Malacañang Palace Grounds
December 5, 2016

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the traditional lighting of the Malacañang Christmas Tree held at the Malacañan Palace grounds.

Upon his arrival, the President greeted Miss International 2016 Kylie Versoza, together with some 1,500 guests composed of Malacañang officials, employees and other invitees.

In his keynote address, the President gave updates on the ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines and the communist groups, saying that Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III and his team would be flying to Oslo, Norway for the continuation of the peace talks.

President Duterte said that he will release political prisoners who are 70 years old and above and suffering from incurable diseases. “If they are ready to be released and will be accepted by the families, I will release them before Christmas time. There’s really no point in detaining persons na matanda na tapos may sakit…It’s a very awkward feeling,” he said.

Speaking about the peace process in Mindanao, the Chief Executive expressed his joy on government’s progressing talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

“The MILF has shown its sincerity to talk to us about peace. Nur Misuari (MNLF) chooses to be different, but he has said that he will work with us in government to find peace,” he added.

Furthermore, the President mentioned about the PhP 5 billion-check (allotted for his socio-civic projects fund) that he received from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). This will be apportioned to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and/or to the Department of Health (DOH) to provide free medicines for the poor.

The program proper showcased various performances from the Philippine Pops Orchestra, Mandaluyong Children’s Choir, Mr. Robert Sena, Ms. Isay Alvarez, Mr. Richard Poon and the Office of the President (OP) Chorale.

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