Gerardo Dela Peña, oldest political prisoner in the country, walks free

This article is available in Pilipino

After persistent efforts and insistence by Kapatid, a group of relatives and friends of political prisoners, Gerardo Dela Peña, the oldest political prisoner in the country at 85 years old, was finally released yesterday, June 30. He is the oldest among over 800 political prisoners.

Dela Peña walked out of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City last night at around 9:30 p.m. He was fetched and welcomed by his son Melchor who traveled from Bicol. Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim was also present to welcome him.

Dela Peña was arrested on March 21, 2013. He was convicted and sentenced to reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment) for a murder case despite a clear lack of evidence. He is a farmer from Vinzons, Camarines Norte. He served as a leader of the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) and a member of Karapatan.

Since 2019, Kapatid has pushed for Dela Peña’s humanitarian release, but their petitions were repeatedly overlooked and ignored by the state. He suffers from hypertension and other age-related ailments.

“The release of political prisoner Gerardo Dela Peña is a testament to the power of perseverance, vigilance and community in overcoming challenges,” Lim said. She expressed their group’s utmost joy that Dela Peña can now be reunited with his family and wife Pilar.

“His release is a milestone for human rights campaigns, but also serves as a stark reminder of the obstacles that impede the release of political prisoners,” added Lim.

In the nearly five years that Kapatid pushed for Dela Peña’s release, the state made various excuses and deliberate delays. He was not released even when he qualified for release under the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) in December 2023. He endured 12 years and two months in prison.

AB: Gerardo Dela Peña, oldest political prisoner in the country, walks free