Press Statement

February 18, 2016

Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831

Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580

On Serrano’s 40th day memorial Karapatan calls for speedy release of 88 ailing political prisoners

http://www.karapatan.org/Karapatan+calls+for+speedy+release+of+88+ailing+political+prisoners

“As we recall his life today, the 40th day after the death of political prisoner Eduardo Serrano, we also renew our call to immediately release the 88 ailing political prisoners to prevent another tragedy such as Serrano’s,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“Serrano embodied the plight of the 557 political prisoners who are victims of false criminal charges because the State wants to silence them and cripple their political actions that counter the oppressive and exploitative policies and programs of the government,” she added.

Political prisoner and National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Eduardo “Eddik” Serrano passed away on January 8, 2016 due to cardiac arrest while in confinement at the Heart Center of the Philippines. Serrano, a farming consultant and lecturer-trainer-adviser to farmers’ organizations and rural cooperatives, was arrested in May 2004. After being incommunicado for a week, the Armed Forces of the Philippines presented Serrano as Rogelio Villanueva, claiming he was a member of the New People’s Army.

After 11 years in prison, Serrano was awaiting the dismissal of the last two cases against him when he was hospitalized due to heart attack. Four months before his death, in October, Quezon City Regional Trial Court ordered the immediate release of Serrano after it resolved that Serrano is not “Rogelio Villanueva”. A month later, in November, another branch of the QC RTC dismissed the criminal charges against Serrano because the Court deemed the charges as ‘imagined or trumped-up’.

Specifically, we call for the immediate release of, on humanitarian grounds, Adelberto Silva, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, Ramon Argente, Concha Araneta-Bocala, and Alex Birondo. Silva, 68, a peace consultant of the NDFP, had a quadruple angioplasty before he was arrested on June 15, 2015. Austria-Tiamzon, also a peace consultant of the NDFP, has spondylolisthesis (forward displacement of vertebra), hypertension and carotid artery occlusion. Argente has coronary artery disease and had already undergone coronary by-pass. The 65-year-old Araneta-Bocala, another NDFP consultant, has weak lungs because of a history of pneumonia. She also has ulcer, recurring lumbar pain due to scoliosis, anemia, vertigo, goiter, and recurring pain in her left eye, which was operated on previously. Alex Birondo is hypertensive and insulin-dependent because of diabetes. All of them are facing trumped up criminal charges.

“We also call for the immediate release of Miradel Torres, a nursing mother of a one year old boy. Torres was forced to stop breastfeeding her son due to unsafe and unhealthy conditions at the Taguig City Jail where Torres is detained. Torres gave birth to the baby boy while in detention.

“The death of Serrano could have been prevented had the BS Aquino government heeded the call for the release of political prisoners, especially those who are suffering from ailments. About 10 political prisoners died in detention under the Aquino regime,” Palabay said.

“The Philippine government and military’s use the justice system to incarcerate the best among us, and those who truly serve the poorest of our kababayan. This has to stop now,” Palabay ended.

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PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
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Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights

2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District

Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101

Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.