Nov3:PNOY’S ARROGANCE IN RESUMING PEACETALKS, A STUMBLING BLOCK TO RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS — SELDA
November 3, 2010
Former political prisoners today criticized Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s refusal to meet with representatives of negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as an “act of arrogance,” one that is standing in the way for the release of political prisoners, including consultants and staff of the NDFP.
The Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), an organization of former political prisoners, said the proposal for a courtesy call of NDFP Panel Chairperson Luis Jalandoni and panel member Coni Ledesma to Aquino is a gesture of goodwill for the resumption of the peacetalks between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). SELDA expects that among the pertinent points before and during the resumption of the negotiations will include the release of the 388 political prisoners, including at least 11 NDFP peacetalks consultants, who are still languishing in jails and detention centers nationwide due to trumped up charges against them.
“While NDFP has shown goodwill and seriousness in pursuing just and lasting peace, Pres. Aquino’s rebuff of this effort and his non-committal stance on the release of political prisoners, despite mounting calls for their immediate release, is an act of conceit. It undermines the efforts of church workers, peace advocates and human rights organizations for the resumption of the peacetalks between the NDFP and the GRP. It is indicative of the continued injustice being inflicted on the political prisoners,” Cabillas stated.
SELDA reiterated its call for Aquino to pursue the peacetalks and, especially in the light of Aquino’s declarations on the release of the 400 military rebels, to release all political prisoners, including the following NDFP peace consultants, who are detained the respective detention centers and jail facilities:
Angelina Bisuña Ipong – Provincial Jail, Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental
Alfredo Mapano – Provincial Jail, Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental
Jaime Soledad – Leyte Provincial Jail, Tacloban City
Glicerio Pernia- Albay Provincial Jail, Legaspi City
Eduardo Serrano – PNP Custodial Center, Camp Crame, Quezon City
Eduardo Sarmiento – PNP Custodial Center, Camp Crame, Quezon City
Jovencio Balweg – PNP Custodial Center, Camp Crame, Quezon City
Efren Dela Lamon – Bulacan Provincial Jail, Malolos City
Emerito Antalan – Cabanatuan Provincial Jail, Cabanatuan City
Leopoldo Caloza – Cabanatuan Provincial Jail, Cabanatuan City
Randy Malayao – BJMP Ilagan, Isabela
“They were abducted, illegally arrested, tortured and charged with fabricated criminal charges. Their cases constitute violations on the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Hernandez doctrine, which all state that so-called ‘political offenses’ or the exercise of political beliefs should not be criminalized. Their constitutional rights to due process and against torture are severely trampled upon. They should be immediately released in the interest of justice and lasting peace,” Cabillas ended.
19 October 2010
Letter to the Editor
Dear editors of the Philippine Daily Inquirer,
We extend our gratitude to and commend the Philippine Daily Inquirer for your editorial dated October 17, entitled “Free.” Being firm and standing up for the immediate release of Morong 43 is brave enough to inspire us and our families. You have looked into our plight and condition, even though we are not as prominent and media-exposed as the Magdalo soldiers. You have grasped our situation, sentiments and concerns, though we have been “hidden away from the public.”
Eight months in detention was never easy for us. We still bear the pain and suffering since the day we were illegally arrested. For 36 hours (48 hours for some), we were handcuffed, blindfolded and tortured, physically and psychologically. These experiences of human rights violations can never be forgotten. As health workers who voluntarily gave service even to far-flung communities, we helped in providing health care services to our poor countrymen. Yet the past administration’s desperation to produce “captured NPAs” had victimized us and thousands of other individuals and families critical to former Pres. Arroyo’s anti-people policies.
As we are heading for our ninth month in detention, we appeal to the Aquino administration to be truthful and sincere in giving justice to the Morong 43 and all political prisoners. To rectify the errors should mean freeing us unconditionally and immediately. We also call on our senators and congressmen to uphold justice and call for our release. In our struggle to be free, we aks for the continued support in all forms of the different media organizations, local and international human rights organizations, churchpeople and people in the communities. Your genuine concern to our hardships and suffering proves to be our armor in continuing this fight for freedom and justice.
Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan Taguig
October 14, 2010
In the light of Malacanang’s amnesty to rebel soldiers by virtue of Proclamation No. 50, the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), an organization of former political prisoners, today aired their demand for the release of all 378 political prisoners in the country, saying this is a political decision which should be exercised by the President, as much as the amnesty for the rebel soldiers is a political act.
“While we welcome the intent for the freedom of the rebel soldiers, we are adamant in demanding for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. They do not need amnesty, since almost all of them were charged with trumped-up and fabricated common crimes while they were persecuted for their principled opposition to various anti-people policies. They are demanding for their freedom,” Fr. Dionito Cabillas, SELDA Secretary General, said.
Cabillas cited the case of the forty three health workers who were illegally arrested, tortured and detained since February 6, 2010, among the several cases of political prisoners.
“There has been no let-up in the international community’s appeals and demand for the release of the Morong 43. Pres. Aquino should now decisively make a political act by releasing the Morong 43,” Cabillas added.
According to data from Karapatan and SELDA, under the Arroyo government, there were 2,425 victims of arbitrary arrests, 1,092 of them were tortured. Among these cases are that of political prisoners Myrna Cruz and Randy Malayao, both detained in the Cagayan Valley Region. Cruz, a former teacher and a consultant of peasant organizations, was illegally arrested last March 2010 and has remained incarcerated at the Tugeugarao City Jail, despite state prosecutors’ orders for the dismissal of murder charges and her release. Malayao, a consultant of the negotiating panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF), was acquitted from murder charges filed against him for the killing of former Cagayan governor Col. Rodolfo Aquinaldo and his aide, but he remains detained at the Ilagan City Jail in Isabela.
“Both Cruz and Malayao have suffered unjustly for crimes they did not commit, and yet no attention has been given for their eventual release,” Cabillas said.
SELDA also called for the withdrawal of fabricated charges against activists and leaders of progressive organizations such as former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and NDFP consultants Vicente Ladlad, Rafael Baylosis, and Randall Echanis.
“These charges, which have been consistently proven false, are pure harassment and persecution of Ocampo, Ladlad, Baylosis, Echanis and others, for their political beliefs. The continuing spate of trumped-up charges against human rights workers in Negros, Bicol and Mindanao indicates that these practices continue,” Cabillas ended. #
Sept29: SELDA WELCOMES PNOY DIRECTIVE FOR REVIEW OF MORONG 43, URGES IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF MORONG 43 AND OTHER POLITICAL PRISONERS
September 29, 2010
A group of former political prisoners, Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), today welcomed the directive of Pres. Benigno Aquino III to Justice Sec. Leila de Lima for the review of the case of the forty three health workers, collectively known as the Morong 43, who were illegally arrested last February 6, 2010.
“The directive is a welcomed move. It is high time for Pres. Aquino to give due attention to the plight of the Morong 43 who are on their almost eighth month of detention. Their arrest was based on a defective warrant, they were subjected to torture, and they are being illegally detained. We emphasize the urgency of the review as well as their immediate release, for every day of detention is an added injustice and violation of their rights,” Fr. Dionito Cabillas, SELDA Secretary General said.
The 43 health workers are among the 388 political prisoners who still languishing in jail despite the illegality of their arrests. Three hundred sixty one were arrested and detained during the Arroyo administration.
SELDA said the review of the case of the Morong 43 should be followed by the subsequent review of all the cases of political prisoners. SELDA cited the case of Myrna Cruz, a former teacher and consultant of peasant organizations in Cagayan Valley, who was illegally arrested last March 2010. Cruz is still under detention despite provincial state prosecutors’ orders to release her and to dismiss charges against her.
“The cases of Morong 43, Cruz and other political prisoners are emblematic of the continuing human rights violations perpetuated through the Arroyo government’s Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program. Addressing these issues, including the withdrawal of Oplan Bantay Laya, should be Aquino’s top priority ,” Cabillas ended.