Political prisoners go on four-day fastBy Jeffrey M. Tupas
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Political prisoners languishing in different detention cells around the country started a four-day fast Friday to press President Benigno Aquino to order their release, a militant organization said.
Over 300 political prisoners in detention centers in Camp Crame, Camp Bagong Diwa, Bilibid Prisons, Manila City Jail, Quezon City Jail, Central Luzon, Batangas, Cagayan Valley, Central Visayas, Iloilo, Eastern Visayas, Southern Mindanao, Northern Mindanao and Caraga joined the fasting, according to a statement released by the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda).
“Apart from fasting, the political detainees will also conduct noise barrage. The fast will last until Monday as a welcome to the state of the nation address of President Benigno Aquino III,” Selda said.
Among those being detained were Alan Jazmines, Jovencio Balweg, Eduardo Sarmiento and Eduardo Serrano, all peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Also jailed, according to Selda, are Sandino Esguerra, who has been detained in Camp Bagong Diwa for 11 years now while his case remains for promulgation; Rolando Pañamogan, who is in the New Bilibid Prison and suffering from diabetes, deep toxic goiter and congestive heart failure; and Maria Luisa Purcray, the only woman NDFP consultant detained.
The list of detainees also include artists Maricon Montajes and Ericson Acosta, who both hail from UP Diliman.
Angie Ipong, a former political detainee herself and a member of Selda, said the call is for all political prisoners to be released immediately through a general and unconditional amnesty.
Selda, quoting the political prisoners, said the Aquino administration “needs to abide by the agreement between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines peace panels last February for the release of all political prisoners – most of whom are unjustly and illegally imprisoned, and whose release should be part of the confidence-building measures on the part of the Aquino government, if the peace process is to progress.”
“The Aquino government should also abide by its promise to release imprisoned Moro Islamic Liberation Front forces, in order for the peace talks between the MILF and the (government) to proceed and progress smoothly,” the statement further reads.
Ipong said nothing much has changed since Aquino came to power.
“Nothing has been done to serve justice for the illegal arrest, torture and illegal detention of the 354 political prisoners who are still languishing in jails all over the country. Under his term, there were already 45 political prisoners incarcerated,” she said.