“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. ###
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.
Below is the statement of Ramon Patriarca, one of the 13 detained NDF consultants, who declared to go on a hunger strike fromJuly 11 to July 22, in time for the 4th State of the Nation Address of Pres. Aquino.
Patriarca is currently detained at a military camp at the AFP Central Command Headquarters in Camp Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu.
Why I am on a 12-Day Hunger Strike (July 11-22)
In December 2010, Malacaňang announced it will review the cases of more than 200 political prisoners – most of whom were unjustly arrested for opposing the 9-year Arroyo regime-with the end-view of affecting their release.
In February 2011, the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel signed the Oslo Joint Statement with its National Democratic Front (NDF) counterparts, committing, among others, to release ‘most, if not all’ detained NDF peace consultants in order to resume in earnest the GPH-NDF formal peace negotiations.
These twin developments served to strengthen major peace documents between the government and the revolutionary movement, most especially the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) of 1998, and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) of 1995.
More importantly, these developments were a yardstick on the Aquino government’s willingness to actually fulfill GPH obligations made on the negotiating table with the NDF, and consequently, on its readiness to confront the three more difficult substantive agenda of the GPH-NDF formal peace negotiations regarding socio-economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms, and cessation of hostilities and redisposition of forces.
Halfway through his six-year term, there is no doubt that President Aquino has failed miserably in advancing the cause of a just and lasting peace in the country.
No review of the court cases of political prisoners was ever conducted. Instead, the illegal arrest, torture and detention of social activists and suspected revolutionaries were intensified, such that the number of political prisoners nationwide has almost doubled now to more than 400.
Detained NDF consultants were not released, and their ranks increased, as the Aquino government pursues its counter-revolutionary Oplan Bayanihan with more vigor. Worse, in imposing the latest termination of the GPH-NDF peace negotiations, Malacaňang made it appear that the imperative of releasing detained NDF peace consultants is nothing but a ‘precondition’ capriciously imposed by the NDF, instead of the GPH obligation that it really is.
Political prisoners and human rights advocates are therefore justified in launching various forms of protest, in coordination with other progressive groups, as President Aquino delivers his mid-term State of the Nation Address (SONA) this July 22.
RAMON M. PATRIARCA Political Prisoner AFP Central Command Headquarters Camp Lapu-lapu Cebu City July 11, 2013
“The Aquino government should refrain from sabotaging the peace process and should immediately release detained peace consultants,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said as the group staged a picket protest in front of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP). OPAPP is tasked to “oversee, coordinate and integrate the implementation of the comprehensive peace process.”
According to Palabay, the harassment, arrest and detention of peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) through trumped up charges and inclusion in the bounty list of the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) are clear violations of the Joint Agreement on Immunity and Safety Guarantees (JASIG), an agreement signed between the GPH and the NDFP in 1995,” added Palabay. JASIG was signed by both parties in February 24, 1995.
Meanwhile, detained NDFP consultant Ramon Patriarca today started a protest fast until February 26, 2013. Patriarca is currently detained at the AFP Central Command in Camp Lapu-lapu, Cebu City, where he was transferred from the Cebu Provincial Jail in Danao City. Patriarca has been in jail for four years.
Patriarca, through a statement, said the Aquino government “is effectively stalling the peace talk’s regular course, and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER). It continues to violate, with impunity, the 1998 GRP-NDF Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).” CARHRIHL is the first of the four substantive agenda lined up for discussion between the GPH and the NDFP.
Two years ago, the GPH committed to release most, if not all, peace consultants but until now, Palabay said, there are thirteen peace consultants in detention and Patriarca is being detained in a military camp instead of a civilian detention facility. Tirso “Ka Bart” Alcantara was likewise detained for almost two years in a military camp.
Karapatan also pointed out the escalating violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), with the Aquino government’s implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, has resulted to 137 victims of extrajudicial killings, 154 cases of frustrated extrajudicial killings and 498 individual victims of illegal arrests. “The continuing violations and the prevalent impunity clearly sabotage efforts for meaningful advances in the peace process,” said Palabay.
The detained peace consultants are: Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Eduardo Serrano, Edgardo Friginal, Eduardo Serrano, Leopoldo Caloza, Emeterio Antalan, Renante Gamara, Jaime Soledad, Danilo Badayos, Pedro Codaste, Alfredo Mapano and Ramon Patriarca. There are also 11 NDF consultants and staff who remain missing under the Aquino government.
“If there is any ounce of truth in the Philippine government’s statements expressing willingness to purportedly pursue peace, it should walk the talk. It should, first and foremost, facilitate the release of all thirteen peace consultants and all political prisoners,” Palabay said.
