July 18, 2017
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-979058
Release ALL political prisoners, stop filing trumped up charges vs civilians and activists
“Their release is only partial remedy to the injustices inflicted upon political prisoners by the State,” said Karapatan deputy secretary general Jigs Clamor during a mobilization in front of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) on July 18, 2017.
As of June 2016, Karapatan’s tally puts the number of political prisoners to 416. From this number, 121 are sickly, 35 are elderly, 36 are women, and 7 are peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Of the 416, 57 have been arrested under the Duterte administration. Karapatan also documented an increased number of victims of illegal arrests in Mindanao, since the imposition of martial law.
Karapatan said that “these forms of violations will worsen, as long as the State policy of targeting activists and political dissenters through illegal arrests and trumped up charges continue.”
“From the time that they were arrested without warrant, to incidents where their right to due process was violated, it has been an ongoing process of injustice. Why prolong this? Why constantly delay and deny what is due them? This is worsened as ongoing State policies have further encouraged illegal arrests and have added to the number of political prisoners. Duterte has given political prisoners a leeway to hope when he promised their release, only to take it away. Nothing fully encapsulates this sentiment but the Filipino word: paasa,” said Clamor.
Clamor, however, noted that certain developments have been welcomed by political prisoners, their families, human rights and peace advocates, and progressive organizations. This includes the recent release of ten (10) wrongly convicted prisoners from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) last July 6, 2017. “It came late and is far from the release of 200 political detainees on humanitarian grounds or the amnesty of all political prisoners promised by this administration,” he added.
Clamor reiterated that “human rights and peace advocates, and progressive organizations, will never tire from demanding the release of all political prisoners. We will never stop exposing the injustices done against them; we will never stop repeating that they are victims of State repression and are suffering years in jail for trumped-up and fabricated charges.”
“While peace saboteurs Delfin Lorenzana, Hermogenes Esperon and Eduardo Ano block the release of political prisoners and meaningful discussions on economic, social and political reforms, they put forward an absurd precondition and a non-substantive agenda, the bilateral ceasefire agreement,” he asserted.
“We thus challenge the OPAPP, the GRP panel, and the President himself to work ceaselessly and without excuses and conditions for the immediate release of political prisoners. We condemn any malicious move to use political detainees as a leverage for the GRP to compel the NDFP to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement and bypass the other substantive agenda. We again remind the government that the release of political prisoners is not a game of tug-of-war, but is ultimately an issue of injustice,” concluded Clamor.
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
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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.