Jonathan M. Hicap | Manila BulletinFebruary 7, 2013, 5:09pm
MANILA, Philippines — A human rights group yesterday urged the Aquino government to release sick and old political prisoners including those who are jailed at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa.
The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) said 45 of the 430 political prisoners detained in various jails in the country are sick and old and should be released for humanitarian reasons.
The group said about 30 political prisoners are serving their sentence at the NBP and 11 of them are sickly and one is aged over 60.
“Most of the time, sick political prisoners are not given the proper medical attention because of the lack of facilities in prison hospitals and lack of budget to provide health services to prisoners,” said SELDA Secretary General Angie Ipong in a statement.
Ipong cited Rolando Pañamogan, 47, who is suffering from illnesses usually associated with old age. She said Pañamogan has been admitted to the NBP hospital for a number of times due to diabetes, hyperthyroidism and asthma.
She also said the Alegre family should be freed. The family–father Jesus, mother Moreta and son Selman–were imprisoned due to a land dispute in Negros Occidental.
Jesus, 67, and Moreta, 65 are suffering from arthritis and hypertension, SELDA said.
Jesus and Selman are serving their sentence at the NBP while Moreta is at the Correctional Institute for Women. They have been in prison for eight years.
SELDA hoped that Pañamogan, the Alegre family and other political prisoners be released.
Meanwhile, with the release from detention of poet-artist Ericson Acosta, SELDA said, “we welcome the release of Acosta after two years of detention. No person should be held in detention, charged with trumped-up cases, and stripped of his rights because of his political beliefs. We demand the release of all sick and elderly political prisoners,” Ipong said. (with a report by Chito A. Chavez)