“From within prison walls, political prisoners are not unaware of the people’s rage against bureaucratic corruption,” said Ramon Patriarca, detained peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
In a statement sent to Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) Patriarca cited President Aquino’s pork, and ” how billions more of the Malampaya and other presidential pork are pocketed through ghost projects. Of how billions upon billions of annual budget under Malacanang are ‘spent’-bereft of any transparency and the demands of accountability-under the cloak of presidential discretion and presumption of regularity.”
Patriarca also scored the corruption of jail officials saying “our daily food budget is subjected to as much as 60% commission when there are not enough funds to solve overly-cramped jail conditions. Nor for the medical and other basic services deserved by inmates rendered weak and sickly by deplorable jail situation. Nor to fill up vacant trial courts and create new ones to ensure our right to speedy trial.”
Of the 449 political prisoners in the country, Patriarca is the only remaining political prisoner detained in a military camp, at the AFP Central Command in Lapu-Lapu City. He is in solitary confinement for three years now.
At the Special Intesive Care Area-Camp Bagong Diwa, political prisoner’s denounced those in Malacanang, Congress and Senate and their minions saying “while they luxuriously feast and wallow in what can be squeezed from the sweat and blood of the already impoverished people, all the more and without conscience do they make the poor people go through suffering and oppression.”
“These big criminal thieves, and not only Napoles, should be the ones imprisoned, and not we political prisoners who they are victimizing, gagging, depriving of liberty and applying fascism against, because of our advocacies and efforts to arouse, organize and mobilize the people in the struggle for freedom, justice, rights, progress and to uplift the lives and dignity of the broad masses of the people,” SICA political prisoners said.
Break free from pork: nationwide protest of political prisoners to abolish pork
The September 19 break free from pork activities of political prisoners was a success, according to SELDA.
Political prisoners at the New Bilibid Prison held a 3-minute noise barrage. They also mounted streamers with slogans, “abolish pork barrel system! free all political prisoners!” They were able to gain the support of the other convicted prisoners, especially the Moro prisoners and even some guards.
Patriarca is on a 48-hour fasting, which started on February19-21, as a protest against the pork barrel system, for the non-operationalization of the RA 10368 (Marcos Victims Compensation Act), the arrest and detention of the Hacienda Luisita 11, and the death of a fellow political prisoner Allison Alcantara.
Other detainees in Metro Manila, Bicol, Bohol, Cebu, Misamis Oriental, and Bukidnon also held similar actions such as noise barrage, fasting, wearing of armbands with “no to pork barrel” slogan, and distribution of leaflets on the pork barrel issue among inmates. ###
Political prisoner Alison Alcantara, 55, died of multiple organ failure, on Sept. 18 after he fell into coma and was rushed to the Philippine General Hospital from the New Bilibid Prison on Sept. 9.
“Alcantara’s death reflects the difference between how the Aquino government treats the political prisoners –those who were imprisoned because they sided with the oppressed and exploited poor Filipinos—and those who plundered the nation’s coffers and enriched themselves using the entire government bureaucracy,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Alcantara was diagnosed with severe sepsis due to pneumonia and diabetes type 2. On Sept. 4, Alcantara was rushed to the emergency room of the New Bilibid Prisons hospital when his blood sugar and blood pressure rose. He had been going in and out of the New Bilibid Prisons hospital due to uncontrolled diabetes with complications of hypertension, and an infected wound on the left foot.
The persistent request of the Alcantara’s family and the Samahan ng Ex-detainees laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) to immediately transfer Alcantara to PGH, and to eventually release him on humanitarian grounds, was rejected by the Bureau of Corrections. BuCor insisted they can manage Alcantara’s illness.
“We can’t help but compare the ‘special’ care and kindness Malacañang extended to Janet Napoles and with how it treats the political prisoners. While Napoles has her own doctor who regularly monitors her blood pressure and sugar level, the 48 political prisoners who have long been suffering from illnesses receive inadequate and insufficient medical attention, leading to such cases as Alcantara,” Palabay said.
