MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has granted 10 inmates conditional pardon, a move welcomed by the human rights group Karapatan.
Duterte signed on June 28 the papers granting conditional pardon for the 10 inmates, including a consultant of the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
The political prisoners, who were convicted of charges ranging from theft to multiple murder, are Apolonio Barado, Arnulfo Boates, Barigueco Calara, Sonny Marbella, Manolito Matricio, Joel Ramada, Generoso Rolida, Jose Navarro, Ricardo Solangon, and NDFP consultant Emiterio Antalan.
As conditions for their release, the inmates are ordered to avoid "injurious or vicious habits," allow the police to visit them for inquiries on their conduct or condition, endeavor to be employed regularly and support their families, and comply with orders that the Board of Pardons and Parole may make.
"Should any of the of the conditions be violated, the sentence imposed shall again be in full force and effect,” the documents on the conditional pardon read.
Karapatan, which was first to announce the pardon grant, welcomed the development.
"This is good news for their families, friends and supporters who have witnessed how their loved ones have been wrongly convicted for trumped-up charges and have endured unimaginable injustices throughout their years in jail," said Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay.
Duterte earlier ordered the release of several political prisoners, including top New People’s Army leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, so they could participate in the peace talks.
Palabay said the release of additional prisoners "should not be, in any way, used as a bargaining chip by the government to impose on the NDFP a bilateral ceasefire agreement and further undermine discussions on the substantive agenda such as human rights and international humanitarian law, socioeconomic and political reforms."
The government and the NDFP are now gearing up to hold their fifth round of talks, following a setback due to the Communist Party of the Philippines’ statement against Durerte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao.
This, despite Duterte’s continued protest against the NPA’s collection of so-called revolutionary taxes.