Karapatan calls on Pres. Duterte to remove imprints of martial law, release political prisoners

“The existence of political prisoners in a so-called democratic country proves that imprints of martial law are still here,” Jigs Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary general said on the 44th year since late Ferdinand Marcos’s declaration of martial law. 

Karapatan said there were at least 120,000 persons imprisoned during martial law, many are victims of warrantless and illegal arrests because of their political beliefs. To date, there are 525 political prisoners, as of June 30 2016, languishing in jails all over the country. 

According to Clamor, throughout the years, US-dictated counter-insurgency programs only changed in name, but all resulted to gross human and people’s rights violations. 

“The next presidents later invented common crimes against political dissenters to hide the political nature of their cases,” Clamor said. 

“Instead of facing political offenses, activists and critics of the government are slapped with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, murder or kidnapping, among other crimes. Leaders of legal mass organizations and development workers providing services to the most marginalized sectors are also arrested for charges of murder and frustrated murder, like Amelia Pond, a teacher/researcher of self-help schools for Lumad children,” Clamor said. 

“The root causes of massive unrest of the Filipinos during the martial law – the corruption of public funds, repression, extreme poverty stemming from landlessness and joblessness, and neocolonial relations with the US  - are the same cause that still drives Filipinos to rebel and change the system. Marcos, as a response, declared martial law to cling on to power. The Filipino people will not let it happen once more,” Clamor said. 

“The challenge for Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is to remove the imprints of martial law by addressing the long-standing and deeply-rooted concerns of the Filipino people such as poverty, lack of social services, corruption in the bureaucracy, US plunder and intervention in the country, release of political prisoners and the halt to the policy and practice of filing trumped up criminal charges against political dissenters, among many others,” Clamor ended.###