Kapatid spox: Why investigate us on ‘dehumanizing’ strip searches?

Political prisoner support group Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim slammed “harassing invitations” to her by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) about her group’s report of degrading strip and cavity searches implemented at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Lim said that while they welcome announcements of the immediate stoppage of the practice, she said she feels harassed by the two so-called invitations to an investigation issued to her by BuCor’s Intelligence and Investigation Division.

Lim revealed that the first summon is in relation to a supposed complaint by Inmate Visiting Services Unit head Evangeline Rabara who supervises the strip and cavity searches while the second is from NBP Medium Security Camp Commander Ruben Formoso.  

“’Invitations’ from security units are always alarming and even dangerous because they are not truly optional. They are in fact coercive and a form of intimidation to compel obedience yet create uncertainty and anxiety for the individual summoned,” Lim said.

Lim added that she has sought legal representation from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) on the matter.

FLAG lawyer Evelyn Dominguez already sought clarification from BuCor director Gregorio Catapang to ask if the so-called invitations “were done with his knowledge and approval,” Lim further revealed.

In a May 10 memorandum, Catapang ordered all BuCor superintendents to stop strip and cavity searches among jail visitors following revelations made by Kapatid in a press conference at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) last week.

BuCor chief Catapang’s memorandum ordering a stop to strip searches in jails.

“In view of the ongoing review of the BuCor’s Procedures and Protocols on Strip Search and Cavity Search on PDL (persons deprived of liberty) visitors, you are hereby directed to immediatelystop the conduct of such searches until further notice,” Catapang’s order reads.

READ: Political detainees’ wives reveal humiliating strip search at Bilibid

The CHR last May 8 urged the BuCor to ensure that such searches “are reasonable and carried out with the utmost respect for human dignity.”

“While we recognise the importance of maximum security inspection to ensure the safety and security of correctional facilities, it is vital that these security measures do not jeopardize visitors’ fundamental human rights. Inspections must be conducted in a way that respects the dignity, privacy, and rights of all individuals involved,” the national human rights institution said.

CHR pointed out Rules 51 and 52(1) of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, or the Mandela Rules, which state that security searches “shall not be used to harass, intimidate, or unnecessarily intrude upon a prisoner’s privacy” and that “intrusive searches shall be conducted in private and by trained staff of the same sex as the prisoner.”

It also reminded BuCor of its January 19, 2023 statement that strip and cavity searches in jails “should not be directed at the families of political prisoners.”

Lim, through FLAG, told BuCor about her reluctance to appear in the “troubling investigations” and shall instead by represented by Atty. Dominguez.

“At any rate, this matter is already the subject matter of a separate complaint lodged with the (CHR). Hence, it is no longer within the purview of your intelligence office,” she added.

Lim however said she welcomes the BuCor’s response to their complaints and hopes that the order will permanently translate into full compliance with international human rights standards that prohibit the use of strip and cavity search as a routine and regular policy measure. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Political detainees’ wives reveal humiliating strip search at Bilibid

The wives of political prisoners were subjected to “degrading and traumatic” strip search last April 21 at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), formal complaints filed at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said.

Despite pleas and assurances that they carried no illegal drugs and other contraband, NBP personnel ordered them to completely disrobe and conducted cavity search upon “orders from above,” political prisoner support group Kapatid reported.

Even senior citizens were not spared from being ordered by the NBP the Inmate Visitation Service Unit to squat and suffer the humiliation at the Maximum Security Compound, the group said.

“The humiliating experience of the wives of political prisoners need to be investigated for outright violations of international and national laws governing the treatment of prisoners and visitors and violence against women as well as for brazen harassment,” Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said.

The wives filed their complaint at the CHR last Monday, May 6.

Kapatid further revealed the wives were made to sign a waiver, a consent form allowing strip searches.

Lim however said the NBP is using the waiver as a tool of abuse and body cavity search has become the rule rather than the exception for most PDLs.

The exercise is in violation of the United Nations Standard on the Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners that intrusive searches should be undertaken “only if absolutely necessary,” Lim explained.