Karapatan likewise called on all candidates in the 2013 elections to stand with the people’s call for just and lasting peace and push for the release of detained NDFP consultants and all political prisoners. ###
Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831 Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580
Protest fast to press for the release of NDF consultants to the peace negotiation
Two years ago today, the Aquino government signed the OSLO- Joint Declaration with the NDF providing for, among other things, the release of -most if not all- detained to better facilitate the GPH-NDF formal peace negotiations.
Until now, the Aquino government has yet to fulfill the commitment, effectively stalling the peace talk’s regular course, and the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER).
Once again, by reneging on yet another of its many commitments, the Aquino government has ensured the prolonged fate of the GPH-NDF peace talks.
Mean while, it continues to violate with impunity the 1998 GRP-NDF Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law ( CARHRIHL), the first substantive document of the GPH- NDF peace talks.
Proof of this is its intensification of Oplan Bayanihan counter revolutionary campaign which has been steadily building up the ranks of among other human rights victims, the unjustly arrested and salvaged, already the KARAPATAN human rights group has documented no less than 430 political prisoner nationwide, of whom 148 has been arrested under the Aquino administration, 129 other activist have been extra judicially killed under this regime oplan bayanihan.
I am holding this protest fast from February 20-26, once again call on the Aquino government to fulfill its commitments it free most if not all of the detained NDF consultants as a matter of obligation relative to the GPH-NDF peace negotiations and our people’s yearning for a just and lasting peace.(Sgd) Ramon Patriarca February 19, 2013
Arrest and detention rampant under the Aquino administration
Rights group SELDA criticized the brazen impunity under the Aquino administration with the increasing number of political prisoners, continued filing of trumped up charges and the brute force inflicted upon so-called enemies of the state.
“The Aquino government may deny the existence of political prisoners but it continues on a rampage with the successive arrest of political prisoners. A total of 123 prisoners of conscience have been arrested under Noynoy Aquino’s regime. Forty-four of them were arrested in this year alone,” said Angelina Ipong, SELDA secretary general. She added that the Aquino government has also denied the release of 14 consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, who are involved in the peace talks with the Philippine government.
Political prisoner Ramon Patriarca, a consultant of the National Democratic Front, begins his hunger strike until December 10 to demand his immediate release or at the least that he should be immediately transferred to a regular civilian detention center. Patriarca is the only political prisoner who remains in a military stockade in the AFP-Central Command in Camp Lapu-lapu, Lahug, Cebu City. “We continue with our demand for their urgent release.”
In a protest action in front of Camp Crame, SELDA, together with relatives of political prisoners made big “peace cranes,” an origami artwork of the bird symbolizing their demand for justice and freedom for all political prisoners.
The human rights organization lambasted the foul schemes of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in identifying its target for arrest and detention. It highlighted the case of Rolly Panesa, a security guard who was mistaken for Benjamin Mendoza, an alleged high-ranking New People’s Army rebel. “By virtue of a mole at the back of Rolly’s neck, military soldiers insisted that they had caught a big fish. This is very dangerous for ordinary folks. A common distinguishing mark between you and a target could mean a drastic change in your life.” Ipong continued.
Rolly Panesa, together with his common-law-wife, Marites Chioco, Marites’ daughter and son-in-law were only on their way home when they were suddenly dragged into waiting vehicles on the street by armed men on October 5, 2012. “Next thing he knew, Rollywas blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten black and blue for the next three days. Now he has the burden of proving that he is not the person his military captors earned P5.6M for.” Ipong protested.
Trumped up charges have likewise continued to be employed in the arrest and detention of human rights defenders and community workers. “The filing of trumped up charges against political prisoners is a common practice of the state and it is used without let-up by the Aquino government to silence its critics, more so that the military is hungrily running after the hefty rewards of catching its targets.” Ipong declared.
The ex-detainee expressed particular concern over the recent DILG-DND memo containing the list of alleged rebel leaders with a P467-million reward for their capture. “This is a hit-list. The reward is an attractive motivation for interested individuals, especially military personnel, to produce by hook or by crook these rebels, whether or not they are really that person. Moreover, worse things could happen to targets, like being liquidated or disappeared.” Ipong declared. “These actions will definitely not help in pushing for the peace negotiations to proceed.”
“Peace is not part of the Aquino government’s agenda, as it continues to deceive the Filipino people that it is sincere in finding a solution to their economic, social, cultural, civil and political problems. Instead of releasing political prisoners, Aquino is set on arresting and detaining more of its critics with this latest act. But we will continue with our campaign to free all political prisoners,” Ipong concluded.
Political Prisoners in detention centers in Metro Manila and other regions will be staging a one-day fast today, while others will extend theirs until December 10, International Human Rights Day. ###
Reference: Angelina Ipong, SELDA secretary general 0949-9587373
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