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Tiamzons thank Duterte for releasing CPP-NDF execs

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte made history when he hosted a dinner with communist leaders Luis Jalandoni and couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon at Malacañang on Monday night.

The Tiamzons thanked Duterte for releasing the other officers of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Demcratic Front (CPP-NDF).

Benito is CPP chairman, Wilma is secretary general and Jalandoni is chief peace negotiator.

The dinner was attended by members of the government peace panel led by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza.

The Tiamzons are involved in the peace talks being held in Norway and called by Duterte to settle the more than 30-year dispute between the state and the communist group.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the meeting was more of a “meet and greet.”

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“They thanked the President for releasing the CPP-NDF consultants. They said they are willing to cooperate in the reforms that President Duterte wanted to implement. They are hoping the peace talks will not be canceled,” Abella said.

Before the peace talks started, Duterte ordered the release of at least 18 communist leaders or consultants, including the Tiamzon couple.

CPP founder Jose Maria Sison described the release of his comrades as a gesture of goodwill on the part of the government to allow peace to move forward.

“I heard the entire communist hierarchy wanted to talk to me in Davao, but I was short of time, sabi ko dito na lang (so I said better to have it here). So this would really be the first time that the enemies of the state are here for what you would call civility. Just because we are in a war, it doesn’t mean to say that we have to be at war at all times. We can always talk and maybe it will bring peace to the land,” the President told members of the Malacañang Press Corps hours before the dinner.

He said he is talking and dining with the communist leaders because he is bent on attaining lasting peace for the country.

Duterte had reiterated in his public appearances that he is a president that seeks “peace for the land.”

He has been urging rebel groups, including the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front, to sit down with the government and allow the peace process to push through.

He did not offer the same proposal to the Abu Sayyaf, which is classified as an international terrorist organization.

Duterte said the Abu Sayyaf actions, like beheading its captives whose family fail to pay ransom, are despicable.

The peace panels agreed to resume the Oslo peace talks from Oct 6. to 10. They said the most significant result of the first round of formal talks was an agreement to propose to Duterte the granting of amnesty to the rebels.

Both the government and communist peace panels agreed on an “indefinite unilateral ceasefire,” which took effect yesterday.

They said the joint ceasefire agreement was in response to the President’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire that took effect on Aug. 21. – With Artemio Dumlao

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