President grants pardon to 4 convicted rebels
President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an order granting presidential pardon to four communist rebels convicted for murder and kidnapping, the chief of the government peace panel said Friday.
“These rebels have long been recommended for pardon but the previous government did not sign the draft order to release them,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
The announcement came a day before relatives of political prisoners and human rights advocates will stage a hunger strike from December 3 to 10 to urge the government to free political prisoners.
According to the government peace panel, there are 434 members of the National Democratic Front in various jails.
Bello said the government peace panel has recommended the release of 21 sickly detainees, three elderly suspected rebels and a woman detainee.
Bello, who heads the government panel holding peace talks with the NDF, said the convicted rebels have served at least 18 years and up to 26 years.
“We are giving them the justice they deserve regardless of their guilt or innocence. They deserve to be freed,” Bello said.
The four prisoners who will walk free Saturday or Monday were identified as Martin Villanueva, Bonifacio Suyon, Dindo Absalon and Rico Bodina.
All of them are farmers.
Bello revealed that three more suspected communist rebels serving time but awaiting final entry of judgment are due for release pending legal requirements from the courts.
“They cannot avail themselves of a presidential pardon or executive clemency while their appeals are pending and awaiting final entry of judgment,”Bello explained.
The government peace panel also revealed names of 200 detained rebels were submitted for review and approval by appropriate government agencies. DMS