Bello: President Duterte will honor promise to free all
By ANTONIO L.
COLINA IV - DECEMBER 27, 2016
DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 December) – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III
on Monday said he does not doubt that President Duterte would fulfill his
promise to release all political prisoners as part of the peace
negotiation with the National Democratic Front.
Bello, also the chair of the government peace panel in talks with the NDF,
issued the statement in Paquibato District here where he attended the 48th
founding anniversary celebration of the Communist Party of the
“President Duterte has given word that he will release all political
prisoners, and I don’t doubt his word,” he said in Filipino.
Local Government Secretary Mike Sueno and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello
III attend the 48th founding anniversary celebration of the Communist
Party of the Philippines in the hinterland village of Lumiad in Paquibato
District, Davao City on Monday, December 26. Mindanews Photo
He added the GRP panel was working on the release of 17 to 20 political
detainees before the year ends.
Around 50 to 70 detainees were earlier promised to be released in time for
the International Human Rights Day last December 10.
Bello explained the release has been delayed by the need to follow
He said it would have been easier if the political prisoners were already
convicted by final judgment because the President can just pardon them.
“Meron iba kasi may (The others have) pending case against them, so the
cases are pending in court. So it will be the court who will decide if
they will be given temporary liberty,” he said.
“Ang pangako ng president na palalayain nya lahat pero dadaan sa (The
President promised to free all but they have to go through a) legal
process. And besides, may sinabi si Presidente na (the President said) he
is willing to declare a general amnesty subject to the approval of the
Congress. I think this will be an act of the President after a final peace
agreement has been signed,” he said.
Last December 6, a statement from the Office of the Presidential Adviser
on the Peace Process quoted Duterte as saying there will be no substantial
release of political prisoners unless the two parties signed a bilateral
“Produce to me a signed bilateral ceasefire agreement and I will release
them within 48 hours. You can take my word for it,” Duterte said.
The President said he would lose all his cards if he releases all
political prisoners while still in the thick of negotiations.
But this did not sit well with the communists who said Duterte likened the
release to a card game to force the NDFP to enter into a bilateral
Connie Ledesma, a member of the NDF peace panel, alleged that government
troops continued to violate the unilateral ceasefire declaration issued in
August by Duterte.
She said there has been a clamor within the CPP to lift its unilateral
But Bello said that they have not received reports of the alleged
He said complaints should be addressed to the GRP peace panel, Commission
on Human Rights and Department of Justice.
The GRP and NDFP panels will resume the third round of peace negotiations
in Rome, Italy on January 18 to 25 to flesh out the Comprehensive
Agreement on Socioeconomic Reforms (CASER).
The CASER, described as the “heart and soul” of the peace negotiations,
contains the most contentious issues such as agrarian reform, national
industrialization, and foreign policy.
(Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)