Political prisoners launch fasting

THE coordinated fasting of the political prisoners all over the country entered into the second day Friday to press their call to the Aquino administration for the release of all political prisoners.

The fasting coincide with the  start of the ongoing formal peacetalks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)in Oslo,Norway.

Political detainees in Cebu and Bohol — Ramon Patriarca, Alberto Acerdin, Florencio Quino — started their week-long fasting on 15 February 2011, subsisting only on water and 5 biscuits a day until 21 February. In a statement released by the detainees, through their fasting, they are issuing a call to President Benigno Aquino III to:1) Order Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to immediately draft the necessary mechanisms to review all cases being faced by the 350 political prisoners still languishing in the various detention facilities all over the country. 2) Instruct the negotiating panel of the Government of the Philippines (GPH), now in Oslo Norway resuming its formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front (NDF) to uphold the validity of past GPH-NDF signed agreements including those made in 2001, 2004, and 2009 urging the immediate release of scores of political prisoners based on legal grounds and humanitarian considerations.

Political prisoners in Camp Crame in Quezon City, Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan (including the three detained healthworkers from the Morong 43), New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, Bacolod, Iloilo, Butuan City, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Ozamis City joined their colleagues in Cebu and Bohol in a solidarity fast today.

Recently arrested NDFP consultant Alan Jazmines, who is being detained at Camp Crame, joins NDFP consultants Eduardo Sarmiento, Jovencio Balweg and Eduardo Serrano in their solidarity fast today at Camp Crame. In their statement, they called on the Pres. Aquino “to stop the illegal arrest and detention and the filing of false charges, most of them criminal in nature, against consultants, leaders, and members of the revolutionary movement.” (please see their attached statement below)

Myrna Cruz, spokesperson of the LAYA Campaign to Free All Political Prisoners and a recently released political prisoner from Cagayan Valley, said the arrest of Jazmines is the most recent example of such practice of the military and police in conducting illegal arrests and detention of JASIG-protected personnel and consultants of the NDFP. Cruz said there was no warrant of arrest presented to Jazmines when he was arrested last February 14, 2011. Upon scrutiny of the order of arrest given to Jazmines’ lawyer the next day, the certified true photocopy of the warrants against Jazmines were only given by the regional trial courts in Quezon on February 15, 2011.

Cruz also recalled the numerous trumped up charges against NDFP consultants Vicente Ladlad, Randall Echanis and Raffy Baylosis, as these are similar baseless accusations being leveled against them. Cruz, who was arrested last March 2010 and was released this December, was herself a victim of illegal arrest and detention and fabricated charges under the Arroyo government.

Cruz called on President Noynoy Aquino to follow her mother’s example and free all political prisoners, as well as see to the withdrawal of charges against them.

“Like his mother the late Cory Aquino immediately and unconditionally freed all political prisoners on March 1986, so too must President Noynoy Aquino. In releasing the political prisoners, Mrs. Aquino acknowledged that their arrest and detention was arbitrary and therefore illegal, and that the cases against them were nothing but trumped-up charges brandished by a fascist state against those that dare oppose it. The same holds true about Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s regime and Aquino should act accordingly,” Cruz said.-D’Jay Lazaro

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