Communists demand release of all political prisoners or...

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - First Page -

DAVAO CITY – Communist rebel leaders have demanded the immediate release of more than 500 political prisoners in exchange for a longer truce with Manila.

Last week, the government and Communist Party of the Philippines or CPP both issued a limited truce ahead of the formal resumption of peace negotiations between the two sides in Oslo, Norway.

Communist leaders said the unilateral declaration of ceasefire is to celebrate and bolster the resumption of peace talks which began on August 22 and ended on August 26.

It also coincided with the release from prison of two senior rebel leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, who joined the panel of CPP negotiators headed by its founder Jose Maria Sison, along with over a dozen other communist leaders also released from jail.

Martin Andanar, a government spokesman, said: “The President has already walked an extra mile for peace. He is glad that the Communist Party of the Philippines, New people’s Army and National Democratic Front showed a similar gesture of goodwill as a sign of sincerity to the peace process days prior to our talks in Oslo, Norway.”

“We therefore feel optimistic that the mutual efforts of both sides would lead to fruitful negotiations that could pave the way for substantive discussions in the hope of putting an end to one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies.”

The communists said it will only lengthen the truce if Duterte frees all political prisoners.

Rubi Del Mundo, a rebel spokesman, said the government should immediately release all the remaining 540 political prisoners languishing in various jails across the country.

“The NDFP expects the immediate release of the remaining 540 political prisoners in compliance of the Duterte government to the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the Joint Agreement for Security and Immunity Guarantees."

"The success of the talks en route to a viable peace accord between the two governments in the Philippines rests in the main on GPH’S— especially the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police and their paramilitaries’— adherence to previous agreements and the serious deliberation of the roots of the civil war. In these objectives, the NDFP and the entire revolutionary movement have been and continue to be firmly resolute,” Del Mundo said.

The rebels have been fighting for decades for the establishment of a separate Maoist state in the country.

Philippine government and communist peace panels during last week's negotiations in Oslo Norway in this photo released by the Office of the Presidential Peace Advisor on the Peace Process under Sec. Jesus Dureza.

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