• Govt to be stricter on visits to Tiamzons

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    THE government peace panel on Friday scored the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for “distorting” information regarding the visiting rights of jailed communist couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon.

    Because of this “distortion” of facts by the NDFP, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) said it was “constrained from making its usual ready endorsement to the PNP [Philippine National Police]” regarding the visitation rights of the Tiamzons.

    In a statement, the OPAPP belied claims by NDFP consultants Randall Echanis and Rafael Baylosis that they were not allowed to visit the couple who are ranking leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.

    “The assertion being circulated by Randall Echanis and Rafael Baylosis of the NDFP that they were denied access to visit Benito and Wilma Tiamzon at the PNP Custodial Center without an explanation is not true,” the office said.

    The government panel maintained that the visits were “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 OPAPP statement said.

    The couple are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

    “As co-peace consultants of the Tiamzon couple in the government-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 3rd 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 Malacañang of systematically obstructing them from exercising their duties as negotiators, drawing the ire of the OPAPP.

    The statement explained that the PNP Duty Officer on April 13, 2014 had clarified to the OPAPP 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 [a human rights group]only on the said date. In light of this, the PNP regretfully informed Echanis and Baylosis that they could not favorably grant the request and they were advised to reschedule their visit,” the agency stressed.

    The request, it was learned, was made through Issa Dumanjug Palo, secretariat head  of the NDFP monitoring committee for human rights.

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