Relatives and human rights groups led by the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights marched to Mendiola in Manila, December 3, to commemorate International Solidarity Day for Political Prisoners and call for the release of all political detainees.
Karapatan said that political prisoners are proof of an unjust system as well as double standards in which “rule of law” inevitably translates to the rule of rulers.
Recent cases of illegal arrests by the police and military’s continued use of planted evidence, twisted ploys, and ridiculous narratives to jail rights activists and progressive leaders of organizations and communities [are rampant},” Karapatan added.
Karapatan said that there are 540 political prisoners all over the country as of November 2018, 203 of whom were arrested under the Duterte regime.
One hundred forty of the detainees are sickly, 40 are elderly and 56 are women, Karapatan said.
Lengua De Guzman, daughter of National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and wife of union organizer Maoj Maga, said that since November 2017 when Duterte implemented a crackdown against activists and peace consultants, fabricated cases and planting of evidences became the usual pattern of the state forces in their operations.
Aside from cases involving her father and husband, similar incidents happened to government employees organizers like Bob Reyes, the couple Oliver and Rowena Rosales, trade union organizer Ireneo Atadero, women advocate Hedda Calderon and peace consultants Adelberto Silva and Vicente Ladlad, de guzman said.
Karapatan reiterated that political prisoners should be immediately released on just and humanitarian grounds and as a matter of justice.
The Duterte government must also resume peace negotiations with the NDFP and stop the track of militarism against the people, the group said. # (Report and video by Joseph Cuevas)