Political prisoner holds fasting to protest illegal detention, SELDA calls for immediate release

After the hearing last July 9 in the Regional Trial Court Branch 3 in Tuguegarao City, political detainee Myrna Cruz, a former teacher and organizational development worker for peasant organizations in the Cagayan Valley Region, has yet to be released from detention.

The court has ruled for the continuous detention of Cruz pending the non-delivery of the Office of Public Prosecutor’s release order for her to the private complainant and has reset the hearing to July 16.

In protest of the inhumane judicial process she has been subjected to, Cruz held a hunger strike starting July 11 while her family and supporters conducted a candle-lighting activity in Tuguegarao City.

SELDA condemns this as a form of delaying tactics meant to keep political prisoners under illegal detention. “We are wary of the state forces’ moves to delay Myrna’s release. We warn them against mulling and acting on additional trumped up charges being concocted to keep innocent human rights defenders in jail,” said Marie Hilao Enriquez, SELDA Secretary General.

After her arrest last March 2, the court has moved for the re-investigation of Myrna’s case. The provincial Public Prosecutor’s Office released a report last June 28 that “the evidence on record is insufficient to establish a prima facie case” against Myrna Cruz, thereby recommending the dismissal of the charges of murder and her immediate release. Since March, she is being detained at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Tuguegarao City.

Cruz is among the 359 political detainees under the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, as documented by Karapatan and SELDA.
“We call on President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to release Cruz and all political prisoners. Cruz is a victim of the Oplan Bantay Laya’s counter-insurgency witch-hunt employed by the Arroyo regime against activists and individuals and organizations critical of anti-people policies. We urge PNoy to abandon this program, NOT to embark on a similar campaign and address, in a substantive manner, the root causes of the insurgency,” Enriquez concluded.###

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