Dureza: Release of political prisoners still depends on ‘judicial procedure’

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Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III greets Senator Cynthia Villar who celebrates her 66th birthday on Monday (Aug 1,2016) at the Session Hall of the Senate in Pasay City. Senators Gringo Honasan and Maria Lourdes Nancy Sombillo Binay look on.(MNS photo)

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III greets Senator Cynthia Villar who celebrates her 66th birthday on Monday (Aug 1,2016) at the Session Hall of the Senate in Pasay City. Senators Gringo Honasan and Maria Lourdes Nancy Sombillo Binay look on.(MNS photo)

MANILA, Aug 2 (Mabuhay) – Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) peace consultants Benito and Wilma Tiamzon are among the political prisoners who will be considered for release in connection with the resumption of peace talks between the government and the CPP,  presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza said Tuesday.

Dureza, however, said the couple’s release will depend on “judicial procedure.”

“[T]he Tiamzon couple were included in the list they (CPP) submitted that we have to do our best efforts for their release,” he said.

“As to whether or not they will eventually be released, [that] will depend really du’n sa procedure, judicial procedure that we have to comply with. Kaya kasama sila doon kapag naituloy ‘yun at ma-comply natin ‘yung requirements ng courts for their possible release,” Dureza added.

The Tiamzons were arrested by military and police personnel in Barangay Zaragoza, Aloguinsan, Cebu on March 22, 2014. They are facing kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges in connection with the four soldiers held captive by the New People’s Army, the CPP’s armed wing, for about two months in 1988.

Aside from these charges, the couple are also facing cases of rebellion and crimes against humanity, including murder dating back to 1988.

Dureza said the government is exerting its “earnest effort” to make the release possible in time for the resumption of peace talks in Oslo, Norway, on August 20.

“We’re doing our best right now to comply with these processes. Legal processes kasi, judicial processes ang susundin. Hindi lang basta sabihin ng Pangulo, ‘Labas na kayo diyan.’ These are cases pending in court. They are in prison,” he said.

He added: “[K]ahapon nag-order ulit ang Pangulo just to find out whether kaya nating ipalabas ‘yung mga consultants nila and negotiators nila, so they’ll be there in time for the negotiations on August 20.”

Dureza, however, clarified that the release of political prisoners is not a pre-condition for the resumption of the negotiations.

“Walang pre-condition dito,” he said. “If you notice in the signed joint statement namin in the exploratory meeting in Oslo, isang agenda item lang ‘yun… And the language is: ‘Our panel, our side, will recommend to the President the possible release of [political prisoners from the] CPP-NPA-NDF.”

“Best efforts na. We’re doing our best now, because we feel it’s but fair. But I’d like to make it clear, it’s not a pre-condition in the resumption of the talks there in Norway,” he added.(MNS)

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