Philippines: Release of all political prisoners sought

2 August 2010

MANILA — In the light of the release of former Marine Col. Ariel Querubin, the  Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya (Selda), the  organization of former political detainees, urged anew the Aquino administration to release of the 402 political prisoners still languishing in jails nationwide.

Querubin is one of the military officers arrested four years ago in connection with a supposed attempt to overthrow former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Marie Hilao Enriquez, Selda secretary general and Karapatan chairperson, said,  but it is just to release Col. Querubin as well as the other victims of illegal arrest and arbitrary detention during the past administrations.

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 Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, Selda and Karapatan, the alliance of human rights organizations, received reports about another victim of illegal arrest and detention.

Dario Tomada, 51, former chairperson of SAGUPA Eastern Visayas, an alliance of  various peasant organizations in the region, was arrested July 23, in Laguna.   Tomada is co-accused in the alleged mass killing of members of the Communist  Party of the Philippines in Inopacan, Leyte in 1985. Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo was arrested and detained in 2007 on the same 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 see him only on 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,”  Enriquez said. Enriquez also urged the government to stop the practice of  political persecution of political dissenters and criminalizing political dissent. (PINOYPRESS.NET)

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