CPP remains hopeful on immediate release of political prisoners

UTRECHT, The Netherlands—The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) remains hopeful that President Rodrigo Duterte will soon release the remaining 434 political prisoners in accordance with the commitments the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiating panel with the National Democratic of the Philippines (NDFP).

The CPP said Duterte’s release of the remaining political prisoners will complete the process started by his release of 19 peace consultants who were able to participate in the first two rounds of formal negotiations in Oslo, Norway last August and October.

Despite NDFP’s expression of uneasiness over the “snail-paced” release of the political prisoners, the CPP said that as an avowed Leftist President, Duterte is “surely sympathetic to the plight of political prisoners.”

“It is well within the prerogative of GRP President Duterte to declare a general amnesty to cause the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners to quickly end their suffering.  He can breakdown all legal obstacles to affect their prompt release,” the CPP said.

The NDFP noted that there has been no new release of political prisoners after the first 19 peace consultants since August.

Thorny issue

The NDFP demanded the immediate release of political prisoners in its opening statement at the start of the second round of formal talks last October 6 in Oslo, Norway.

(Read: GRP-NDFP second round opens)

The release of political prisoners and the amnesty proclamation were the issues that took the NDFP and the GRP the longest to resolve in last week’s formal negotiations.

In their October 9 Joint Statement, the GRP Panel affirmed its commitment to work for the swift release of the detained prisoners listed by the NDFP.

“They (the Parties) took good note of the positive steps so far taken, including the finalization of the Revised Guidelines on the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon, and agreed to accelerate the process consistence with the Parties’ common resolve,” the statement said.

Replying to a question at a press conference after the talks’ closing ceremony, GRP Negotiating Panel chairperson Silvestre Bello III said the GRP will deliver on the expectations of the NDFP, the CPP and the New People’s Army.

Bello said they will not give a timeline but it is possible to release all political prisoners.

The NDFP said GRP’s compliance with its commitment and Duterte’s promise to release political prisoners will boost the prospects for a bilateral ceasefire agreement and acceleration of the peace process. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)