Driven to shame

Gloria Almonte, 64, said she was forced to sign the waiver to be allowed to see and talk to her husband, political prisoner Dionisio Almonte.

“I was nearly in tears and trembling as I lifted my t-shirt and bra, and also removed my pants and panties. I was made to squat three times and then bend over while opening my private parts to check for any hidden illegal items,” recounted Gloria.

She said the April 21 incident was the first time it happened to her during the 10 years of her husband’s political imprisonment.

“I felt shame during those moments. It felt like my dignity as a human being was being trampled upon,” Gloria recounted in her complaint.

Another wife, Maricel, 43, said she was instructed to remove her pants, t-shirt, bra and panty and made to squat 10 times, completely naked.

“After each squat, I had to bend over with both hands on my buttocks, making sure my private parts were visible while the body searcher, Serrano, looked on,” she recounted.

Maricel said she suffered extreme embarrassment because she had to repeat the procedure at least ten times.

“The searcher said I wasn’t doing it right and to do it properly next time. It was really traumatic and shameful to experience such things. For now, I am still considering whether I can visit my husband despite our longing to see him as a family. It’s like I can’t face being stripped down and searched again by the BuCor body searchers,” Maricel said.

M.C., another wife, experienced body cavity search twice, on March 31 and again on April 21, Kapatid said.

During the second time, she reiterated to the searcher that she was the wife of a political prisoner but was ignored.

Political prisoners and their families are well known in various jail facilities across the country to not to engage in illegal drugs.

 “I was very upset. It’s not right to make you squat five times and also to be searched three times as if waiting for something to come out of my body. Only animals do that. I signed the waiver against my will, otherwise I won’t be able to see my husband,” M.C. said.

Makabayan to push for Congressional investigation

Kapatid said they hope the CHR will take action as it did in January 2023 to address the complaint of the daughter of a political prisoner who was subjected to strip search at the Metro Manila District Jail Annex 4 in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City.

The CHR issued a statement at the time that “the application of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology’s search guidelines should not be arbitrary and searches should not be targeted toward the relatives of political prisoners.”

Joining the Kapatid group and the wives in filing the complaint were ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and Gabriela Women Rep. Arlene Brosas.

They said the Makabayan bloc will push “for a congressional investigation into the dehumanizing incidents when frisking could have sufficed to avoid these humiliating search procedures that are uncalled for and smack of harassment.”

Kapatid also demanded that the Bureau of Corrections and New Bilibid Prison must not retaliate in any way against the political prisoners and their families. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Pagpupugay at pasasalamat kay Rene Saguisag

By Fides Lim, Kapatid – Families and Friends of Political Prisoners

Yesterday (April 30), (former senator) Rene Saguisag, human rights lawyer, nationalist and servant of the people was laid to his final resting place beside his beloved wife Dulce. Our support organization of Kapatid – Families and Friends of Political Prisoners, and my husband Vic Ladlad and I would like to thank Rene with all our hearts for every help that he extended to us and for his legacy of nationalism, honesty, dedication and service. There is no counting his good deeds particularly for victims of human rights violations, which include the political prisoners, from the period of martial law until his last breath.

One indelible memory of Rene was when he would join us during court hearings on the “Case of the Traveling Skeletons” in RTC Branch 32 at the Manila City Hall. That case about corpses that literally sprung out of one grave in 2000 and surfaced in another graveyard in another town in Leyte six years later is straight out of the martial law dictionary of legal hocus-pocus. Vic was a political prisoner in Camp Nakar, Lucena throughout the time period of that case.

“This is martial law all over again,” Rene remarked, similar to what his contemporary Joker Arroyo (who also became a senator) said in open court. Joker, Vic’s chief counsel during his political imprisonment in martial law, was Vic’s principal witness for the Leyte case.

What particularly drew Rene’s attention were Wilma and Benito Tiamzon (reportedly top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines) during those court hearings he attended in 2016. Both had been arrested and brought to court. Rene was delighted to find out that, like him, the Tiamzons were products of the Rizal High School. I noted that Wilma and Benny were at the top 3 of their graduating batch, which I read in a Bulatlat article. Benito finished salutatorian and Wilma was the first honorable mention.

