Thursday, August 4, 2016

SC asked to release 10 NDF members ahead of Oslo talks

From the Manila Bulletin (Aug 5): SC asked to release 10 NDF members ahead of Oslo talks

Government lawyers have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to release “temporarily and conditionally” from detention 10 members of the National Democratic Front (NDF) so they could participate in the peace talks set in Oslo, Norway this month.
In an urgent motion filed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), being sought to be released temporarily were Tirso Alcantara, Alex Birondo, Winona Birondo, Maria Conception Bocala, Reynante Gamara, Alan Jazmines, Ma. Loida Magpatoc, Adelberto Silva, Benito Tiamzon, and Wilma Tiamzon.
NDF member Rafael Baylosis was included in the list submitted by the OSG to the SC. But in the case of Baylosis, the OSG said that since he jumped bail, he should surrender first and be allowed to post bail.
Baylosis and the Tiamzons have pending criminal cases before the Manila regional trial court (RT) in connection with mass graves in Inopacan, Leyte. The eight other NDF members have pending criminal cases in various courts.
The OSG said the 11 NDF members would act as consultants in the peace talks.
Sources said the SC deliberated on the motion filed by the OSG during its full court session last August 2. The SC’s action on the motion was not immediately available.
The OSG’s motion for the temporary release of the NDF members was filed in connection with four pending cases at the SC. These cases are those filed by Saturnino Ocampo versus Judge Ephrem Abando, Randall Echanis versus Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina, Rafael Baylosis versus Judge Bunyi-Medina, and Vicente P. Ladlad versus Judge Bunyi-Medina.
Last June 14 and 15, the government’s panel met with the NDF panel in Oslo and one of the points agreed upon was to resume the peace talks this month under the auspices of the Royal Norwegian government as third party facilitator.
The OSG’s motion also informed the SC of the government’s resumption of the formal peace talks with the NDF and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA), the agenda of the negotiations, and the key members of the NDP panel “whose attendance in the peace negotiations is crucial to the success of the peace talk agreement.
With its motion, the OSG asked the SC “to issue an order to the individual regional trial courts to order the conditional and temporary release” of the 10 detained NDF members and the grant of bail to another member.
The OSG proposed to the SC five conditions for the temporary release of the NDF members, these are:
1.   “The release of the individuals (identified in the motion) shall be only for the purpose of their attendance and participation in the formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway commencing in August, 2016, and that the period of their temporary release shall not exceed six months, which may be shortened by the earlier conclusion or termination of the formal peace negotiations. The duration of their release, however, must be limited to their actual participation as consultants of the NDF negotiating team. Once their participation ceases or the peace negotiations fail, their respective bonds should be deemed automatically cancelled;
2.   “Their release is subject to the posting of a cash bond of P100,000 with the Office of the Clerk of Court;
3.   “They must provide their complete contact information, both in the Philippines and Norway;
4.   “They shall undertake to return to the Philippines after the formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway. For the duration of the peace negotiations, they will report to the Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines in Norway whenever required; and
5.   “With respect to Rafael Baylosis who has jumped bail and remains at large, he should first surrender to the authorities and submit to the jurisdiction of the regional trial court. Otherwise, he would be deemed to have waived any right to seek relief from the SC.

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