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Tiamzon couple freed

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon were released yesterday from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, so they could participate in the peace talks between the government and the rebel group.

According to Karapatan, the Tiamzon couple were freed from their detention facility at about 11 a.m. and left the area on board a maroon Toyota Innova.

The Tiamzon couple gained temporary freedom after a Manila Regional Trial Court allowed them to post P100,000 bail each.

Following their release, the Tiamzon couple thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for helping in facilitating their release and that of other political detainees for the resumption of the peace talks.

“Nagpapasalamat kami kay Presidente Duterte na maibabalik sa tamang landas ang usapang pangkapayapaan. Kailangan mapaksa ang makabuluhang usapin sa ating lipunan at mga batayan kung bakit mayroong digmaan na nangyayari,” Wilma said.

“Kami ay nagpapasalamat kay President Rodrigo Duterte sa pagpapalaya sa amin at sa pagbubukas muli ng usapang pangkapayapaan para pag-usapan ang mga malalimang reporma sa lipunan, sa ekonomiya, sa pulitika, na kinakailangan para bigyang wakas ang armadong labanan,” Benito said.

Benito, chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), and his wife Wilma, CPP-NPA secretary general, were arrested by military and police teams in Barangay Zaragosa, Alouguinsan, Cebu, on March 22, 2014.

Authorities said the couple is facing murder, multiple murder and frustrated murder charges before the regional trial court in Northern Samar.

The the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) welcomed the release of the Tiamzon couple from detention.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya, said the release of spouses Tiamzon was done so they could attend and participate in the formal negotiations in Oslo, Norway, in August 2016.

“This springs from President Rodrigo Duterte’s express desire to have an enduring and sustainable peace through formal peace accord. And the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) submit to the wise discretion of the Court and support the magnanimous gesture of the President all in the quest for peace,” Visaya said.

For its part, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said there should be no doubt on the government’s sincerity in attaining a peaceful solution to communist insurgency in the country.

In a statement, OPAPPA said the release of Tiamzon couple is a clear indication of the government’s determination to solve the decades-old issue.

“With their release, in addition to more than a dozen of NDF consultants earlier granted bail and already freed, one more stumbling block is removed. We are looking forward to a fruitful but intense negotiations in Oslo,” Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza said.

The Tiamzons are the last among the detained ranking members of the National Democratic Front (NDF) who were given temporary liberty to participate in the peace talks in Oslo slated on August 22 to 26. (FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD)

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