Sean Emmanuel Florendo

After a decade-long imprisonment marked by human rights concerns, Gerardo “Gerry” Dela Peña, the Philippines’ oldest political prisoner at 85, walked free from New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa on June 30 at 9:30 p.m.

Photo Courtesy of Kapatid/PNA.

His release comes after a long campaign for his freedom, citing his advanced age and the questionable circumstances surrounding his 2013 murder conviction. 

Despite evidence suggesting his innocence and the New People’s Army claiming responsibility for the crime, Dela Peña faced imprisonment.

“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," Fides Lim said, spokesperson of political prisoners support organization KAPATID.

Dela Peña previously led the SELDA Camarines Norte Chapter, an organization advocating for the rights of political detainees and ex-detainees.

According to Lim, Dela Peña’s case exemplifies the strength of unwavering advocacy in the face of adversity.

“The release of political prisoner Gerardo Dela Peña is a testament to the power of perseverance, vigilance and community in overcoming challenges," he said.
As of 2023, a United Nations report stated an estimated 801 individuals remain imprisoned as political prisoners in the Philippines. Of these, 672 are still awaiting trial. 

The majority of these cases stem from the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte, while the current Marcos administration has also jailed approximately 90 activists as of last year