Political prisoners my last card – Duterte

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President Rodrigo Duterte will not be swayed into releasing 130 political prisoners, saying the peace talks may not push through.

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“We’re playing a poker game here. Maubos ang baraha ko. I-release ko lahat iyan ano pa ang pag-usapan namin [I will lose all my cards if I release them all]?” Duterte told reporters at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Bicol International Airport in Legazpi City.

Duterte said he could not release the political detainees because they are his “ace cards” to ensure the success of peace talks with the communist rebels.

The President admitted that he has yet to see “substantive” developments in the peace negotiations.

“This is how it is. I have conceded to the communists to much too soon. As yet I have to see a substantive progress of the talks. They are asking for 130 detainees to be released, all NPAs (New People’s Army). Sorry, I cannot do that,” he said.

“I cannot do it because uubusin nila ang baraha ko. Iyang alas ko yung nasa kulungan [I cannot do it because I will lose all my cards. Those who are in jail are my ace cards],” the President added.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has been demanding the release of 432 political prisoners through an amnesty proclamation.

Duterte said he may release the political prisoners if the CPP signs a document for a ceasefire.

“I want a document that would be honored because that would be under the good offices of Norway and with the participation of the Norwegians. They will sign a document…It’s a signed document that there is an agreement for a ceasefire for an indefinite period until such time that we can sort out things,” he said.

“I do not want a war with anybody. I do not want to kill…I am tired of killing. Tapos na ako niyan,” the President added.

The CPP rejected the government’s plan to release 50 political prisoners by the end of December, saying all political prisoners should be freed. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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