NDF hopeful 3 more consultants freed before second round of talks in Oslo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 September) — The National Democratic Front (NDF) is hopeful that the remaining three peace consultants who remain in detention will be released ahead of the second round of formal peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway on October 6 to 10.

NDF peace panel chair Luis Jalandoni told a peace forum at the Holy Cross of Davao College Friday that they are banking on an earlier pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte that he will “walk the extra mile” to pardon the three remaining out of the 22 detained political prisoners identified as NDF consultants.

He identified them as Eduardo Sarmiento, Leopoldo Caloza, and Emeterio Antalan.

“(We are) hopeful. We think it can be done,” Jalandoni said.

“Dineclare na at nagpromise na si Duterte ‘I will pardon them, I will walk the extra mile’. Ang commitment nya lahat ng NDF consultants ay ma-release para makapag-participate,” the NDF peace panel chair said.

Duterte had dinner with Jalandoni in Davao City on September 22.

Sarmiento was sentenced on December 11, 2013 to 20 to imprisonment of 40 years by Judge Myra Bayot Quiambao of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 203, for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Caloza and Antalan were convicted of murder on September 17, 2015 by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 266 after six years of trial, for allegedly killing one Kathlyn Ramos, allegedly a “deep penetration agent” from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

Jalandoni hopes the three consultants can join them when they leave for Oslo on October 5.

In last month’s first round of formal talks, both panels affirmed the previously-signed agreements; agreed to accelerate process for negotiations, including the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks, socio-economic reforms, political and economic reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces; and agreed to reconstitute the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list.

In the second round, Jalandoni said the two panels will discuss the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms and the Reciprocal Working Groups on Political and Constitutional Reforms, and End of Hostilities-Disposition of Forces (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)