But bats for resumption of GPH-NDF peace talks
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has echoed the claim of Jose Ma. Sison, exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder, that the arrest of two CPP top leaders cannot put an end to the revolutionary movement.
But trumpeting the arrest, Malacanang said the arrest was a big blow to the communist movement.
You can kill the person but not the ideology, said Duterte, commenting on the arrest of CPP head Benito Tiamzon, his wife Wilma Austria Tiamzon in Cebu, in his Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa television program on ABS/CBN-Davao on Sunday, March 30,
“You kill Tiamzon but the fight continues,” he said.
Despite my arrest during martial law, the armed revolution did not stop but continued to grow because the root causes of the armed revolution were not at all solved by capture and detention,” said Sison in an interview with a Philippine broadsheet after the arrest of the Tiamzons, in an attempt to belittle the arrest’s impact on the revolutionary struggle.
Duterte also said the arrest of the Tiamzons could strike another blow at the mothballed peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the political arm of leftist organizations in the Philippines.
Before the arrest of the Tiamzons, there were persistent reports that the peace negotiations would be resumed.
The off-and-on peace talk was last suspended in 2011 over the NDF’s demand that arrested leaders of the NDF be released prior to resumption of new rounds of talks.
Sison, Jalandoni (NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni), Tiamzon…they are very important in the peace talks, he said.
Duterte said the arrest of the Tiamzons may have violated prior agreements on immunity from arrest of NDF personalities.
He admitted he did not have full grasp of the agreements but said he had been given inputs about its provisions by former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III, now sitting in Congress for the partylist group I-BAP, who chaired the Philippine government panel in talks with the NDF in Norway in 2001.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, however said the Tiamzons cannot invoke immunity from arrest under the Philippine-NDF Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) because the talks have been suspended. She also said the Tiamzons have two standing warrants of arrest.
Bello, interviewed by alternative online news Davao Today, said nothing has changed since Jasig was signed by the government and NDFP during his time at the Department of Justice.
“There is not change in the Jasig because it is still the agreement that governs,” Bello told the Davao City-based news site.
“The Jasig took effect upon signing by the parties and will be in effect until it is terminated by either party through a written notice,” Bello said. “The idea is for them to consult with their forces, so that they go around to talk to their people because they conduct their own negotiations with us. In order not for them to be arrested while they are going around, we issued them a safe conduct pass.”
The Philippine military says Benito Tiamzon is the current head of the CPP and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).
Nevertheless, Duterte said he hoped that the legality or not of the Tiamzons’ arrest would be “sorted out as soon as possible” and the government and the NDF should resume the talks.