Rene was most impressed. “Ang galing! Alam mo ba, pinakamalaking high school yan sa buong mundo,” Rene said. Indeed, no mean feat in what the Guinness Book of World Records lists as the “largest secondary school in the world” until 1993 (current population: over 14,000). “Dito rin nag graduate si Uncle Jovy,” Rene proudly told us, referring to former Senator and another fierce martial law opponent whom he considers his “idol,” Jovito Salonga. (Saguisag was related to Salonga.)

Rene had his differences with the Left but he respected and admired them for their bravery and idealism, not unlike his. In one column, he wrote how he and Joker and the human rights lawyers tapped by (President) Cory Aquino to join her Cabinet after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986 moved to immediately release ALL political prisoners, overriding military objections. “The Left must have a place under the sun,” he told Vic, who was one of those released from jail.

It must have pained Rene to learn that in August 2022, his co-Rizal High alumni, Wilma and Benito, were arrested by military forces and murdered somewhere in Leyte. Their captors tried to make it appear that they were killed in a boat explosion during a military operation. But according to accounts, they were tortured first and then executed. Their lifeless bodies were dumped on a motorboat which was detonated.

In tribute to Atty. Rene Saguisag, following are statements from Vic Ladlad and from Rene himself for the Kapatid re-founding assembly. Rene’s statement is a mirror of his own life and “purity of commitment.”

Statement of Vicente P. Ladlad, MMDJ-4, Bicutan

I will always remember Rene Saguisag and will forever be grateful to him.

Atty. Saguisag did not know me personally when I was arrested during martial law on February 21, 1983. But he did not hesitate to join Joker Arroyo and Fely Aquino and other lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) in filing a petition for habeas corpus at the Supreme Court on my behalf.

It had been more than a week after my arrest (at that time) by the Southern Tagalog Philippine Constabulary, but the authorities flatly refused to even acknowledge that I was in their custody.

Upon order by the Supreme Court, the PC presented me in an en banc session. It was there that I first met Rene.

Attorneys Joker Arroyo and Rene Saguisag argued my case in that Supreme Court hearing. Consequently, my mother and lawyers were able to see me in Camp Nakar, Lucena City.

I was among the many victims of human rights violations who benefited from Rene’s human rights lawyering. Mabuhay ka Atty. Rene Saguisag. Ang iyong huwarang tapang, katapatan at dedikasyon ay ang pinakadakilang pamana mo.

Your exemplary courage, honesty and dedication to the poor and oppressed are your greatest legacy. #

Rene Saguisag to Kapatid

(On the re-founding assembly held at the CHR, June 15, 2019)

It’s tough to lose a loved one, as I did in 2007, but at least there was some kind of closure. Not so in the case of desaparecidos, where one hopes that the next shadow in, or knock on, the door is that of the missing beloved.

In the case of political detainees, I can only admire the purity of their commitment, and the reminder that they continue to be ready to give their all to the Motherland, the physical and psychological torment notwithstanding. They continue to love Her with that kind of passion that whips the blood, and hang the costs and consequences.

Keep going.

As Ted Kennedy said in 1980, “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream, shall never die.”

Here’s wishing the event every success. #

= = = = = =

About the featured photo:

Former Senator Rene Saguisag (extreme right)shares a light moment with Makabayan President Satur Ocampo and NDFP consultants Wilma Tiamzon, Benito Tiamzon, Adelberto Silva and Vicente Ladlad during a short break at the Manila RTC Branch 32 hearing on Aug. 10, 2016. Ocampo and the NDFP consultants were included in the DOJ’s terror-listing petition. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/Bulatlat)

Negros political detainees to hold another fast against rights violations

Political prisoners in Negros are set to hold another 24-hour fast on Friday, April 19, to demand thorough and impartial investigations by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on reported human rights violations since July 2022.

The families and friends of political prisoners under the Negros Occidental chapter of Kapatid (Kapisanan para sa Pagpapalaya ng mga Detinidong Pulitikal sa Pilipinas) said the fast follows CHR’s revelation last March 9 its efforts to investigate the growing number of human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the island is being stymied by the lack of cooperation by various units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Negros.

