Tiamzons regain freedom

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TOP Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leaders Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma were freed from detention in Camp Crame Friday, days after President Rodrigo Duterte promised that all peace consultants of the National Democratic Front (NDF) will be released.

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The couple left Camp Crame before noon yesterday after the Philippine National Police received a copy of the ruling of a court in Samar granting them temporary liberty. Benito, the chairman of the CPP, and his wife are facing several charges in various courts. Wilma is the secretary-general of the CPP, the political arm of the NDF.

They are facing multiple murder charges at the Manila Regional Trial Court for the deaths of several people whose remains were believed to have dumped in a mass grave unearthed by government troops in Leyte in 2006; kidnapping and serious illegal detention at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 81 in connection with the abduction by the NPA of four soldiers in 1988.

Rachel Pastores, managing counsel of the Public Interest Law Center and legal counsel of the couple, said all courts granted their motions to be released on bail.

The Tiamzons left Camp Crame on board a red car with an “8” license plate, the number usually given to lawmakers and Cabinet secretaries. They stopped for a bit at the gate of the police headquarters to greet their supporters.

They were arrested in March 2014 in Cebu.

The couple thanked Duterte for working for their release so that they can participate in the peace talks scheduled to begin on August 22, 2016 in Oslo, Norway.

‘We thank President Duterte for his efforts to resume peace talks so that we can talk about social, economic and political reforms can be discussed to hopefully end the armed conflict,” Benito said.

He expressed confidence that a peace agreement will be attained despite the many challenges that both the government and NDF panels will have to face.

The Tiamzon’s are among the 22 consultants listed by the NDF for the upcoming negotiations in Norway.

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