After Robin’s pardon, political prisoners should be next

“After granting absolute pardon to actor Robin Padilla, we hope Pres. Rodrigo Duterte will do the same to wrongly convicted political prisoners (PPs) especially those who are ailing, elderly and the women,” Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Jigs Clamor said. 

Robin Padilla pardoned by Duterte 

“Releasing them will give partial justice to those arrested, detained and convicted based on false charges,” added Clamor. According to Karapatan’s documentation, as of October 31, 2016, out of the 482 political prisoners in the Philippines, 33 are women, 130 are sickly, and 37 are elderly. At least 103 of them have been detained for more than 10 years. 

Clamor cited Gerardo dela Peña, 76, a martial law victim and human rights worker from Camarines Sur, who was quickly convicted in 2014 for trumped-up murder charges after he testified in court only once. “With the lack of medical facilities and inhumane living conditions at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) - Maximum Security where dela Peña is currently detained, his ailments brought by old age become more unbearable. He is suffering from hypertension and could barely hear anything,” Clamor said. 

“It is a great insult, that while the late dictator and human rights violator Ferdinand Marcos will be honored as a hero, Dela Peña and other political prisoners – the real heroes of the nation – are suffering inside jails,” Clamor said. 

The Alegre family – couple Jesus (70) and Moreta (69), and son Selman (40) – would have wanted to be together this Christmas season even for a simple “salo-salo” with the rest of their family in Negros Occidental. “But they are in jail for fighting for a piece of land that is rightfully theirs,” Clamor said.  Moreta, detained at the Correctional Institute for Women, has hypertensive cardiovascular disease. She feels constant chest pains and suffers from hypertension. She said she misses their home near the sea. 

Detained at the NBP with his father, Selman missed out the prime of his youth for spending most of it in prison. He was forced to leave his wife and kids and has not seen them since their arrest on January 8, 2007. 

“Now, Mr. Robin Padilla can be with his wife and newborn child in the United States. We hope the political prisoners can also come home and be with their families. We urge President Duterte to have a heart and get the political prisoners out of this grave injustice. Release all political prisoners, including the sick, elderly, women and those detained for many years,” Clamor concluded.