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'5 top Reds go into hiding'

FIVE of six rebel leaders with standing arrest warrants who were supposed to participate in the now canceled peace talks in Oslo have gone underground, a military source said, even as Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for the situation.

“Duterte has made it impossible for our consultants to present themselves before the proper courts. Duterte removed the safe environment for them to face the court again,” Sison told Manila Standard in an interview during the weekend.

“In deciding to cancel the June 28 resumption of the formal peace talks, Duterte has killed the possibility of our six consultants to join the negotiations. It is difficult to talk to someone who acts crazy and flipflops like Duterte,” Sison added.

A Manila court earlier allowed CPP chairman Benito Tiamzon, Adelberto Silva, Randall Echanis, Vicente Ladlad and Rafael Baylosis to leave for Norway for the peace negotiations. 

From left - right: Tiamzon, Baylosis, Echavis, Silva, and Ladlad
A separate court in Taguig also allowed communist leader Alan Jazmines to join the five as consultants of the CPP-National Democratic Front.

Defense lawyer Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center said it would not come as a surprise if her clients, except for Baylosis who is still under detention, would jump bail and refuse to surrender.

“With the exception of Baylosis, the others are not in police custody. Who can blame them [if they have gone underground]? There is a clear threat to their security and lives. This government has branded them terrorists,” Pastores said in a phone interview.

“The decision of the government to postpone the peace talks was so unfair. It was a waste of time and money. Lokohan ba yan? [Are they trying to pull a fast one on us?] The security and freedom of the NDF consultants should not be based on whimsical decisions of the government,” she added.

Baylosis posted a bail of P150,000 but he has yet to be released while Silva paid P100,000 in bail.

“If they do not surface, I don’t think anyone can blame them. I can’t do anything about that,” Pastores said.

On Friday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the safety and immunity guarantees extended to the NDF consultants no longer stood.

“Since the peace talks were deferred upon orders of the President, the basis for the court order [for their release] no longer exists and the prosecution will consequently move for the revocation of said orders,” Guevarra said.

“The NDF consultants should thus present themselves to the courts for proper disposition as a sign of good faith,” he added.

Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde said it would be “problematic” if the communist leaders refused to present themselves before the proper court.

“If they do that, not only the PNP but the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well are ready to hunt them down again,” Albayalde said.

Topics: Communist Party of the Philippines , Jose Ma. Sison , President Rodrigo Duterte
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