Peace talks reopening? Duterte tells Bello to talk to Joma Sison

Robie de Guzman   •   December 6, 2019   •   625

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday revealed he will be sending former government chief negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to talk to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.

Duterte did not elaborate on the topics that may be discussed between Bello and Sison but he said that he has not yet given up hope on reopening peace negotiations with the communist group.

“This is the first time that I will reveal it, I’m sending Secretary Bello… He should go there, talk to them…basta I’m sending him back to Sison and talk to him about…malaman ninyo ‘yan pagdating ng panahon,” he said on Thursday night during a situational briefing with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council on the effects of typhoon Tisoy.

The president said this after lamenting about the country’s decades-long problem on the insurgency.

“Three times we attempted to talk sense dito and it has always failed…I cannot stop. Hindi ko sabihin na ayaw ko makipag-usap, that is not a statement of a leader, of a President,” he said.

“If he agrees, ito ang sabi ko, last card. When I say last card, my time is running out,” he added.

Sison is living in the Netherlands on a self-exile.

Last year, ties between Duterte and Sison went sour after the chief executive accused the rebel group of launching attacks against government forces even while the negotiations are ongoing.

In March 2019, Duterte formally terminated the peace talks with the CPP-National Democratic Front of the Philippines-New People’s Army. – RRD (from the report of Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte appoints ex-Cabinet Secretary Evasco as adviser on gov’t processes

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Former Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco will rejoin President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration as his adviser on streamlining of government processes, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Evasco’s appointment papers were signed on November 24. He will have a rank of Secretary.

Evasco was Duterte’s former Cabinet Secretary but he resigned in 2018 to run as a governor of Bohol province. He lost to incumbent Bohol Governor Arthur Yap in last year’s midterm election.

“PA Evasco is not new in the Duterte Administration having served as Cabinet Secretary in the early years of the current administration,” Roque said in a statement.

“His familiarity with the present bureaucracy would contribute greatly in his new task of streamlining government processes in the Executive. Welcome back, PA Evasco,” he added.

Evasco previously served as mayor of Maribojoc town in Bohol. He also served as Duterte’s campaign manager during the 2016 presidential elections.

RJ Jacinto named as Duterte’s adviser for telecommunications – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte (center) with Ramon “RJ” Jacinto (right)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Information and Communication Undersecretary Ramon “RJ” Jacinto as his adviser for telecommunications, Malacañang announced Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Jacinto’s appointment papers were signed on November 25. He will have the rank of Secretary.

Jacinto previously served as Duterte’s Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs and Information Technology.

“We are therefore confident that PA Jacinto would ably and effectively discharge his duties in this new assignment,” Roque said in a statement.

Jacinto’s appointment was announced a day after the Palace told local telecommunications companies, Smart and Globe, to submit a report on the steps they have taken to comply with the Duterte’s call to construct more cell sites and expand their services before the end of the year.

Duterte in July threatened to shut down Smart and Globe if they fail to improve their services by December.

DILG orders manhunt for Tiamzon couple

Robie de Guzman   •   December 1, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday said it has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to intensify the manhunt for Benito Tiamzon and his wife, Wilma who are allegedly high ranking officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año issued the directive several days after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 216 sentenced the Tiamzon couple to up to 40 years of imprisonment for kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges.

The Tiamzons were also ordered to pay damages and civil indemnity to the complainant amounting to P225,000.

The cases stemmed from the abduction of Army Lt. Abraham Claro Casis with three other soldiers in Candelaria, Quezon Province. The group was allegedly held captive by members of the New People’s Army for 75 days.

“I have instructed the PNP to intensify the manhunt for these communist terrorists so that they can serve the sentence imposed on them by the court,” Año said in a statement.

“The decision of the Regional Trial Court is a great victory for the Filipino people because of their crimes against humanity. As top leaders of the Communist Party and its armed wing, New People’s Army, they kidnapped, killed, and tortured so many people and burned so many equipment,” he added.

The DILG chief believes that the Tiamzons are still in the country based on intelligence reports.

“I exerted a lot of effort in capturing them in 2014. I was then chief of ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines) when they were arrested in March 2014. I spent almost half of my career looking for this couple,” Año said.

The Tiamzon couple was first arrested by government operatives in Barangay Zaragoza, Cebu City in March 2014 after many years of hiding.

But they were released from detention in 2016 to participate as consultants in the peace negotiations between the NDF and the government in Oslo, Norway.

They were ordered re-arrested in August 2018 after the peace talks were subsequently canceled. Both have since failed to appear in court.

“They cannot run and hide forever. Sooner or later, matitimbog din sila ulit at haharapin ang mga kasalanan nila sa ating bayan. I am confident that we will see them behind bars soon,” Año said.

According to the DILG, the couple is also facing multiple murder charges over the Inopacan Massacre where a mass grave was unearthed by soldiers in 2006. The said site was purportedly where suspected military informants within the Communist terrorist groups (CTG) were purged.

CPP founder Jose Maria ‘Joma’ Sison is also a co-accused in the case.

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