San Carlos bishop seeks release of political prisoners amid pandemic
BACOLOD CITY — San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza has asked the release of political prisoners to decongest the jails in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alminaza pointed out in a statement released on Saturday, March 28, the looming possibility that coronavirus would hit the highly congested jail facilities in the country.
“We must muster courage to address the glaringly high-risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, now forced upon those behind bars,” he said.
To help decongest the jails, he said the more than 600 political prisoners in the country should be prioritized for release as they had been detained on “questionable and dubious charges.”
Alminaza said they should be also be freed on humanitarian grounds since some of them were sick and elderly – considered high risk for the new coronavirus infection.
He said that among them was Fr. Francisco Fernandez, Jr., a frail and elderly peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Fernandez, who was based in Negros Island, went to Luzon for a medical consultation and treatment when he was arrested.
Alminaza said the release of these political prisoners would be a strong confident-building measure in the wake of the unilateral ceasefires called by the Duterte administration and the NDFP towards the fruition of the peace process between the two parties.
For the Island of Negros, the plight of political prisoners is apparent.
Most of the more than 90 political prisoners were arrested in the last 18 months, he said.
Included among these are Church people, activists, and members of farmers’ organizations, said Alminaza.
Edited by JPV
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