Duterte to release around 20 political prisoners by Dec 25 – Bello

CHRISTMAS RELEASE. In this file photo, members of the government panel discuss the process of releasing political prisoners.

File photo by Edwin Espejo/OPAPP

MANILA, Philippines – Around 20 political prisoners are likely to be released by President Rodrigo Duterte before Christmas, December 25, said government panel chief negotiator and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

Bello, in a chance interview with reporters on Monday, December 19, said "around 20" political detainees may be released.

"Mostly these are the sickly, elderly, and women," said Bello.

Asked if they will be released before December 25, he said, "Dapat (Should be)."

They will be released on humanitarian grounds or bail recognizance. One to 3 of those released may join peace talks between the government and National Democratic Front, the negotiating arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The two sides are set to resume formal peace talks in Rome early next year.

The Left is currently demanding the immediate release of around 130 political detainees out of the total 432.

Duterte, however, wants the government panel and NDF to first sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement before he releases the 130 prisoners.

The Duterte government has so far released at least 20 political prisoners, including alleged New People’s Army chief Benito Tiamzon, so they could participate in the talks.

But the release of the rest is taking “way too long,” the CPP has said. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.