the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“Yan naman ay under negotiation, pwedeng pag-usapan, pwedeng ibigay, pwedeng hindi. Depende yan sa usapan but ang importante rito both parties are amenable to sitting down and talk to each other,” Gazmin said.
“We will have to weigh the options if it is fair or will it accomplish our objective, then we will do it,” he added.
The CPP-NPA-NDF has earlier demanded the unconditional release of rebel leaders, including Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma and Allan Jasminez.
NDF head Luis Jalandoni claimed that the Tiamzons have immunity from arrest as provided under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee for the duration of the peace negotiations.
But the Armed Forces of the Philippines had said the NDF had repeatedly demanded the release of political prisoners but later on abandoned peace negotiations.
The military however said that even if it is against the release of detained communist leaders, the decision rests with the President.