Political detainees launch protest fastBy Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
ILOILO CITY—Political detainees in Iloilo have been fasting for nearly a week calling for the release of all political prisoners in the country.
The six political detainees at the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center (IRC), 34 kilometers north of here, have not eaten food and subsisted on water since September 14, said Reylan Vergara, secretary general of the Panay chapter of the human rights group Karapatan.
The fasting will end on Sept. 21 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.
The political detainees that have joined the fast are James Latumbo, Jojie Belo, Josie Gabion, Joemer Degayo, Bernard Gicalao and Dennis Dote.
They are alleged members of the New People’s Army who were charged with common crimes including murder, arson and illegal possession of firearms, Vergara said.
“The political detainees, lawyers’ groups and human rights organizations are calling for the release of political detainees and to stop the continued practice of charging political dissenters with common crimes,” he said.
Vergara said the protest formed part of a nationwide campaign of political detainees calling for the unconditional release of 360 political prisoners detained in various prisons in the country.
“President Aquino should heed the call of the political detainees because his family has also experienced the pain of having their loved one detained for many years for their political beliefs,” Vergara said.
The President’s father, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was among the prominent political figures kept in prison by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.