In the light of Col. Querubin’s release, SELDA calls for release of all political prisoners

The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya (SELDA), the organization of former political detainees, welcomes the release of former Marine Col. Ariel Querubin, one of the military officers who were arrested four years ago in connection with a supposed attempt to overthrow Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, while the organization urges the release of the four hundred two ( 402) political prisoners still languishing in jails nationwide.

Marie Hilao Enriquez, SELDA Secretary General, said, it is but just to release Col. Querubin, as well as the other victims of illegal arrest and arbitrary detention during the past administrations. Political prisoners, whom the government has charged with fabricated common criminal cases, are worse off because most of them suffered torture and inhumane treatment during their arrest.

Enriquez cited the Morong 43, the community health workers and doctors who were illegally arrested last February 6, 2010 and are still currently detained at Camps Bagong Diwa and Capinpin; the case of Myrna Cruz, a former teacher and a consultant of farmer organizations in Cagayan; the case of Angie Bisuña-Ipong, the 60-year old lay leader who was abducted and missing for two weeks in March 2005, before she was surfaced in the Pagadian City Jail and is still incarcerated; as well as those of hundreds of others in other jails in the country.
Over the weekend, before Pres. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, SELDA and Karapatan, the alliance of human rights organizations, got reports on another victim of illegal arrest and detention.

Dario Tomada, 51 years old and the former chairperson of SAGUPA Eastern Visayas, an alliance of various peasant organizations in the region, was arrested last Friday, July 23, in Laguna. Tomada is said to have been among those charged in the supposed mass killing of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Inopacan, Leyte in 1985, together with Rep. Satur Ocampo. Ocampo was arrested and detained in 2007 on this charge but was freed after filing a petition at the Supreme Court.

Enriquez said the charges against Tomada and Ocampo were fabricated cases against leaders of organizations of marginalized sectors. Tomada is now being detained at Camp Karingal. His family, members of SELDA and Karapatan and supporters have been allowed to visit him only last Tuesday, July 27.

“The Supreme Court has ruled in 2007 that the regional trial court proceedings should be suspended based on the petition of those being charged elucidating their innocence on the said case. Hence, Tomada should be immediately released,” she concluded. Enriquez also urges the government to stop the practice of political persecution of political dissenters and criminalizing political dissent. ###

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