5 NDFP consultants allowed to travel abroad for peace talks

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 9) — Five consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will be able to participate in the peace of talks with the government in the Netherlands in June.

The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 on Friday granted the motions of Benito Tiamzon, Adelberto Silva, Rafael Baylosis, Randall Echanis and Vicente Ladlad to be allowed to travel abroad.

CNN Philippines obtained a copy of the court order on Saturday, signed by Presiding Justice Thelma Bunyi-Medina.

The court said the consultants claim they have "indispensable" roles as part of the NDFP peace panel, which represents communist rebels in talks to end the Communist Party of the Philippines' nearly five decades of insurgency.

The court said informal talks will be held from June 22 to 26, while the formal peace talks are set to resume on June 27 to 30.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said the talks may formally resume in July, while NDFP Chairman Jose Maria Sison said it was initially scheduled for June 28.

The court set several conditions in allowing the NDFP consultants' travel. For one, they should personally and submit themselves to the authority of the court, giving their contact information in the Philippines and abroad.

"Once the peace negotiations are terminated, the respective bonds of the NDFP accused-movants shall be deemed automatically cancelled," the court ruled.

Tiamzon and Silva were also ordered to post a P100,000 bail, as their earlier bail bond was canceled when the court ordered their rearrest in January this year.

They were granted provisional liberty in 2016 to participate in peace negotiations, but the Justice Department requested their arrest after Duterte walked away from the talks in November 2017.

The NDFP consultants were charged with multiple counts of murder for allegedly killing civilians, whose bodies were discovered in 1986 in a mass grave in Leyte. The communist rebels claim these are trumped-up charges.