THE government peace panel on Friday scored the National Democratic Front (NDF) for “distorting” information regarding the visiting rights of jailed communist couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.
In a statement, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) belied claims by NDF consultants Randall Echanis and Rafael Baylosis that they were denied access to visit the couple, who are ranking leaders of the Comunist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“The assertion being circulated by Randall Echanis and Rafael Baylosis of the NDF that they were denied access to visit Benito and Wilma Tiamzon at the PNP Custodial Center without an explanation is not true,” OPAPP said.
The government panel maintained that the visits are “given the highest priority for immediate relatives, counsels, or their doctors.”
“All others who do not fall under these categories have to undergo the usual scrutiny and process, which require an application submitted days in advance,” the statement added.
The two NDF consultants said they were barred from seeing the couple, who are presently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
They alleged that they were made to wait from 9 a.m. till afternoon lat April 15 but still were not allowed to visit the couple.
Ehcanis and Baylosis also claimed that n explanation was given to them by anyone from the PNP as to why they could not see their fellow NDF consultants.
“As co-peace consultants of the Tiamzon couple in the GPH-NDFP peace talks, we are lawfully, politically and morally entitled to undertake consultations with other NDFP consultants and the reactionary government of President Benigno Aquino III has no right to prevent us from exercising our duty as peace consultants,” the two NDFP peace consultants said in an earlier statement.
They accused Malacanang of systematically obstructing them from exercising their duties as negotiators, something which drew the ire of the OPAPP.
The OPAPP statement explained that the PNP Duty Officer on that day, April 13, 2014 to be exact, already clarified to them that, as a matter of standard operating procedure, “they need at least one week to process requests for visits.
“Enchanis and Baylosis handed their request letter signed by SELDA only on the said date. In light of this, the PNP regretfully informed Enchanis and Baylosis that they could not favorably grant the request and they were advised to reschedule their visit,” the agency stressed.
Because of this “distortion” of facts by the NDF, the government panel “is constrained from making its usual ready endorsement to the PNP” regarding the visitation rights of the Tiamzons.
The request, it was learned, was made through Issa Dumanjug Palo, NDF Monitoring Committee for Human Rights secretariat head.
JOEL M. SY EGCO