When will they be freed?

IT’S really disgusting to hear that our leaders have been praising Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for having inspired the cause of freedom when back home, they continue to ignore the plight of hundreds of political detainees.

Let’s put it on record that there are still hundreds of detained political dissenters who are being treated as ordinary criminals. That was the only excuse of government, which denies there are political prisoners since those detained dissenters were being tried for various criminal offenses.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colminares cited the case of 43 health workers who had been under detention since their arrest on Feb. 6 on suspicions that they are communist insurgents.

The militant lawmaker said that the immediate and unconditional release of the so-called “Morong 43” and all political prisoners “will be a gesture of justice and goodwill in the interest of attaining an atmosphere conducive to the peace process as well as a confidence-building measure for the resumption of the talks.”

Never mind the peace process. It isn’t bound to succeed in the near future. It’s not in the priority list of the hawks in government.

But our own leader, the PNoy,  while welcoming the release of Suu Kyi is  demanding from the military junta the release of all other  prisoners who remain incarcerated in the jails of Myanmar, which was the name given by its rulers in Burma since it imposed martial rule.

Take it from Mr. Aquino who has known how it was to suffer from political repression, just like all the political prisoners who continue to languish in jail.

There are talks that some lawmakers are negotiating for the release of the Morong 43 on Dec.10 when the Philippines join the world in commemorating the International Human Rights Day.

But that will only provide government with additional “pogi points” and not really end a regime of unlawful arrests.

I don’t deny that I have close friends who continue to be detained because they were deemed to be radical dissenters in a society which proudly claims to champion democracy since it was restored by a people power revolt in 1986.

Let me cite the case of Randy Malayao, a political activist who was tapped as a consultant by the National Democratic Front (NDF) in its failed talks with the government. Randy continues to languish in jail despite being acquitted on trumped-up murder cases.

His military captors slapped him with new murder charges just to stop him from posting bail.

Like hundreds of jailed dissenters, Randy is being denied his basic rights. He continues to languish in Isabela jail, mingling with other common criminals.

We should stop talking about freedom and democracy, when we can’t even recognize political prisoners from the ordinary criminals.

The only thing that differentiates Randy from another political activist by the name of Jonas Burgos was the latter is still missing after burly men who shed their military uniforms abducted him three years ago.

For that Randy and other political prisoners, are still fortunate under this so-called democratic regime.

At least, they are clapped in jail.

As to those who are still missing, their whereabouts are unknown and their condition still a big question mark for their relatives, friends and colleagues.

Government has not come clean on the matter of the disappeared. It is hypocritical for the Palace to be so genuinely concerned with Aung San Suu Kyi when it cannot even compel the military to reveal its file  on those who are neither dead or alive. Joel Paredes


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