By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Incoming House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez co-authored two separate House resolutions supporting the resumption of peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and calling for the release of political prisoners.
House Resolution 16 urges President Rodrigo Duterte to pursue peace talks with the NDFP, release detained NDFP consultants in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).
House Resolution 17, meanwhile, urges President Duterte to release all political prisoners, especially the elderly, those with illnesses, those imprisoned for more than ten years on humanitarian grounds.
Both resolutions were filed June 30.
According to human rights alliance Karapatan, there are 519 political prisoners in the country. Eighty-eight are ailing, 48 are elderly and 18 are NDFP consultants.
Both resolutions were authored by Makabayan bloc representatives including Bayan Muna Carlos Isagani Zarate, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao, Gabriela Women’s Party Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, Kabataan Party Rep. Sarah Elago and ACT Teachers Party Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro.
Zarate thanked Alvarez for his support. “…[t]his is definitely a boost in fast tracking the release of all political prisoners and augurs well for the scheduled resumption of the formal peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).”
Zarate called on other legislators to support the resolutions, which, he said, aim to contribute in the quest to address the roots of the armed conflict and for the attainment of a just and lasting peace.