Group of ex-political prisoners SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) condemned the court’s decision to grant bail to former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“Pres. Aquino was right, the Philippines is not a joke. Indeed, it’s not a joke to allow electoral saboteurs to be freed, while political dissenters are the ones imprisoned,” SELDA secretary general Angelina Ipong said.
Ipong said that the Aquino government doesn’t the nerve to push through with charges against Arroyo, saying it has always been “a lip service” when it comes to holding the former president accountable.
“This government has no real sense of justice. It cannot even arrest Palparan. Worse, it cannot own up to its own human rights record. In fact, Malacañang has to deny on the existence of political prisoners to claim it is a defender of human rights,” Ipong said.
The group successfully ended the week-long fasting and hunger strike of political prisoners in the country. Almost 700 prisoners nationwide participated in the fasting and hunger strike from July 16-23, and ended on the day of Pres. Aquino’s State of the Nation Address.
Leading the hunger strike and fasting are political prisoners from the Special Intesive Care Area (SICA) at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, National Bilibid Prisons Muntinlupa, Camp Crame, Manila City Jail, Nueva Ecija Provincial Jail, Isabela Provincial Jail, and Aurora Provincial Jail.
In the Visayas, inmates in Calbayog Sub-Provincial Jail, Iloilo City Jail, Danao City Jail in Cebu led the strike. Artist Ericson Acosta, who continuously face charges of illegal possession of explosives, lambasted Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda’s statement that there are no political prisoners as “a highly ingenious and studies performance which, for all its supposed terseness and indifference, still managed to come across as a perversely powerful warning – that as a matter of state principle, political dissenters shall invariably treated in no other context except in relation to common, even heinous crimes.”
“The unabated incidence over the last couple of years of government critics, activists, and revolutionaries being arbitrarily arrested or abducted, tortured and slapped with fantastic non-bailable criminal charges, attest to how seriously such policy of political persecution has so far been put to actual practice by the present dispensation,” Acosta said in a statement.
Solidarity fasting activities in Danao City Jail, where political prisoner Ramon Patriarca was previously detained. Patriarca is now at the Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu, where he continues to protest his illegal detention in the stockade of the AFP-Central Command.
Outside the jails, activists who participated in the solidarity fast in Iloilo City wore the orange prison uniform and acted like political detainees in a make-shift prison jail along Plazoleta Gay in Iloilo City.
In Mindanao, inmates simultaneously held noise barrages alongside their hunger strike, to dramatize their protest, including the Compostela Valley Provincial Rehabilitation Center, Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail, Agusan Sur Provincial Jail.
Ipong said that particularly in Compostela Valley, more than 500 inmates who participated in the hunger strike are non-political prisoners who supported the plight of the political prisoners for their freedom.
“We thank the non-political prisoners who participated in the hunger strike, believing that political prisoners should not be in jail because of their political beliefs,” Ipong said.
SELDA criticized Pres. Aquino of his silence on the plight of the political prisoners or human rights in his SONA, saying that the government is blatantly covering up the existence of political prisoners.
“He has the gall to tell the nation that he is a victim of Martial Law, but repeats the same fault of criminalizing political dissent. That could only mean that Malacañang is really sweeping under the carper the issue of political prisoners,” said Ipong.
The blatant disregard on the plight of political prisoners will not, however, tire them to continue with the call for freedom.
We shall continue to demand for their freedom, and jail those who wronged the people,” Ipong ended. ###
Reference: Angelina Ipong, SELDA secretary general 0949-9587373