MANILA - President Duterte has promised to pardon 127 sick and elderly prisoners next week, fulfilling a vow he first made in November, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Wednesday.
Aguirre said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea gave an update on the granting of executive clemency during their Cabinet meeting last Monday.
Duterte, who was sitting beside Medialdea, overheard the conversation and promised to approve the pardon next week.
"Magkatabi po kasi si Pangulo at si ES Medialdea so parang nalaman ni Pangulo na hindi pa napipirmahan. Ang sabi, kung ganoon, aniya, sige next week, aprubado iyan," he said.
(The President and ES Medialdea were sitting beside each other so the President learned that the pardons have not been signed yet. He said it will be approved next week.)
Duterte said in November that he will grant executive clemency to inmates aged at least 80 who have served at least 40 years of prison time.
"Lahat ng matatanda saka may sakit, iyung may rayuma na, hindi na makatakbo, 80 years old above -- kung gusto nila, kung may mauwian pa sila, I will grant them pardon also so that they could return home," he told reporters.
"Iyung nakatira diyan nang 40 years or more, they deserve to be out," he added.
Duterte failed to pardon the inmates in time for the last holiday season because of his busy schedule, Aguirre earlier said.
The President's promise came after he granted absolute pardon to actor Robin Padilla, restoring the latter's civil and political rights, which may enable him to get a US visa so he can be with his wife and newborn child.