The legal left welcomed the release of consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, saying this augured well for the imminent resumption of formal peace negotiations between the Duterte administration and communist rebels on August 22.
At the same time, four of the freed detainees called on government to release the rest of their fellow consultants and the more than 500 political prisoners in the country.
As of Thursday afternoon, the NDFP consultants released on bail are:
- Winona Birondo
- Alex Birondo
- Kennedy Bangibang
- Ruben Saluta
- Tirso Alcantara
- Allan Jasminez
- Renante Gamara
- Ernesto Lorenzo
- Jaime Soledad
- Alfredo Mapano
- Concha Araneta-Bocala
- Ariel Arbitrario
- Eduardo Genelsa
- Adelberto Silva
However, she said the expected release of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, ordered by four trial courts where they are facing charges, had yet to take place because of the "callousness" of Arnel Apud, warden of the PNP Custodial Center.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, in a statement, called the release of the rebel consultants “historic” in “terms of number and significance” and underscored the “goodwill on the part of the Duterte administration.”
It hailed President Rodrigo Duterte for showing “he is willing to do more for the peace talks with the NDFP than his predecessors,” Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III, during whose terms negotiations came to a standstill.
Bayan said the releases “raise hopes” the talks would resume “on a positive note and that new agreements beneficial to the people will be forged” as it called the consultants “a formidable addition to the peace negotiations as they can draw from their rich experience in advancing the national and democratic interests of the people.”
In a separate statement following their release from Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City Wednesday, Jazmines, Lorenzo, Gamara and Alcantara expressed appreciation “that the matter of the questionable, if not dubious, arrest and detention of NDF peace consultants by previous regimes is now being rectified by the new Duterte regime,” citing the interventions leading to their release.
“If wrongly detained NDF peace consultants are now freed and are able to participate in the peace talks, we expect that they will be able to qualitatively help a lot in the NDF's work in the peace process,” they said. “In the meantime, we are also seriously pushing for the soonest release of all other political prisoners -- more than 500 of them throughout the country.”