Tuesday, 1 April 2014

PIA News Dispatch - Sunday, March 23, 2014

Government peace panel says Tiamson and wife not covered by joint safety, immunity guarantee agreement

The peace panel of the Government of the Philippines believes that the leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Benito Tiamson and his wife, Wilma, also a top leader of the organization as finance officer who were arrested in Carcar, Cebu on Saturday are not covered by JASIG or the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee signed with the CPP-NDF in 1995.

In a briefing aired over government radio dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the peace panel of the GPH found the Tiamson in fact had violated several stipulation of JASIG and therefore rendered them not covered by the Agreement.

“You will recall that both the NDF and the GPH agreed to a procedure in July 2011 to verify the true identities of several dozen alleged NDF consultants in the list of JASIG –protected individuals carrying aliases,” Lacierda read from a statement prepared by the peace panel..

“But through no fault of government, the NDF failed to open their own files that purportedly contained the photos and true identities of the said NDF consultants,” he added.

“This failure had the effect of rendering the JASIG inoperative for those using aliases and those who are not directly involved in the peace process. If indeed Benito Tiamzon was listed under an alias, he is no longer covered by the JASIG,” he continued.

“Wilma Austria Tiamzon, on the other hand, jumped bail when she escaped from detention on December 26, 1989, when there were no peace talks, and six years before the JASIG came into effect. This makes her ineligible for JASIG protection, even assuming she was identified in the JASIG list by her real name,” he added.

He pointed out that the rebels “only have themselves to blame for rendering the JASIG inoperative for most of their alleged consultants.” PND (rck)

Government ready to defend citizens amid possible retaliation from the CPP-NPA

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is prepared to defend civilians amid possible retaliatory attacks from members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) following the arrest of its two ranking leaders, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, in Cebu last Saturday.

“We are always aware, fully aware of the possibility of retaliation, and our armed forces are always ready to defend the population,” Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in an interview over Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

Malacañang lauded the efforts rendered by the AFP and the Philippine National Police in capturing the fugitive couple who were on the "most wanted" list of authorities for crimes against humanity, including murder, multiple murder, and frustrated murder.

“We’ve captured their leadership, the top leadership at the very least, the Tiamzon couple, who are heading the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army) here in the Philippines,” Lacierda said when asked if the government considers the development as a ‘big blow’ to communist insurgency.

Malacañang upheld the legality of the AFP’s arrest on the Tiamzon couple amid excuses from the National Democratic Front (NDF) that they are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG) which the government signed with the CPP-NDF in 1995.

Lacierda said the JASIG list was rendered ‘inoperative’ by the government owing to the NDF’s failure to open the floppy disk containing the names and identities of their consultants in which the Tiamzons are supposedly listed.

Malacañang, however, said the Philippine government under the Aquino administration remains open to the resumption of the peace process with the CPP-NPA-NDF, urging its members to “to lay down their arms and return to the fold of the law.”

“We are always ready for talks to address a doable and time-bound substantive agenda and we continue to hope to get to that point sooner rather than later,” Lacierda said quoting Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles. PND (hdc)

Palace asks transport groups to abide by legal processes in seeking fare hike

Transport groups seeking fare increases should abide by the processes of the law, Malacañang said on Sunday, amid reports that the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association of the Philippines (FEJODAP) plans to collect additional P0.50 charge from their passengers even without the Land Transportation Franchising Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) approval.

In an interview over the state-run dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said he is hoping that transport groups would not make a unilateral decision on their fare petition at the expense of the riding public.

“Sana huwag naman nilang gawin ‘yon kasi ang maaapektuhan po ang general population… If there was any fare petition, that will certainly be reviewed and discussed. But if there is none, they know fully well that there is a process to abide by when there is an issue of a fare hike,” he said.

LTFRB Chairman Winston Ginez in a statement said the February 2014 Motion for Provisional Increase of P0.50 in jeepney fare—from P8.00 to P8.50 for the first four kilometers—has now been submitted for resolution after the petitioners have submitted evidence in support of their appeal.

The petition was filed by public utility jeep (PUJ) transport groups led by FEJODAP, Alliance of Concerned Transport Organization (ACTO), Pangkalahatang Sanggunian Manila and Suburbs Drivers Association Nationwide (Pasang Masda), and Liga ng mga Operator sa Pilipinas (LTOP) last December 2013.

“The LTFRB is expected to resolve the motion this week. Having submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of LTFRB, petitioners cannot increase PUJ fare without approval of the agency. If PUJ operators will increase fares without the approval of LTFRB, the latter will impose sanctions against them after notice and hearing,” Ginez said.

“It is also not true that PUJs voluntarily decreased the PUJ basic fare from P8.50 to P8.00 in 2012. On March 20, 2012, the Board granted their motion for provisional increase from P8.00 to P8.50. But in a Decision dated May 14, 2012, the Board recalled the provisional increase and denied their Petition for Fare Hike filed in November 2011,” he added. PND (hdc)