Last July 6, 2017, Thursday, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte pardoned ten political prisoners including the peace consultant of National Democratic Front of the Philippines, Emeterio Antalan. The resumption of peace talk considered as the exchange of absolution from the murdered case filed against him on September 17, 2015.
The Office of the President released the documents containing the names of 10 inmates who were given conditional pardon to leave the prison. President Duterte’s promise includes the releasing of political prisoners detained at the New Bilibid Prison to achieve the peace negotiations of Government and Communist groups.
Aside from NDFP peace consultant, Emeterio Antalan, nine political prisoners received the same pardon and were released from New Bilibid Prison last Thursday, around 4 in the afternoon. The following prisoners are:
- Joel Ramada
- Apolonio Barado
- Jose Navarro
- Generoso Rolida
- Arnulfo Boates
- Manolito Patricio
- Barigueco Calara
- Sonny Marbella; and
- Ricardo Solangon
It is the second time that the President of the Philippines pardoned political prisoners especially the sick and elderly. Last December 2016, Duterte pardoned 20 political detainees and released other inmates through “bail recognizance.”
According to Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary, the absolution of political prisoners is good news for their family and friends as they suffered inside the jail for several years due to false accusations and received unimaginable injustices.
Representative Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list stated that the liberation of political prisoners creates a better way to keep the good condition of peace talks. As the vice chairman of House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity, Zarate warned the President to keep an eye and pay attention to the alleged “militarists” during his term. The vice chairman encouraged Duterte to “give primacy to the success of the peace process and not heed the pro-US militarists like Defense Sec. Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Esperon and AFP Chief Año, who are sabotaging the peace negotiations.” He also added that these militarists must be dismissed for not handling the current situation of Marawi City and for pushing the implementation of Martial Law.
On the other hand, Fidel Agcaoili, NDF chief negotiator stated that there are many political detainees remained in the jail whose liberty should be granted general amnesty as promised of President Rodrigo Duterte on May 16, 2016. The promise was part of the resumption of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
This month of July 2017, speakers and negotiators of both sides are set to meet for the thorough discussion about the proposed ceasefire, making better ways to move forward and to proceed to the fifth round of peace talks.
Since the peace negotiations resumed last year, a massive development and excellent progress happened most especially in the Comprehensive Agreement on Socioeconomic Reforms and Comprehensive Agreement on Political Reforms.