Manila: The release of leftist political prisoners has remained a condition for the return of Philippine communist rebels to the negotiating table in Norway end of October or early November, a rebel spokesman said.

"There can be no formal talks if the Philippine government does not release all or most of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG)-protected persons that should have been released (from Philippine prison) before June 2011," said Fidel Agcaoili, spokesman of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the negotiating arm of the 45-year old Communist Party of the Philippines and its military arm, the New People's Army (CPP-NPA).

"The releases must be made three weeks before the formal talks (in October or November) so that both negotiating panels and the third party facilitator (Norway) have ample time to prepare (for the event)," Agcaoili said in the NDF website.

In a joint statement after peace talks in Oslo in last February 2011, both the government and the NDF negotiators said they would comply with JASIG, which was signed by the government and NDF negotiators in The Netherlands in 1995, said Agcaoili.

The Philippine government will continue violating JASIG, if the political prisoners, many of whom are NDF consultants in peace talks, are not released, explained Agcaoili.

Violating international conventions

It will also continue violating the international conventions of war such as Protocols I & II of the 1946 Geneva Convention and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by both parties in The Netherlands in 1998, said the NDF spokesman.

Both the government and the NDF have conflicting numbers of political prisoners to be released.

The NDF has demanded for the release of 17 political prisoners, but the Philippine government said that only four or five of them could be released.

Political prisoners

Some 350 other leftist political prisoners have remained in prison, Agcaoili said, adding, "Their human rights have been violated."

Earlier, Alexander Padilla, the government's chief negotiator said, that the release of political prisoners was not processed because the NDF has not given the government a list of the real names of the political prisoners.

The government has a list of political prisoners who were identified by their ailiases, Padilla explained, adding that the data given by the NDF remained encrypted.

Forked tongue

In reaction, Agcaoili said that Padilla has been "speaking with forked tongue," because he blamed the delay of the release of political prisoners on unsuccessful decrypting of the encrypted photographs (of the impriosned leftists) in the safety deposit box (of the NDF in the Netherlands).

The diskettes that were confiscated by the Dutch government during raids on houses of NDF members in the past resulted in the fouling up of the diskette's decryption code, and Padilla was aware of this, said Agcaoili.

In 1992, Philippine Congress repealed a law that made membership to the CPP-NPA a crime, to pave the way for the start of peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDF.

Murder, illegal weapons

Since then, however, activists belonging to leftist-oriented groups, including members of CPP-NPA who were arrested for political activities were charged with crimes such as murder, carrying illegal weapons, and other ordinary crimes.

Lawyers have insisted on branding arrested leftist activists and CPP-NPA members as political prisoners so that the alleged trumped up cases filed against them could be negotiated in courts.

The Philippine government and the NDF have yet to agree on socio-economic reforms before they agree on ceasefire agreement.

The CPP-NPA was 25,000 strong during the time of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. It has weakened to 5,000 in the mid late 80s, but it has continued control of "red-zones" in far flung provinces where poverty is prevalent and government services are hardly felt