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.