“It has been 40 days since the said constitutional body made that damning admission yet, until now, the families of victims of these heinous crimes have not been given even the barest minimum attention they deserve from the government,” Kapatid said.

Kapatid added that the investigation should include a follow through on the disappearance of political prisoner Mary Joy Enyong’s daughter Lyngrace Marturillas reported abducted with three others somewhere in Negros’ Hinigaran Highway April 19 of last year.

“It should at least be able to explain why her companion Rogelio Posadas, a National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant, was surfaced dead by the 62nd IB as a casualty in a highly-suspect encounter they claimed to have had with the NPA (New People’s Army) the following day, while the fate of Marturillas and their two habal-habal (motorcycle for-hire) drivers Renald de los Santos and Denald Malen remain in limbo,” Kapatid said.

The political prisoners previously held similar fasts in March 2022, March 2023 and last December on various human rights issues in the island.

They said the rights violations are integral to the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government’s counter-insurgency drive in the island, adding that the island has seen a sharp rise in incidents that include last year’s June 14 massacre of the Fausto peasant family in Himamaylan City.

The political detainees also cited the September 21 massacre of five New People’s Army (NPA) hors d’ combat and their tricycle driver in Kabankalan City as well as the military’s February 21 aerial bombing operation in Escalante City allegedly in pursuit of armed guerillas.

Political prisoners in Negros island number no less than 128 as of April 1, or about 16% of the country’s current total, Kapatid said.

For peace

Kapatid-Negros Occidental also said the fasting of political prisoners is meant to support the growing call for the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. government to effect the long-awaited resumption of the GRP-NDF formal peace negotiations.

The Marcos Jr. government, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Royal Norwegian Government, Third Party Facilitator to the peace process, made simultaneous announcements last year on their intention to resume negotiations. 

“The resumption of the GRP-NDF peace talks is necessary to once again bring to the national attention the necessary pro-people solutions to the fundamental problems plaguing our country, which continue to fuel the 55-year old armed rebellion of the CPP-NPA-NDFP,” Kapatid-Negros Occidental said.

The political prisoners are also calling on the Marcos Jr. government to immediately release from the National Penitentiary 75-year old NDFP peace consultant and former Negrense priest Frank Fernandez they said is suffering from various ailments and need immediate medical attention outside prison

“Fernandez, as well as other sick or elderly political prisoners like 84-year old Gerardo de la Peña (at the National Bilibid Prison), 70-year old Cleofe Lagtapon (at the National Correctional for Women), and 61-year old Corazon Javier (at the Canlaon City Jail), deserve to be released immediately on humanitarian grounds, if only to compensate – albeit partially – for their many years of unjust incarceration,” Kapatid added.

The group also revealed that two sick and elderly political prisoners have died in jail since Marcos Jr. became president. 

Marcos Villareal died last December 3 at the Camarines Sur Provincial Jail while 66-year year old Generoso Granado died at the National Bilibid Prison last March 8. 

Out of the more than 800 political detainees, at least 95 political detainees are sick while 75 are elderly, human rights groups said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Court again postpones promulgation of judgment on ailing NDFP consultant

The Taguig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) again postponed the promulgation of its decision on the case against a National Democratic Front (NDFP) peace consultant, a move a political prisoner support group said only prolongs the suffering of those wrongfully accused.

Taguig RTC Branch 266’s notice did not even include a date for the next reading of judgment against NDFP consultant Frank Fernandez, his wife Cleofe Lagtapon and their help Ge-Ann Perez, the group Kapatid said.

“This means more waiting for heaven knows when,” the group told Kodao.

Last Tuesday’s postponement was the second in as many months.

Kapatid said the day of promulgation is when the innocent is expected to regain freedom.

Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim added that weaknesses in the technicalities that courts cite for delays may also mean further violations on the rights of the wrongfully accused.

“For me, there should be penalties for every delay in the promulgation of judgments, instead of the courts offering mere apologies and early notices. There is a need to reform how the judiciary system is being managed,” Lim said in Filipino.

