Letter of Appeal to Pres. Aquino for the Release of Myrna Cruz
22 July 2010
H.E. BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III
Republic of the Philippines
Dear President Aquino,
Greetings of peace!
We are former political detainees, families and supporters of political prisoners and their advocacies. We wrote to bring to your urgent attention the status of Ms. Myrna Cruz, a former teacher and organization development worker for peasant organizations in Cagayan Valley, as one of the 359 political prisoners in the country.
Ms. Cruz was illegally arrested last March 22, 2010 on fabricated charges of murder and violations of the gun ban during the election period. As family, friends and supporters of Ms. Cruz, we condemn these charges as pure hogwash to intimidate and persecute her. The continued detention of Ms. Cruz, even as Cagayan’s Public Prosecutors’ office recommended the dismissal of the charges and her immediate release, is form of harassment against innocent civilians and activists. For 14 days now, Ms. Cruz has been on hunger strike to protest the various forms of delaying tactics that were employed to hinder her release from prison.
Ms. Cruz is among the political prisoners unjustly languishing in jail for alleged crimes that they did not commit. Many activists like her who are working for the advocacies of the marginalized and largely unrepresented sectors were unfortunately perceived by the government of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as enemies of her administration. This is the reason why false charges were concocted to justify her arrest and detention.
Human rights organizations and United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston attribute these illegal arrests, detention, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings to Oplan Bantay Laya, the counter-insurgency blueprint of the Arroyo government, which has been used to legitimize the targeting of civilians who express dissent to government policies and actions that are detrimental to the interests and welfare of the people. This strategy makes no distinction between armed insurgents and civilians who exercise their right to express their opinions and who organize and assemble to articulate their grievances and dissent.
Thus, we are appealing to you, as a President who has witnessed the brutal realities of political prisoners as it was Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr.’s experience too, to facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of Ms. Cruz and all political prisoners in the country. We likewise call for the immediate scrapping of Oplan Bantay Laya and that all victims of impunity under the Arroyo government be brought to justice.
Thank you very much and we are hoping for your favorable response.
(sgd) GEM ABRAHAM (sgd) REP. JOEL MAGLUNSOD
Daughter of Myrna Cruz Anakpawis
(sgd) FR. DIONITO CABILLAS (sgd) ROBERT MEDRANO
Selda Alliance of Concerned Teachers
(sgd) GERTRUDES LIBANG