Karapatan calls on GRP to fulfill obligation, commitment to release all political prisoners

“We reiterate our call to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines to fulfill its commitment and obligation to release ALL political prisoners through general amnesty,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said, as the second round of peacetalks between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) starts today, October 6, 2016 in Oslo, Norway.
"As the peacetalks move forward, we remind the GRP of its commitment to fully adhere to and implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) by releasing all political prisoners,” Palabay said.
"The CARHRIHL also upholds the Hernandez political offense doctrine, which disallows the filing of criminal charges that are to be subsumed under the single charge/political offense of rebellion. Therefore, all political prisoners unjustly charged with common crimes by previous GRP regimes should be released," she asserted.
"Not only should they be reunited with their families, but the political prisoners’ release should also enable them to return to their work as activists and continue serving the marginalized sectors. This will encourage substantial discussions on basic reforms,” Palabay said.
"The practice of filing trumped-up criminal charges against activists, majority are working on peasants' concerns and struggles, should stop," Palabay said. All of the 504 political prisoners in the country (as of August 31, 2016) are facing trumped up criminal charges, filed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines using false witnesses, defective warrants and planted evidence, among other schemes.
“We hope that the release of political prisoners will not be used as a trade card by the GRP for any ceasefire agreement or final peace agreement, but as a fulfillment of its commitment to pursue a just and lasting peace,” Palabay said.
"Pursuing peace is rendering justice. Just and lasting peace means upholding the right to dignity of all the members of the society, especially the marginalized and impoverished majority and not just the few. There is no dignity if the majority, while poor and hungry, have no right to practice their political beliefs and are imprisoned because of it,” Palabay concluded.