Manila court orders arrest of Tiamzons

MANILA, Philippines – The Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 issued arrest warrants for National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants Benito Tiamzon and his wife Wilma Tiamzon, as well as Adelberto Silva.

The court recommended no bail for the 3, for 15 counts each of murder.

The 3 had been set free at the onset of President Rodrigo Duterte's term to allow them to participate in the government's peace talks with communists. The talks have since collapsed.

Branch 32 Presiding Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina signed the arrest warrants last January 11.

She was acting on the motion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to cancel the bail bonds of the NDF consultants and send them back to prison.

Aside from the Tiamzons and Silva, the DOJ also canceled the bail bonds of 6 other NDF consultants.

The consultants argued before the court that Duterte's Proclamation No. 360 terminating the peace talks has not been served to the NDF negotiating panel, which was required by the agreement between government and the communists.

They also reasoned that Duterte has backtracked twice on the peace talks, suggesting that things could still change.

"The issuance of warrants of arrest against [us] is like a Gordian knot difficult to undo, and will certainly defeat all efforts and expectations by various peace advocates," the NDF consultants said in their pleading.

But the judge said the court "finds no reason to further allow their temporary liberty." (READ: FAST FACTS: The CPP-NPA-NDF and the Oslo talks)

Appeal

The NDF consultants' legal counsels from the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) said they are considering an appeal "even if it is seemingly a long shot under the present circumstances."

"We maintain that the peace negotiations have not yet been terminated properly and in accordance with the solemn and binding protocol mutually agreed upon by the parties," the NUPL said in a statement.

It added that the consultants' reasoning is warranted by "fairness, practicality, and principle" in the context of peace talks.

"No one in his right mind will participate in any peace negotiations if the protections and guarantees of safety and immunity for such involvement can easily be brushed aside, even under the colorable legal theater of one party," the NUPL said.

It was unclear as of posting if the warrants have already been served. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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