Release of political detainees pushed

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Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Monday sought the immediate release of political prisoners as agreed during the recent peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

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Zarate, the vice chairman of the House Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity, issued the call to free 50 detainees, including women, the elderly, sick and those who have been detained for years.

“While this is a welcome development, we hope that the release of political prisoners can be further expedited because most of them have been languishing in jail for more than 10 years,” Zarate said in a statement.

“Wag na sana nilang antayin pa ang Pasko bago pa palayain ang mga bilanggong politikal, dahil malala na ang kanilang dinaanan sa kulungan [Let us not wait for Christmas to free these political prisoners because they have suffered enough in detention],” he stressed.

“We also hope that the House leadership will immediately schedule the hearing of House Resolution No. 17, which is co-authored by Speaker Pantaleon ‘Bebot’ Alvarez. This will certainly bolster the legislative support in the campaign for the release of all political prisoners who are now languishing in various jails of the country,” Zarate added.

NDFP consultant and former Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) Secretary General Wilma Tiamzon also echoed the lawmaker’s call.

Tiamzon said the plan to release political detainees before Christmas would be too long.

Tiamzon along with her husband, Benito, were released from the Philippine National Police Custodial Center on August 19 after posting bail.

The Tiamzons were two of the 20 NDFP members who attended the peace negotiations in Norway.

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