Death of political prisoner shows double standards in justice system, group says
MANILA, Philippines — The death of a 67-year-old political prisoner, who succumbed to stomach cancer, shows the alleged double standards of the country’s justice system, rights group Karapatan claimed on Friday.
According to Karapatan’s secretary general Cristina Palabay, the death of Antonio Molina, who was detained at the Puerto Princesa jail, contradicts the justice system’s reasoning for allowing high-profile individuals like former senate president Juan Ponce Enrile and former first lady Imelda Marcos to remain free despite the fact that they should be in jail.
Karapatan said that Molina, a member of the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan, died on Thursday night at the Ospital ng Palawan.
“As we grieve with the family, friends and colleagues of Tatay Antonio Molina, we deplore the heartlessness and injustice he suffered from being imprisoned on trumped-up charges and the denial of his plea for compassionate release,” Palabay said in a statement.
“While moneyed and powerful people like Juan Ponce Enrile and Imelda Marcos have been granted bail for massive crimes against the people, poor people like Tatay Antonio have been time and again cruelly denied humane treatment,” she added.
Enrile is facing plunder charges before Sandiganbayan for allegedly bagging kickbacks from pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, for diverting funds into bogus non-government organizations operated by the latter. Plunder is usually a non-bailable case, but the courts allowed Enrile to walk out of jail for health and humanitarian reasons.
Marcos on the other hand was convicted by the same Sandiganbayan for transferring funds into Swiss accounts when she was still occupying posts in government as member of Batasang Pambansa, Metro Manila governor, and as minister of human settlements.
As early as July 5, Karapatan was already asking for medical attention for Molina, months after he was diagnosed with cancer. Palabay said in the previous reports that the political prisoner needs medical treatment before it gets late.
However, Karapatan claims that Molina was only brought to the hospital after his heart rate collapsed, in which he had to be intubated after experiencing cardiac arrest.
Molina was arrested with other six activists after he was accused of being in possession of different firearms. The group claimed it was planted only by soldiers and police officers.
“These political prisoners had life-threatening illnesses when they were arrested and detained on trumped up charges, and conditions inside prisons have made their conditions worse. Their incarceration had made them more vulnerable – being in an environment that exposed them to minimal if not nil health care and treatment, overcrowded and highly stressful conditions,” Palabay said.
“These deaths highlight the dire problems of the Philippine justice system, and we can never accept how the Duterte administration has further normalized this trend of weaponizing the law and the courts to criminalize dissent and activism resulting in the deaths of the most vulnerable,” she added.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.