Duterte: rethink arrest of CPP leaders if peace talks to push through

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 March) —  The government should think twice before hunting down and arresting high-profile members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) if peace talks should push through, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said.

Speaking in his Sunday television  show, “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa,” Duterte said it was pointless to arrest key members of the party while there is an armed conflict back in the hinterlands.

“Whether you like it or not, for talks with the CPP-NPA, people like (Luis) Jalandoni, (Jose Maria) Sison and the Tiamzons will always be important personas there,” he said.

He said the arrest of key leaders would not remove the main regional guerrilla units that are fighting it out with government forces.

“What good would it do if you arrest people like Tiamzon if there are still rebels in the mountains? You can kill a person but not the ideology.”

The mayor said he was hopeful talks between both sides would happen at the earliest opportune time.

Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Austria were arrested by combined units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in Cebu on March 22.

Tiamzon is the chair of the CPP-NPA while his wife is the secretary general.

According to a GMA News Online report, the leaders were arrested for “crimes against humanity that include murder, multiple murders, and frsutrated murder.”

In a statement, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel chair Luis Jalandoni condemned the arrest and demanded the release of the two.

Jalandoni said the Tiamzons were entitled to the safety and immunity guarantees under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).

He said the Tiamzons held letters of acknowledgement signed by former GRP negotiating panel chairman Silvestre Bello III giving them safe passage in the conduct of their tasks in the negotiations.  (MindaNews)