Political prisoners today issued a statement to highlight their situation, saying “while Napoles is in a bungalow at Fort Sto. Domingo, political prisoners, are crammed in a small cell, with 500 other inmates; while Napoles eats ham, egg, and fuits for breakfast, sinigang na bangus for lunch, and pinakbet for dinner on a Php150 daily food budget, political prisoners make do with one cup of lugaw for breakfast, one cup of rice and dried fish for lunch, and boiled fish for dinner on a PhP50 a day budget.”
As of August 30, 2013, Karapatan has documented 449 political prisoners in the country today; 154 of them were arrested and detained under the Aquino government, mostly on trumped up criminal charges.
Break free from pork
Also today, the political prisoners, held various forms of protest actions in various jails in solidarity with the Filipino people’s call to abolish the pork barrel system, and to rechannel public funds to services that can be accessed directly by the most needy sectors of society.
Political prisoners’ action ranged from noise barrage, fasting, wearing of armbands with “no to pork barrel” slogan, distribution of leaflets among inmates.
Detained NDFP consultants at Camp Crame launched VIP (Victims of Injustice and Plunder) Prisoners’ Protest PORKsong Revival Fest and PORKsters vs. Corruption Contest to give venue to the creativity of political prisoners to express their experiences and aspirations for freedom from detention and, for freedom of the Filipino people from exploitation and oppression.
In support of the detainees’ action, Karapatan and Selda put up a booth at Plaza Miranda where people may sign the petition to abolish pork, and to highlight the plight of the 449 political prisoners all over the country.
Peace is dead.
In a picket at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), rights groups and family members of the peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) depicted the situation with a replica of white doves locked in 13 plastic jars. The 13 doves, the protesters said, also symbolize the jailed 13 NDFP peace consultants.
“Amid the military siege in Zamboanga City; the series of killings, bombings of communities, illegal arrest and detention of innocent civilians, the Aquino government is on a rampage. Whether the government is still interested in pursuing the road to peace remains to be seen. For our part, as human rights advocates, we will never tire in calling for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP. This is one of the options we have to undertake to resolve the root causes of un-peace in the country,” said Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez.
In June of this year, the Aquino government, through its peace panel head Atty. Alex Padilla, unilaterally ended the peace talks with the NDFP.
“The insincerity of the Aquino government in the peace negotiations has long been bared when it continues to disregard previously signed agreements such as the Hague Declaration that serves as the framework of the peace negotiations between the two parties; and its non-compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG),” added Hilao-Enriquez.
“The GPH not only refused to release the 12 NDFP peace consultants but, instead arrested Ma. Loida Magpatoc, a JASIG-protected person, on July 28, 2013. The Aquino regime refused to acknowledge the documents and agreements signed by the previous representatives of the GPH in the peace talks,” Hilao-Enriquez said.
With Magpatoc’s arrest, there are now 13 NDFP peace consultants who are detained in various jails all over the country because of trumped up criminal charges. Common crime charges slapped against these NDFP consultants and personnel as well as other political prisoners effectively hide the political nature of the cases and the government continues to fool the public declaring no political prisoners are being kept by the present dispensation; hence it cannot be accused of political persecution against political dissent. There are also 10 NDFP consultants and staff who were victims of enforced disappearance and who remain missing to date.
Hilao-Enriquez said, “worse, instead of honoring the agreements the GPH signed with the NDFP, the government resorts to an order of battle(OB) list of so-called ‘wanted communists’ and a reward system for so-called informers who can lead to their capture amounting to PhP466 million of people’s money. This is the latest ‘one-time, big-time’ organized racket of the DILG and the DND. As if the pork barrel scam is not enough scam,” said Hilao-Enriquez.
The protesters ended their program with a call to release the 13 peace consultants, surface the 10 disappeared, and release all political prisoners.
Break free from pork
On September 19, political prisoners, including the 13 NDFP consultants, will add their voices to the call to abolish the pork barrel system, punish the guilty in the pork barrel scam, and rechannel the pork funds for the benefit of the people.
Dubbed, “Break free from pork”, the political prisoners will hold various forms of protest actions inside their jails. Rights groups and peace advocates will hold a counterpart activity at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo starting at 10 a.m. Both activities also aim to underscore the plight of the 449 political detainees in the country, and to highlight the call for their release, especially the women, the sick and the elderly among them.