Free old, ailing political prisoners, Aquino urged | Inquirer News

Free old, ailing political prisoners, Aquino urged

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 11:33 AM January 12, 2016

A human rights group has urged President Benigno Aquino III to release all ailing and elderly political prisoners before he steps down from office in June 2016.

“We call on [Aquino] to release based on humanitarian grounds all the ailing and elderly political prisoners before his term ends,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Palabay said it is hard “to live in cramped and unventilated cells for years,” citing the condition of 82 political prisoners who are ill.


On January 8, political detainee Eduardo Serrano, who was acquitted by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) in 2015, died at the Philippine Heart Center while in prison.


READ: Acquitted of murder, political detainee Serrano dies in prison

Serrano was arrested in 2004 for allegedly leading the ambush of military personnel in 2003 under the name of Rogelio Villanueva.

Serrano, who spent 11 years in jail, was acquitted by the QCRTC after government prosecutors failed to prove the he and Villanueva are one and the same person.

“Imprisonment based on trumped-up criminal charges combined with the inhuman jail condition and the slow grind of the justice system caused political prisoner Eduardo Serrano’s death,” Palabay said.

She said Serrano should have “walked out of jail a free man a long time ago had the [Aquino] government fulfilled its commitment to release most, if not all political prisoners.”

Serrano is a peace consultant between the communist National Democratic Front (NDF) and the government.


Karapatan also urged Aquino for the “immediate release on humanitarian grounds” of Adelberto Silva, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, Ramon Argente, Concha Araneta-Bocala, and Alex Birondo.

The political detainees mentioned, Palabay said, are experiencing various ailments.

Palabay said 68-year-old Silva had undergone “quadruple angioplasty” before he was arrested

“We don’t want another Eduardo Serrano, Benny Barid, Alison Alcantara or Crisanto Fat who all died while in prison,” she said.

In 2014, Karapatan said another political detainee Benny Barid died of chronic asthmatic bronchitis with emphysema at the New Bilibid Prisons Hospital while Alison Alcantara died of pneumonia, sepsis and fatal arrhythmia in 2013.

The human rights group said peasant leader Crisanto Fat died of heart enlargement. The group claimed that he was handcuffed in a hospital bed when he died in 2011.

The human rights group said political prisoners will hold a hunger strike and other protest actions on January 12 to 17 “as an expression of indignation to the grave injustice done to Serrano.” CDG

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READ: DOJ urged to drop cases vs political prisoner with baby

TAGS: group, Human rights

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