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MANILA, Philippines – Juanito Itaas, the Philippines’ longest-detained activist, is now home after spending the last 32 years in jail.
Political prisoners’ rights group Kapatid said in a statement on Saturday, January 8, that Itaas was sent home from the New Bilibid Prison on Friday, January 7.
The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 had ruled in November 2021 to release the 57-year-old Itaas, saying he was “entitled to be credited the equivalent days of the Good Conduct Time Allowances (GCTAs) earned by him.”
The court ruled Itaas has earned 29 years, five months and 23 days worth of GCTAs, or time deducted from sentence, and is deemed to have served his sentence for convictions for murder and attempted murder over the 1989 killing of American Colonel James Rowe, a high-ranking United States soldier based here back then.
Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim thanked the Muntinlupa court for ruling in favor of Itaas and hopes this would pave the way for the freedom of other political prisoners in the Philippines
“We ask the government to let Juanito Itaas live a peaceful life without threats to his security as he deserves to make the most out of every second of his life with his family. This will be the first instance they can begin a normal life together outside prison bars,” said Lim.
Itaas, known as Ka Nitoy, was arrested in 1989 when he was 25 years old when the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) took responsibility for Rowe’s killing. He was convicted in 1991 by a local court.
The Supreme Court later affirmed his conviction in 2000, sentencing him to reclusion perpetua for murder, and up to nine years for attempted murder. The law only allows up to 40 years in prison no matter how many simultaneous sentences you are ordered to serve.
Later that same year, Itaas was among political prisoners granted amnesty from crimes committed because of furthering their political beliefs. – Rappler.com