DOJ: Oldest political prisoner, Gerardo dela Peña, could be released 'soon'

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) --- The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the case of Gerardo dela Peña, the country's oldest political prisoner, is now under the Board of Pardon and Parole, and that he could be released "soon."

During the House plenary session tackling the DOJ’s proposed budget for 2024 on Thursday, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro asked the department for updates pertaining to Dela Peña's case.

"Yung kaso niya po ay napakarami, pero 'yung sitwasyon niya ngayon ay nandoon na po sa Board of Pardon and Parole, so hindi na matatagalan at makakalabas na si Tatay Dela Peña from NBP (New Bilibid Prison), " Rep. Peter Gonzaga, vice chairman of the Committee on Appropriations, said on behalf of the DOJ.

[Translation: His cases are many, but his situation now is at the Board of Pardon and Parole, so it won't be long before Dela Peña is released from NBP.]

In January this year, human rights groups called for the release of the 84-year-old inmate, citing "subhuman conditions" in the national penitentiary that "aggravated his ailments." 

Castro also said Dela Peña should be released for humanitarian reasons, considering his age.

In Dela Peña's situation, Gonzaga said the best way is to apply as a beneficiary for presidential pardon since application for parole means he has to comply with the minimum period for all his charges.

"There is an assurance from the DOJ that kung sino yung mga mas matatanda mas uunahin na sila sa mga proseso para makalabas 'yung mga katulad ni Tatay Dela Peña," Gonzaga said.

[Translation: There is an assurance from the DOJ the elderly will be prioritized in the processes so that those like Tatay Dela Peña could be released.]

A farmer from Camarines Norte, Dela Peña has been detained for nearly a decade, claiming he was "wrongfully" convicted at age 74.

Organization Kapatid said they have submitted Dela Peña's name to the Justice department every year since 2019 for humanitarian release.