Nani Braganza, top rebel leaders hold initial talks
MANILA, Philippines – Former Agrarian Reform Secretary Hernani Braganza met with key officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA) in a rebel lair in Surigao del Sur on Friday, December 26.
Armed Forces spokesman Col Restituto Padilla said in a statement that the military facilitated the security of Braganza and members of his party who went to a rebel camp as government emissaries sent to "follow up peace talks with the movement." The CPP celebrated its 46th founding anniversary on Friday.
"The chief of staff, in a gesture of sincerity and our adherence to the SOMO, has requested General Aurelio Baladad of Eastern Mindanao Command to facilitate the attendance of the members of CPP-NPA-NDF.... and the safety of Secretary Hernani Braganza and members of his party who also attended as government emissaries who will follow up peace talks with the movement," Padilla said.
As of 6:15 pm, Braganza had left the camp and was on his way to the city, Rappler learned from a source who was at the camp.
Among the rebel leaders he met with were Jorge Madlos, spokesman of the National Democratic Front-Mindanao, and Fidel Agcaoli, who lives in exile in Utrecht and is a key member of the NDF peace panel, the same Rappler source revealed.
The event was both a celebration of the party's anniversary and a peace talks "consultation" with Mindanao rebels, the source said.
The meeting came on the day the CPP announced it was holding negotiations with the Aquino government.
A former congressman and ex-agrarian reform secretary, Braganza has ties with some of the key CPP leaders because he was a former student activist under the National Union of Students of the Philippines.
Braganza's presence at the camp was also meant to facilitate the release of 3 policemen who are still being held captive by the NPA-Mindanao, the source said.
The NPA gave assurances the cops will be released soon, the source added.
Earlier, the NPA released two soldiers they abducted last August 22.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source from the diplomatic community earlier told Rappler that Braganza has been in talks with CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, who also lives in exile in Utrecht.
A member of the Liberal Party, Braganza ran for governor of Pangasinan in the 2013 elections. He lost. – Glenda M. Gloria/Rappler.com