GABRIELA Philippines: Free political prisoners, jail Arroyo

Mindanao Examiner / June 28, 2010

A Filipino women’s group called GABRIELA urged President-elect Benigno Simeon Aquino III to free all political prisoners and prosecute outgoing leader Gloria Arroyo for her alleged crimes. Activists trooped to Aquino’s residence in Quezon City where they presented their demands.

“Aquino used as his campaign platform the promise that he will go after Arroyo and her minions, that justice will not be compromised and it will be served to the people. We take him to task on that promise, and like the rest of the country we expect no less from him,” said Joms Salvador, the group’s Deputy Secretary-General.

GABRIELA cited that there are 61 women out of the 344 political prisoners under the Arroyo administration. “These women political prisoners suffered from the hands of their captors and many of them were sexually abused. They are also in a most detrimental condition where they are continually made vulnerable to all forms of harassment, be these sexual, physical or emotional,” Salvador said.

Recently, Myrna Abraham, a teacher by profession, was abducted allegedly by state agents and is now incarcerated in a jail in Tuguegarao town in Cagayan Valley in northern Philippines.

Like fellow political prisoner Angie Ipong held by the police in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur in Mindanao, Abraham, including other women held in various jails, face numerous charges the state fabricated against her, GABRIELA said.

“For opposing and actively criticizing Arroyo’s anti-people policies and politics, these dissenters were trumped up with charges fit for common criminals. Political prisoners are Arroyo’s victims,” Salvador said.

“If Aquino would be truthful to his promise of leading the people to ‘daang matuwid’, he should jail the culprit and free the innocents. He should work for Arroyo’s imprisonment and free women and all political prisoners,” Salvador added.

GABRIELA also went on to tell Aquino that if there is one legacy of her mother and the late president Corazon Aquino that he ought to follow, it is the granting of freedom for all political prisoners.

“Martial law robbed the people of their democratic rights and granting freedom to political prisoners was the late president’s gesture of restoring them. Arroyo’s regime is no different with its bloody record of victimizing the people, so it is only imperative that Aquino do the restoration as well,” Salvador said.

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