Pinning their high hopes on the successful operation of one political prisoner today, rights group SELDA said that “best prescription” the Aquino government can give is to free political prisoners who suffer from serious ailments.
Ramon Argente, 53, a peasant organizer from Bicol, is scheduled for a triple bypass surgery today at the Philippine Heart Center. As of this writing, his family and SELDA are still asking for help to complete the huge amount needed for operation expenses.
“It is with extreme disappointment that the family is raising the needed amount whereas, by all means, these should be shouldered by the state. The amount of money cannot even be compared to what the government is spending to take care of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and multi-billion scammer Janet Lim-Napoles. We pay for every single centavo to save lives of plunderers and wrongdoers, while we let those wrongly accused die from crimes they did not even commit. This is injustice at the very core,” Clamor said.
Argente is one of the 48 ailing political prisoners that need proper and immediate medical attention, according to SELDA.
“By deliberately denying proper medical treatment on ailing political detainees, the Aquino government is like putting them on death row,” said Clamor.
Argente, along with union organizers Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, were charged with several and varying counts of murder, theft and frustrated murder before the Regional Trial Court Branch 64 in Labo, Camarines Norte. A total of 32 individuals were included in the said charges, where four have been arrested including Vegas, Camposano and Argente.
“Argente, among other political prisoners, has not been even proven guilty of the trumped-up charges filed against them. His rights, along with his co-accused have been violated since day one of arrest. They were arrested without warrant, held incommunicado for days after their arrest, and denied of counsel – all of which are violations to their right to due process, liberty and security,” Clamor said.
SELDA previously announced the death of a political prisoner, Alison Alcantara, who died last month due to diabetes complications.
“We are enraged at the double standard treatment of inmates under the Aquino administration. Political prisoners who are victims of false and trumped-up charges are treated like dirt in prison facilities. While, according to them, those who skimmed government funds with the collaborations of certain high government officials are given with the most elaborate security, high food allowances, air-conditioned rooms, regular monitoring of medical status, easy communication with the outside world, liberal visiting procedures, among other privileges. Surely, this is how the government treats one of its own – in a crook’s prison haven, while political prisoners rot in like hell prison holes.” SELDA national coordinator Jigs Clamor said.
Clamor added that by continuously denying them to be treated immediately and properly given medical care, the government is endangering more lives of political prisoners. According to SELDA, ailing political prisoners are more vulnerable inside prison.
SELDA is calling on the release of all sick and elderly political prisoners on humanitarian grounds, including those who have served a long time in prison. They are also demanding that higher budget be allotted for services provided to the people, including better healthcare for prisoners and the people. ###
Reference: Jigs Clamor, SELDA National Coordinator, 0917-5965859