THE leaders of the National Democratic Front (NDF) who were earlier given temporary liberty will need to go back to their detention cells if the peace talks between the government and the communist rebels will not continue, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said.
In a chance interview with Aguirre at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, he said that with the peace talks' scrapped, the NDF leaders, including Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, who were earlier given conditional release to participate in the peace negotiations in Oslo, Norway, must go back to their detention cells.
"Yun kasing pag-bail eh conditional. Halimbawa wala ng peace talks, dapat lang na sila'y bumalik sa kanilang detention cell (Putting them on bail is conditional. If peace talks will not continue, they should return to their detention cells)," Aguirre said.
Asked further if authorities can now arrest the 17 NDF leaders that were given provisional liberty, he said: "[Hindi] kung halimbawang covered pa din sila nung temporary liberty na binigay sa kanila (No, if they are still covered by the temporary liberty given to them) for them to participate in the peace talks."
"Mafoforfeit mo lang naman ang bail kung maviviolate ang conditions ng bail. Otherwise kung hindi na-break yung condition ng bail, then hindi muna sila maaresto (They can be arrested if the bail will be forfeited by violating certain conditions set)," Aguirre added.
The DOJ chief, however, urged the peace negotiators to surrender, had the order of the court on their conditional release lapses, "as a sign of good faith."
Aguirre pointed out that the political prisoners were given temporary liberty only for their participation in the peace negotiations and the President's pronouncements terminating the peace talks last Saturday means that there will be no reason at all to release the said rebels.
The conditional liberty was given to the leaders of the NDF last August 2016 by the Supreme Court.
The order will lapse this month, February. Meaning, without a court order extending their provisional liberty, the political prisoners can be arrested.
"Kung tapos na yung six months dapat magrenew sila. Wanted na sila pag di sila nag renew (They must renew after six months, or else they will be considered wanted)," Aguirre said.
In a statement on Sunday, NDF peace panel chair Fidel Agcaoili said their peace consultants have returned to the country last January 31.
Agcaoili said the prisoners are set to file for an extension of their original six-month liberty for the continuation of the peace talks.
Asked if the government will stop its move for extension, Aguirre said: "Bahala sila mag-move. Ang magdedecide nyan would be the court (It's up to them to make a move. It's the court that will decide)."
The NDF, the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, represented the rebels in the peace negotiations to end the 47-year-old uprising waged by the New People's Army. (SunStar Philippines)