Left blasts ‘surveillance’ of Red negotiator, peace consultant

May 10, 2017 - 12:18 PM
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NDFP peace consultant Wilma Austria and her husband, Benito Tiamzon, member of the rebel peace panel, are seen in this Kodao Productions file photo.

MANILA, Philippines — Leftists slammed Wednesday what they said was the surveillance by motorcycle-riding men of rebel peace negotiator Benito Tiamzon and his wife, peace consultant Wilma Austria, after their visit Tuesday night to farmers from Davao del Norte who had camped out at Mendiola.

The couple visited the farmers hours after President Rodrigo Duterte met with some 200 members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc. at their potest camp.

Bayan said the Tiamzons “were forced to return to Mendiola and seek assistance from peace advocates” around 10 p.m. “because of the relentless surveillance” by the motorcycle riders.

It called the incident “a blatant violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees,” which protects both parties’ negotiators, consultants, and staff from surveillance and arrest.

Bayan urged the government peace panel and the Norwegian government, which is the third party facilitator of the negotiations, to investigate the incident noting that the Tiamzons were also subjected to the same surveillance in March when they returned to the country from backchannel talks in the Netherlands.

“The surveillance appears instigated by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) in another attempt to undermine the ongoing peace talks,” Bayan said, adding that “the peace spoilers are again hard at work.”