‘Firmly maintaining innocence’

In a public letter released before the promulgation, Fernandez said they firmly maintain their innocence against “trumped-up charges” of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

The former Roman Catholic priest and long-time NDFP-Negros Island spokesperson said that he, Lagtapon and Fernandez were seeking medical treatment for their various ailments and were not keeping firearms and explosives in the house they were staying at in Laguna province.

Fernandez, 75, suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hyponatraemia, hypertension, atherosclerotic heart disease, and hyperplasia of prostate with obstruction, among other ailments that his continued imprisonment only worsens.

Lagtapon, 70, is pre-diabetic who also suffers from COPD while their 24-year old household help Perez suffers from Hansen’s Disease.

Fernandez recounted that when they were arrested at about five o’clock in the morning of March 24, 2019, they were handcuffed, blindfolded, and taken to separate safe houses where they were subjected to psychological torture to extract information about the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

Later, they were taken to a hospital for a checkup before being taken back to their rented house where firearms, grenades, ammunition, and a white powder unexplainably were seen on a table.

Kapatid said the complaints against the three were based on “planted evidence, perjured testimonies and sham witnesses.”

In his letter, Fernandez emphasized the groundless and trumped-up character of the cases against them.

“We believe that the trove of evidence, files of testimonies and several witnesses presented by the state authorities during court hearings failed miserably to prove beyond reasonable doubt that we committed such cited alleged criminal complaints,” he wrote.

He also mentioned the inconsistencies in the politically-motivated case, saying that “what was proven nonetheless was the altered and fictitious narratives; the lying, irrational logic and inconsistent statements by PNP officers.”

Dozens of Fernandez’s fellow NDFP consultants and staff arrested before and after him also face the same police charges in various courts all over the country. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Groups ask Court to reduce Tondo 3 bail amount

P1.41 million ‘excessive’, ‘humongous’

Lawyers and human rights groups asked the court to reduce the bail amount for three Tondo activists arrested in November 2019 to allow them to spend Christmas with their respective families.

In a joint motion, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) asked Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 47 Judge Paulino Gallegos to reduce the amount by half for each of them: From ₱420,000 imposed on Reina Mae Nasino and Alma Moran to ₱210,000 each, and from ₱570,000 to ₱285,000 for Ram Carlo Bautista.

The joint motion notes that it is “within the sound discretion” of the Judge to adjust the bail amount it originally set as the 2018 New Bail Bond Guide of the National Prosecution Service are merely recommendatory to assist the courts.

The motion added the three are full-time human rights workers, “earning only what was necessary for daily sustenance,” and they come from low-income, working-class families.

“Nakakalula. Hindi namin po kakayanin yon,” appealed Nasino’s mother, Marites Asis, who accompanied the filing of the petition on Wednesday, December 14.

Judge Gallegos ordered the provisional release of the three activists last Monday, December 12, citing the failure of the prosecution to prove strong guilt against the three activists on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

The 12th Division of the Court of Appeals earlier said that the search warrant used in their arrest failed meet the standards of a valid search warrant, rendering all evidence gathered by the police raid “inadmissible.”

Political prisoner support group Kapatid said it is ironic that the poor and innocent have to stay in jail longer because they don’t have the money to pay for their freedom.

“But the rich and powerful like Imelda Marcos get a lower amount of bail though convicted for stealing 10.5 billion pesos of public funds,” Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said, citing the former First Lady’s bail amount of P411,000 upon her conviction in November 2018.

Rights group Karapatan said that while it welcome’s the Court order for the temporary release of the three activists, it found the P1.4 million cumulative amount as “excessive.”

“[T]he humongous amount being demanded by the court is tantamount to depriving them of the liberty they deserve,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“In the interest of justice, we urge the court to reduce the Tondo 3’s bail considerably and allow them to spend Christmas with their families,” Palabay added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Rights group condemns conviction of peasant organizer

By Joseph Cuevas

Political prisoners support group Kapatid condemned the conviction of a land rights advocate for rebellion.

Dionisio Almonte, long-time peasant organizer in Laguna, was sentenced to life imprisonment (10-17 years) by Branch 266 of the Taguig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) last September 16.

Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said, “The sentence amounts to cruel and unusual punishment for Almonte who has more than suffered enough because of a trumped-up case.”

Prior to his conviction by Judge Marivic C. Vitor, Lim said Almonte had already suffered eight years of imprisonment “for choosing to help the poorest yet most neglected class in society, the farmers.”

Arrested in January 2014 on murder and frustrated murder charges, Almonte is currently detained at the Metro Manila District Jail in Taguig.

A native of Laguna, Almonte is a member of PUMALAG (Peasant Alliance of Laguna) since the 1980s.

Almonte’s wife Gloria said their family was shocked and saddened about the conviction but hopes it will be overturned upon appeal.

Worsening health

Gloria added that Dioniso’s health condition has worsened while in detention, worsening his lumbar spondylosis (degeneration of disks of the vertebrae) diagnosed prior to his arrest.

He has since been diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. In 2017, he also suffered tuberculosis and has undergone isolation in prison.

Palala nang palala ang kalusugan ng asawa ko mula nang makulong siya,” Gloria said.

Gloria added that Almonte’s name was among those submitted by Kapatid to the Supreme Court for humanitarian release from crowded prisons when the coronavirus pandemic started, but was ignored.

2 farmer organizers walk free

Meanwhile, two peasant organizers in Isabela province were acquitted last October 5 by Branch 24 of the Echague RTC on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Solomon John Escopete and Danilo Estores were arrested in Jones, Isabela in April 2019, during the campaign period of the 2019 midterm elections.

Judge Michelle Gumpal-Videz said the prosecutors’ “[E]fforts (in presenting the evidence) resulted in a mediocre case that is nothing but lamentable” in acquitting the farmers. #

KAPATID: ‘Jun Lozada should be regarded as a political prisoner’

Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada Jr should be regarded as a political prisoner, human rights group Kapatid said, adding the whistleblower has done great service to the people and does not deserve to be in jail.

Kapatid said the Supreme Court’s decision finding Rodolfo and brother Orlando guilty of graft is a “travesty of justice” that sends the wrong signal to whistleblowers.

The High Court upheld Rodolfo’s graft conviction last week for leasing 6.6 hectares of idle public land to his brother Orlando and sentenced the siblings to six to 10 years of imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from public office.

Kapatid, the support group of families and friends of political prisoners, however said the Supreme Court should reverse its decision as Rodolfo deserves the protection of the law for reporting evidence of wrongdoing.

“Thanks to Jun Lozada’s courage [a] scandalous megadeal was cancelled. But because of the rotten double standard of justice in the Philippines, he is the one who will go to prison while the biggest masterminds of graft and corruption are exculpated and allowed to perpetuate themselves in public office,” Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said.

Lim added that Rodolfo has become a victim of retaliation and persecution by powerful enemies who have in effect made him a political prisoner for speaking truth to power.

Rodolfo was former head of the Philippine Forest Corporation and a government information technology consultant when he revealed alleged anomalies in the establishment of a National Broadband Network (NBN) by the Chinese corporation ZTE in 2007 during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government.

Lozada said President Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Miguel were “masterminds behind the NBN-ZTE crime” worth P17 billion of pesos. He also said former Commission on Election chairperson Benjamin Abalos stood to gain from kickbacks.

The Lozadas turned themselves in at the National Bureau of Investigation last Thursday after hearing the Sandiganbayan reportedly issued a warrant of arrest against them following Supreme Court’s affirmation of their conviction.

In a statement, Rodolfo said his enemies made good with their threats they will make him regret for his revelations.

“Yes, they succeeded in sending me to prison. But they will not succeed in making me regret my decision to side with the truth and the people. I do not regret my decision to side with the truth,” Rodolfo said.

“Our hearts go out to truth-tellers like Jun Lozada. Kapatid stands by him and with him in his statement that embodies the plight of the political prisoners in this country,” Kapatid said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Stone-throwing from inside Camp Aguinaldo mars EDSA uprising commemoration

Has Camp Aguinaldo become ungrateful of People Power? Do its current occupants, once desperate for the people’s protection, think nothing of injuring those who once protected them from a dictator’s tanks and guns?

