Manila Bulletin

Duterte pardons 4 Reds convicted of heinous crimes


President Duterte has granted presidenti­al pardon to four communist rebels convicted of murder and kidnapping, the head of the government peace panel confirmed last night.

In a statement to media, Government of the Republic of the Philippine­s (GRP) Peace Panel Chairman Silvestre Bello III said Martin Villanueva, Bonifacio Suyon, Dindo Absalon, and Rico Bodino were granted pardon by Duterte to give “them the justice they deserve, regardless of their guilt or innocence.”

According to Bello, the par-

doned rebels, all former farmers, have served prison terms of “at least 18 years and up to 26 years.”

Villanueva and Suyon were convicted of kidnapping, while Absalon and Bodino were serving time for murder – all heinous crimes.

“These rebels have long been recommende­d for pardon but the previous government did not sign the draft order to release them,” said Bello.

The concurrent Labor Secretary said former president Benigno S. Aquino III “sat on the recommenda­tion of the Presidenti­al Committee on Bail, Recognizan­ce, and Pardon (PCBREP) over the release” of Villanueva, Suyon, Absalon and Bodino.

Bello likewise revealed that three more suspected communist rebels serving time but awaiting final entry of judgment are also due for release pending legal requiremen­ts from the courts.

“They cannot avail themselves of a presidenti­al pardon or executive clemency while their appeals are pending and awaiting final entry of judgment,” Bello explained.

But he said a draft order is already prepared for their pardon pending submission of their completed case folders.

Bello also said there could be more releases forthcomin­g.

“We have recommende­d the immediate release of 21 sickly detainees, three other elderly suspected rebels and one woman detainee,” he added.

Apart from these detainees, Bello added that “the names of 200 detained rebels were already submitted for review and approval by appropriat­e government agencies.”

The release of the communist rebels was one of the focal points in the first two rounds of formal peace talks between the GRP and the National Democratic Front (NDF) held in Oslo, Norway in August and October.

According to the Office of the Presidenti­al Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), there are currently 434 NDF members being held at various detention centers throughout the country.

NDP Peace Panel Member Benito Tiamzon had earlier told the Manila Bulletin that the leftist group was confident that the government would release “at least 50 detainees way ahead of Christmas.”

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