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Miradel walks free, unites with son she gave birth to under detention

After five years behind bars, Maria Miradel Torres will finally reunite with her son she gave birth to in prison.

Miradel walked out from Camp Bagong Diwa Tuesday afternoon, July 23, no longer wearing an inmate’s orange garb but an aquamarine shirt and a huge smile.

Miradel while leaving Camp Bagong Diwa yesterday. (Photo by Jose Mari Callueng/Karapatan)

She was acquitted of murder and frustrated murder charges her lawyers and supporters said are trumped up.

Miradel was four-months pregnant when she was arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on June 20, 2014.

The police and the soldiers did not present a warrant of arrest and searched the entire house without a search warrant when she was snatched.

Later, an alias warrant of arrest was presented,  issued by the court on the very day of her so-called arrest.

A Gabriela member in Mauban town, Miradel was charged with murder and frustrated murder at the Infanta Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Quezon.

Miradel denied that she was a murderer.

 “I cannot even kill a mosquito. There is no truth to the crime they are accusing me of,” she told Bulatlat.com in 2014.

When the police swooped down on her relatives’ house where she was staying, Miradel was suffering from profuse bleeding and was seeking medical treatment.

Her difficult pregnancy was exacerbated by the poor maternal and pre-natal health care inside the country’s prisons.

Miradel and her then newly-born son Payter. (Bulatlat file photo)

Miradel gave birth to her son Payter on November 17, 2014, at the Philippine General Hospital. She was only allowed to be with her child for six months, two months in the hospital and four months in jail thereafter.

Miradel’s bail petitions to allow her to take care of her infant had been repeatedly denied by the Infanta RTC.

When her infant son was taken away from her, what followed was five years of agony.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay witnessed how Miradel suffered but chose to fight her unjust imprisonment.

“We saw her pain with her difficult pregnancy while in detention, her joy when she nursed little Payter in the hospital, their heartbreaking separation when jail officials decided to disallow Payter’s stay in jail despite his need for his mother’s breastmilk and care, her parents’ unbending determination to support their daughter, and Miradel’s own resolve to fight on,” Palabay said.

Human rights worker Jose Mari Callueng visited Miradel at Bagong Diwa’s “female dormitory” several times.

“[During]…the many times I visited Miradel at the female dorm of Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, she would always talk about her son and how she looked forward to the day when she can give him countless hugs and kisses,” Callueng said.

Finally, though, Miradel is reunited with her son. But many women political prisoners, some of whom mothers with little children, still languish in jail.

“There are 545 political prisoners in the Philippines, 65 of them are women, some are mothers with little children. There are 13 couples who are political prisoners, with children and/or grandchildren longing for their immediate release,” Palabay said.

Miradel’s freedom, however, is a cause for celebration for human rights workers.

“At most times, we witness the sorrows of the families of political prisoners when their loved ones get arrested, tortured, and detained for years. It is excruciatingly painful to see how they are given the run-around by the police and military to locate their loved ones, how they have to work doubly hard to have enough money for pamasahe (fare money) to see them in jail and to bring some bread or medicine that they need, how they hear the false testimonies in court accusing these dedicated and courageous individuals of crimes they did not commit, how their loved ones are maliciously painted as common criminals and terrorists,” Palabay said.

“But there are times that we witness big smiles, hearty thank you’s, joyful tears and pleasant hellos and goodbyes. Since yesterday, we witnessed these big smiles, hearty thank you’s, joyful tears and pleasant hellos and goodbyes,” she added of Miradel’s release.

“Let us not allow another good mother or father, or son or daughter, them who fight for the rights of the people, to be separated from their families again, and suffer anguish as the state imprison them on baseless trumped-up charges,” Callueng added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Martial law victims want Imelda behind bars

Martial law victims and activists held a picket protest outside Sandiganbayan office in Quezon City to demand for the arrest warrant for Imelda Marcos following its guilty verdict against the former First Lady.

Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) welcomed the conviction and asked the court to immediately put Marcos behind bars.

