By Reynard Magtoto
On their way home, leaving the iron bars in the Bilibid.
Two Bicolano Political Prisoners were among 10 political prisoners including a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant, detained at the New Bilibid Prison, granted pardon by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Political prisoners Apolonio Barado and Sonny Marbella are expected to be with their families next week in their respective provinces, Albay and Sorsogon.
The release was ordered on July 6. Among pardoned political prisoners are Peace consultant Emeterio Antalan, along with Joel Ramada, Jose Navarro, Generoso Rolida, Arnulfo Boates, Manolito Patricio and Josue Ungsod.
The pardon came after Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III recently announced they are conducting informal meetings with the NDFP for the possible resumption of formal negotiations in August.
Duterte signed the documents on June 28 while Malacañang released the documents granting “conditional pardon” to the inmates on Friday, July 7.
Pardoned Bicolano PPs
Barado, 63, was arrested on August 9, 2001 after being ‘wrongly’ convicted for trumped up charges of multiple murder and frustrated murder. He suffered a heart attack and has coronary artery diseases, hypertensive cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.
Barado is a ‘pride’ of Lamba, Legazpi City in Albay province.
Meanwhile, Sonny Marbella was born on October 2, 1975 and a resident of Sitio Riot, Lungib, Pilar, Sorsogon. Before his arrest, Sonny worked as a driver and an alleged member of the CPP-NPA.
He was arrested at Brgy. Salvacion, Sorsogon City on February 20, 2002.
Duterte promised during the 2016 presidential election to release all political prisoners in a bid to revive the peace negotiations with the NDFP.
The presidential pardon of the 10 political detainees is Duterte’s second release after he released 19 NDFP consultants in August last year in time for the first round of formal negotiations in Oslo, Norway.
Too few, too late
NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili, however, said the release of the 10 prisoners is “too few and too late”, and in fact volunteered by the GRP Panel for the Christmas season last December.
“It is just a fraction of the 409 political prisoners still in detention whose liberty was supposed to have been given through general amnesty as offered by PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) on 16 May 2016 as part of the package to resume the peace negotiations with the NDFP,” Agcaoili told Kodao Productions.
“It took more than six months for that voluntary offer to happen,” Agcaoili complained.
According to Agcaoili, this manifests the regime’s total lack of empathy and concern for the plight of political prisoners who are/have been in prison for trumped up charges in violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). (BaretangBikolnon.com)