InterAksyon.com | July 15, 2012
MANILA, Philippines – Saying ‘peace is still a prisoner’ two years after President Aquino assumed office, detainees from various jails announced they will start a week-long fast on Monday to push for a general and unconditional amnesty and release of political prisoners.
A statement sent to media offices by the human-rights group Karapatan counted 363 political prisoners in cells nationwide, including 10 in the Northern Mindanao region, where two detainees in Bukidnon were expected to join the fast. They are Pedro Heyrana Codaste and Randy Hebia.
“We at Malaybalay City Jail join the call to free all political prisoners nationwide through a General, Unconditional and Omnibus Amnesty Proclamation,” said a press statement issued Sunday.
“This July 16 to 23, 2012 we add our voices in joining the resounding calls of political prisoners in prisons and detention centers nationwide: Free ALL Political Prisoners through a General, Unconditional and Omnibus Amnesty Proclamation!” said the statement.
The statement wondered aloud why the Aquino administration, which came to power on a platform of democracy and human rights, cannot release its political prisoners, when perceptibly harsher regimes have done so. It cited as examples Israel’s release of “its more than a thousand Palestinian political prisoners,” and Burma’s release of 659 political detainees.
The detainees took issue with the brand “enemy of the state,” saying, “it is wrong, very very wrong to align us revolutionaries on the same place with common criminals for what we seek is to ensure that the political status of our country be free from any foreign interference and domination.”
It urged President Aquino “to listen to the stinging criticism of his administration’s dismal performance by the Universal Periodic Review, a mechanism established by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, in prosecuting human rights abusers.”
According to a backgrounder from Karapatan, Codaste is 60 years old, married with children. “He was arrested on December 17, 2010 (Aquino’s time) even with a JASIG-protected portfolio as NDFP Consultant. He hails from Fili, Bayugan, Agusan del Sur and is presently incarcerated at Malaybalay Provincial Jail. He has been slapped with fabricated criminal charges of two counts of murder and two counts of frustrated murder.” He suffers from hypertension and related sickness.