Karapatan supports fasting of political prisoners and kin

Karapatan welcomes news on President Duterte’s pardon of political prisoners Rico Bodino (Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm), Dindo Absalon and Bonifacio Suyom (Leyte Regional Prison), and Martin Villanueva (New Bilibid Prison) to facilitate their long-overdue release from jails. Since 2011, their names have been submitted to the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon (PCBREP) and recommended to former Pres. BS Aquino, who didn’t act on their release.
We hope that the rest of the 400 political prisoners will not suffer the fate of the four, who had to wait for government action for many years to see the day when they can be with their families again, nor that of deceased political prisoner Bernabe Ocasla, who died on November 28 due to cardiac arrest, after nine years at the Manila City Jail. They deserve justice, not callousness or unfulfilled promises by a legal system that has deliberately violated and failed them.
We reiterate and emphasize that political prisoners were wrongly convicted and accused of trumped up criminal charges, in line with the systematic suppression of dissent and people’s civil and political rights through counter-insurgency programs of governments, even after the Marcos dictatorship. In fact, many of them were arrested during the governments of Corazon Aquino and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, while the majority, at least 296, were illegally arrested during BS Aquino regime. Hence, political prisoners are pernicious imprints of martial law; their existence is stark proof that gross violations of people’s rights continue to this day.
Political prisoners are not criminals; they are persecuted because of their defense of people’s rights and pursuit of genuine social change. They fight for genuine agrarian reform, decent jobs and living wages, free education and health services, decent and accessible housing. They uphold national sovereignty and patrimony, through their staunch resistance to imperialism and all forms of reaction.
Karapatan joins the political prisoners and their families today, as they start to fast to press Duterte for the immediate release of all 400 political prisoners in the Philippines. Karapatan stands in solidarity with all political prisoners, detained human rights defenders and peoples across the globe today, the International Day of Solidarity for Political Prisoners of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS), as we pledge to continue the struggle for a just and lasting peace.###