As hundreds of people commemorated the 36th anniversary of the People Power uprising with a rally at the monument at the corner of EDSA and White Plains Avenue on Friday morning, they were pelted with stones and plastic bottles from inside the military camp.

“Mga kababayan, bago po ako magsimula, nais ko pong ibalita sa inyo na kanina pa hong may lumilipad ng bato at mga bote mula sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo papunta po rito sa ating hanay,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. announced at the start of his speech towards the end of the rally. (Compatriots, before I start, let me announce that stones and bottles flew towards us from inside Camp Aguinaldo.)

Reyes said that the police failed to let the pelting stop, adding that a Polytechnic University of the Philippines employee was hit on the head by a stone.

“Nasan po yung mga pulis? Nasan yung mga pulis? Bakit hindi nyo po maprotektahan yung mga tao laban doon sa mga nambabato [mula] sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo?” Reyes asked. (Where is the police? Where is the police? Why can’t you protect the people from those throwing from inside Camp Aguinaldo?”

Victim Vilma S. Tuno being attended by a paramedic after being hit by a stone from inside Camp Aguinaldo. (Kapatid photo)

The victim, Vilma S. Tuno said she was seated near the camp’s wall along White Plains Avenue and intently listening to the program when hit by a stone.

“Tumama sa ulo ko. Ang laki ng maga at sobrang sakit kaya na-obliga ako pumunta sa emergency room,” she told Kodao. (The stone hit my head. The swelling was huge and it was very painful. I was forced to go to the emergency room.)

Tuno was rushed to the V.R. Potenciano Hospital at EDSA-Mandaluyong where she was advised to undergo a CT Scan to check for possible effects to her previous brain surgery for epilepsy,” human rights group Kapatid said.

“This is to strongly inform the Camp Aguinaldo officials that the stone-throwing incident from inside your wall has caused physical injury. Several other rally participants were also directly hit by stones, sticks and plastic bottles,” Kapatid added in its statement.

“This kind of incident must not go unpunished. Kapatid condemns this despicable act against us who are marking #EDSA36 near the People Power Monument. We call on Camp Aguinaldo officials to investigate this incident and put a stop to all such acts.

This reporter was also hit on his torso while another stone bounced off the pavement and hit his thigh.

Journalist Lito Ocampo also complained that he was almost hit by an empty soda bottle thrown from inside the camp.

Camp Aguinaldo is the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and where the Department of National Defense is located.

It was where then defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and his cohorts holed up when they turned against then President Ferdinand Marcos.

Reyes bewailed that during the uprising, the people went to EDSA to protect the people from inside the camp from an impending full-scale military attack ordered by Marcos.

“Noong EDSA, iyong mga tao, pumunta rito sa EDSA para po protektahan yung mga nasa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo. Ngayon po, yung mga tao, nagtitipon dito sa EDSA, binabato ng mga naroroon sa loob ng Camp Aguinaldo,” Reyes complained. (During the uprising, the people went to EDSA to protect those inside Camp Aguinaldo. Now that the people commemorate the uprising, stones are being thrown at us from inside the camp.)

The police, hundreds of them, did not stir from under their tents and under the trees, even after hearing the complaint. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Love means fighting back’

Despite another fabricated case of terrorist financing charged against her and her co-accused, community journalist and political prisoner Frenchie Mae Cumpio remains steadfast and fearless behind bars.

In celebration of the month of love, KAPATID, a support organization of political prisoners in the Philippines, posted an open letter by Cumpio that she wrote after her unjust arrest two years ago. Cumpio wrote, “love means fighting back.”

“Yes, we could have had a better life like what people would say but remembering the demolition threats among several barangays in Tacloban, the land grabbing cases in Tacloban and Leyte, the illegal arrests of farmers and other activists, the strong Junk STS (socialized tuition scheme) and free education campaign, WE’D STILL MAKE THE CHOICE WE MADE YEARS AGO. Life behind bars is still better than not showing our love for this country,” Cumpio declared.

“Love means fighting back. Life behind bars is still better than not showing our love for this country.”Frenchie Mae Cumpio, Journalist & Political Prisoner