25 June 2016


Bishop Felixberto Calang

Rights and peace groups welcome Duterte release of political prisoners

MANILA, Philippines – Convenors of the upcoming International Conference for People’s Rights in the Philippines (ICPRP) welcome the plan of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to release political prisoners even before the signing of a general amnesty.

The plan was bared by former Justice Secretary and now incoming Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III as part of the government peace panel in negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

“We welcome this gesture of goodwill as being conducive to the peace talks,” Bishop Felixberto Calang said.

Bp. Calang is InPeace Mindanao chairperson and spokesperson for the International Conference for People’s Rights in the Philippines (ICPRP), a global rights meet scheduled next month in Davao City to be convened by InPeace, EcuVoice, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) and Karapatan..

Rights groups are calling for the release of all political prisoners especially 18 NDFP peace consultants and the sick and aged. Of the 509 total political prisoners to date, 88 are ill and 48 are elderly.

The preliminary talks in Oslo last week saw the signing of a joint statement by NDFP and the incoming GPH panel signifying both parties’ commitment to substantive points for the formal round of negotiations next month.

These include: 1) Affirmation of previously signed agreements; 2) Accelerated process for negotiations, including the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks; 3) Reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) list; 4) Amnesty Proclamation for the release of all detained political prisoners, subject to the concurrence by Congress; and 5) Mode of interim ceasefire.