The group also reacted to the statement of PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde that Imelda might not be arrested because of her age and health conditions.

Albayalde’s statement did not surprise the martial law human rights victims since the Rodrigo Duterte government has been giving the Marcos family special treatment, SELDA said.

SELDA added that Sandiganbayan’s guilty verdict is a landmark decision that should be upheld.

SELDA called on the Sandiganbayan to stand by tits decision and not be cowed by the Marcoses’ alliance with Duterte. # (Report by Joseph Cuevas / Video by Carlo Francisco / Featured Image by Jinky Mendoza-Aguilar)

Martial Law victims call for distribution of remaining compensation funds

Victims of human rights violations under Ferdinand Marcos’ Martial Law called on government to extend the validity of reparation funds set to expire on August 11.

The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) said that not all legitimate victims have been given reparation from funds sequestered from the late dictator’s stolen wealth.

The martial law compensation board is still in possession of tens of millions of undistributed funds which it has to return to the National Treasury on Saturday, (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

 

Political prisoners go on fast, call for release and end to criminalization of political acts

Countdown to International Human Rights Day

Political prisoners go on fast, call for release and end to criminalization of political acts

Political prisoners in the Philippines launched a seven-day fast today, as members of the International League of  People’s Struggle (ILPS) commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. The fast will last until December 10, International Human Rights Day.

Close to a hundred political prisoners in different jails in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao announced participation to the fast to call for their release and as a gesture of solidarity to various people’s protest actions leading to December 10.

Those fasting are political prisoners in various detention centers in Metro Manila, at the Special Intensive Care Area-Metro Manila District Jail (SICA-MMDJ) and Taguig City Jail-Female Dorm in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City; New Bilibid Prisons-Maximum Security Compound in Muntinlupa City; and PNP Custodial Center in Quezon City.

In the provinces, fasting political prisoners are those detained in the following jails: Aurora Provincial Jail in Southern Tagalog; Ormoc City Jail, Tacloban City Jail, and Dancalan Provincial Jail in Bobon, Northern Samar and Bohol Detention and Rehabilitation Center in the Visayas; and in Valencia City Jail, Malaybalay City Jail, Gingoog City Jail, Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in Misamis Oriental, and Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao. Jailed peace consultants of the National Democratic Front are also joining the fast.

Some political prisoners will also hold noise barrages and hanging of streamers as protest. These activities culminate on Human Rights Day, “as their way of highlighting the government’s practice of criminalizing political actions and filing trumped up charges against those perceived as ‘enemies of the state’,” said Jigs Clamor, SELDA national coordinator.

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As support to the political prisoners, various progressive organizations led by Karapatan and SELDA held picket actions today at the Manila Regional Trial Court and at the Department of Justice.

The protesters first went to the Manila Regional Trial Court for the hearing of the multiple murder case against peace consultants Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, Randall Echanis, Raphael Baylosis, Vicente Ladlad, and Makabayan Coalition Chair Satur Ocampo.  The case is considered the “mother” of all trumped-up charges implicating Ocampo et al in a supposed mass grave found in Monterico Village, Baybay Leyte. All those accused in the case, except the Tiamzon couple are on conditional bail.

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Joined in by Manilakbayan from Mindanao and Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, the protesters marched to the Justice Department. “This department cannot simply say they cannot do anything on these trumped up cases lodged against political prisoners,” Clamor said. “The military weaves stories with prosecutors so they can arrest and detain people who are actively defending their rights and their communities,” he added.

As of November 2014, there are 491 political prisoners, 220 of them were arrested under the BS Aquino regime. There are 43 female political prisoners, 53 are ailing, 42 are elderly, and six are minors.

“The political prisoners are not the enemy of Filipino people. The plunderers and those who perpetuate human rights violations, killings, disappearances, torture and harassment are those who should be jailed. We need the political prisoners back in the streets and in the communities to continue their selfless work and advocacies. They should be immediately released,” he concluded. ###

 

Manila, December 3, 2014