Showing posts with label political prisoners. Show all posts
Showing posts with label political prisoners. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gen. Danilo Lim visits hunger strikers at NBP, joins call for release of political prisoners

16 August 2011

Former Scout Ranger commander and an ex-political detainee himself, Gen. Danilo Lim, is joining the human rights community led by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), representatives of the Commission on Human Rights, and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines - National Secretariat for Social Action –Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) in a visit this afternoon to political prisoners at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) who are now on their 23rd day of hunger strike.

Joining Lim is another ex-political detainee, Nilo Tayag, who is now a bishop of the Philippine Independent Church (IFI).

On Saturday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged President Benigno Aquino III to free political prisoners through an executive clemency especially for those who have already served their long and unjust sentences.

Partido ng Manggagawa renewed its call for President Aquino to end the sufferings of the remaining political prisoners as many of them had been convicted on false charges of common crimes.

One of the hunger strikers, Juanito Itaas, was in jail since 1989 for the assassination of US Col. James Rowe, a charged he vehemently denied.  In prison for 22 years, Itaas is now considered one of the longest serving political detainees in the world, next to Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for 27 years for sabotage and high treason. According to reports, Israel is holding the longest serving political prisoner, a Palestinian, who is serving his 34th year in prison.

According to Gen Lim, he and Itaas once shared the same prison compound as he was also detained in connection to the 1989 coup.  Itaas is now leading the hunger strike for freedom at the NBP.

On Sunday night, two more hunger strikers, Diony Sarad and Tendero Fuentes, were brought to the NBP Infirmary for severe abdominal pain.  Doctors from the Medical Action Group (MAG) who joined today’s visit are looking into the health condition of the hunger strikers.

The groups were still hopeful that President Aquino would finally heed their appeal for clemency since political prisoners are not hardened criminals who warrant continued imprisonment for life.

Human rights groups were also set to have a dialogue with the Presidential Human Rights Commission (PHRC) at Malacanang earlier this morning.  Another dialogue with the Department of Justice is scheduled this coming Friday.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Labor group hopeful of the release of political prisoners as peace talks make headway

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) is hopeful the release of political prisoners can be made possible as conditions for the resumption of peace negotiations with the country’s rebel groups get a boost from the Tokyo meeting between President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). 

“We hope that political prisoners reap the early gains from the improving environment for peace talks”, stated PM secretary-general Judy Ann Miranda. 

PM together with the members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) trooped to the Department of Justice this morning to press for the release of all political prisoners.

Miranda said political prisoners should be considered by the government as “beneficiaries” of peace even prior to the conclusion of final peace agreements with the revolutionary movements.

“In fact an act of magnanimity can be extended by the government to political prisoners even without the peace talks as many of them have already served their full sentences from many years of detention,” argued Miranda, citing the case of Juanito Itaas who had been serving prison terms since 1989.

There are still more than 300 political prisoners languishing in different jails all over the country according to human rights groups.  All of them were accused of having links with either the communist or separatist movements but were held for as common criminals.

Political prisoners at the National Bilibid Prison went on hunger strike since President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) to appeal for their immediate and unconditional release.   After the dialogue with human rights groups and DOJ officials last week, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered prison officials to look into the conditions of the hunger strikers.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Labor group to P-Noy: Do a Cory, free all political prisoners

On Cory Aquino's death anniversary, militants rally at DOJ to call on PNoy to release all political prisoners
01 August 2011

President Benigno S. Aquino III “can do a Cory” by ordering the unconditional release of all remaining political prisoners (PPs), the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement as the country commemorates the second death anniversary of the former President.

PM joined the families of political prisoners in a rally held this morning at the Department of Justice organized by human rights groups to press for the release of all the remaining political prisoners in the country.

“Giving political prisoners a chance for new life is a good way of remembering his mother  who was credited for ordering the unconditional release of all political detainees during her time,” said PM secretary-general Judy Ann Miranda.

PM leaders visited the political prisoners at NBP’s Building 11 yesterday. Miranda said ten (10) political prisoners led by Juanito Itaas, the longest-serving political prisoner in the country, are still on full hunger strike while others are on sympathy fasting.

The labor group likewise urged Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to include this issue on top of her many priorities as she had promised to during her dialogue with the political prisoners sometime in 2009 when she was still the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights. 

All of the more than 300 political prisoners in the country were jailed for non-bailable crimes such as murder and kidnapping rather than for political offenses related to their political activities.   Itaas for instance was implicated for the murder of US Col. James Rowe 22 years ago.  He was arrested in 1989 in Davao City. 

Like Itaas, most of the political prisoners are ordinary farmers who were accused of being NPA rebels and were locked up for life on trump-up charges.

“They have suffered enough.  Many of our political prisoners have in fact served in full their life sentences and therefore are already qualified for unconditional pardon,” concluded Miranda.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Labor group to PNoy: Extend clemency to all PP’s but please don’t be late next time

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) appealed to President Benigno S. Aquino III to expand the coverage of executive clemency he gives to qualified inmates by including those who have been convicted for political crimes generally known as “political prisoners” or PPs.
The appeal came after PNoy had been criticised for having his first executive clemency granted to a dead inmate, Mariano Umbrero.  A political prisoner suffering from lung cancer during his many years of incarceration, “Tatay Umbrero” to the human rights community, finally succumbed to death on July 15, four days before PNoy granted his request for clemency.
“The last breath of life could have not been that harsh to Tatay Umbrero if he was given the chance to step out of Bilibid to rejoin his family.  Yet PNoy can ease that grief by giving hope to the collective prayer of his fellow PPs and their families.   Palayain nyo na po sila, Mr. President, at sana ay di na po late sa susunod na pagkakataon,” appealed Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) chair Renato Magtubo.
Magtubo said that in a bid to get the attention of President Aquino, who happens to be the son of a former political prisoner Ninoy Aquino, 11 political prisoners went on hunger strike since July 25 at the Bilibid prison to renew their call for immediate freedom.
The hunger strikers are asking the President to grant the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners who are still languishing in different jails all over the country, as well as prison reforms particularly amendments to the Rules on Parole and Guidelines for Recommending Executive Clemency which they claim, is not in conformity with the principle of restorative justice.
Yesterday several groups including PM joined the solidarity fasting for the PPs sponsored by the human rights community in front of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) office in Quezon City. PM is also joining scheduled activities next week, including an action at the Department of Justice on Monday.
“We know that PNoy has many concerns to attend to but this is one issue which cannot wait for another government to come.  A lost day of freedom for PPs is a lost chance for the likes of Tatay Umbrero to reclaim lost productive life,” ended Magtubo.