President Duterte ready to pardon old, ailing political prisoners before Christmas

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he will release the elderly and ailing political prisoners in the country before Christmas Day.

President Duterte made this announcement before lighting a 12-foot Christmas Tree made of 360 pieces of Las Pinas Christmas parols at the Malacanang Palace buildings in a ceremony attended by 2016 Miss International titlist Kylie Versoza.

”There is no point of detaining a person who is old and sick. I find it very awkward feeling. I’m uncomfortable. So all the elderly, ailing, you can go,” the 71-year-old Filipino leader said in his speech.

President Duterte said qualified detainees for his pardon are those 70-year old and above and suffering from incurable diseases like kidney failure and cancer.

”If they are ready to be released and will be accepted by their families, I will release them before Christmas time,” he said.

The President failed to give the numbers of elderly and ailing political prisoners but reports said there are 25 elderly political detainees and 140 who are sickly.

Meanwhile, President Duterte said he will also agree for the release of over 130 political prisoners if the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) can show peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the CPP-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).

”They’re asking for the release of 130 political prisoners. I said I cannot give you that. I’m sorry but I have already conceded so much on the side of the government,” the President said, referring to the detained CPP-NDF leaders who were allowed to attend the peace talks in Oslo, Norway.

”But if you can show me a document signed by the Republic of the Philippines representatives and the communist, then I will release the 130 plus more,” he noted.

”I know the left have vision for our country. I used to cross the ideological border because I was a student once and I saw the iniquity, the sense of uselessness of the Filipinos, and I saw also the other side how should it be in the government,” President Duterte explained.

As President, Duterte said he pleads for unity of the country free from communal wars and for generation of Filipinos who are able, competent, healthy and good.

”I please for peace so that our citizens can move around anytime of the day or night,” the President said.

He reiterated his campaign promise to extinguish illegal drugs, corruption and criminality in the country.

”Expect to pass to this world but once, therefore any good that I can do to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again,” President Duterte said, quoting from an anonymous writer.

The President also promised to work hard to achieve peace with the Moro rebels particularly with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

”The MILF has shown its sincerity to talk to us about peace. Nur Misuari (of MNLF) chooses to be different but he has said that he will work with us in government to find peace,” President Duterte said.

”So I’m happy except for the extremists, actually that would really be a danger to our country in the days to come,” he added. Jelly Musico/