Amid support for the GRP-NDFP peace talks, Canadians press for release of all political prisoners in PH

As they expressed their support for the continuation of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, more than 200 Canadian trade unions, churches, ecumenical organizations, solidarity and human rights organizations, academics, journalists and individuals in Canada also called for the release of all political prisoners in the Philippines. 

“The release of all political prisoners is an issue of justice. We appeal to President Duterte to protect the right of his country’s citizens to speak and act on their political beliefs. We urge him to rectify the injustice committed against those who are imprisoned for exercising their right by releasing all political prisoners now,” they stated in an open letter addressed to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. The said letter from Canadians for Just Peace in the Philippines, an international platform which supports the Philippine peace process, was sent to Duterte on April 4, 2017, during the fourth round of GRP-NDFP peacetalks in The Netherlands.  

The Canadians for Just Peace in the Philippines also called on Duterte to specifically release the three (3) consultants of the NDFP who remain in detention as a confidence building measure, as well as to immediately release 130 ailing political prisoners on humanitarian grounds. 

“It is our firm belief that the release of all political prisoners is a critical step to achieve success in the peace talks,” they stated. 

Meanwhile, Karapatan said “any and all means to release all political prisoners are welcome, but the GRP should be constantly reminded that every day that passes with them in jail, while their numbers continue to increase with the recent illegal arrests and detention of political activists, is another day of injustice against them.”

In the GRP-NDFP Joint Statement signed on April 6, 2017, the GRP reported that nineteen (19) political prisoners, including three NDFP consultants, have been recommended for conditional pardon to the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance or Pardon (PCBREP). The GRP also said that it will assist in the release of two (2) consultants recently arrested, while both parties committed to continue to explore all expeditious and acceptable modes for the release of the rest of the prisoners. 

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that “the general and unconditional amnesty of all political prisoners remains as the most expeditious mode of release of political prisoners.”

“Duterte should be reminded that only the warmongers in his military and moronic legislators like Antonio Trillanes, Panfilo Lacson and Magdalo men oppose the release of political prisoners. They have no credibility to speak on matters of justice, hence lending your ear to these peace saboteurs will amount to nothing but unpeace,” Palabay concluded.