PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has granted pardon to four convicted communist rebels, government negotiator Silvestre Bello 3rd said.
In a statement, Bello said farmers Martin Villanueva, Bonifacio Suyon, Dindo Absalon and Rico Bodina, who have already served at least 18 years and up to 26 years in prison, would be released soon.
Villanueva and Suyom were convicted for kidnapping, while Absalon and Bodino served time for murder.
“These rebels have long been recommended for pardon but the previous government did not sign the draft order to release them,” Bello said.
“We are giving them the justice they deserve regardless of their guilt or innocence. They deserve to be freed,” he added.
Bello, who is also Labor secretary, said three more suspected communist rebels were set to be pardoned after the submission of their completed case folders.
The names of 200 detained rebels have been submitted for review and approval by appropriate government agencies, he said.
The Cabinet official explained that communist rebels won’t be able to avail themselves of a presidential pardon or executive clemency “while their appeals are pending and awaiting final entry of judgment.”
“But we have recommended the immediate release of 21 sickly detainees, three other elderly suspected rebels and one woman detainee,” he said.
To date, 434 communist rebels are being held in various detention centers throughout the country.