NDFP consultant, political prisoner Ramon Patriarca holds hunger strike

Ramon PatriarcaPolitical prisoner Ramon Patriarca today started holding a hunger strike to call for the release of all political prisoners and as a symbolic gesture to keep the people’s vigilance alive in the fight against pork barrel and all its forms. 

“The Supreme Court’s decision abolishing PDAF is, at most, a partial victory which political hocus-pocus can circumvent at will.  Vigilance is thus necessary to thwart attempts to its resurrection.  The same vigilance is required to hold accountable and punish everyone involved in this scam,” said Patriarca, who is a consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) to the peace negotiations with the government of the Philippines. 

“In the meantime, the fight against presidential pork (i.e., DAP and other accountability-proof funds) continues.  It addresses the very heart of fiscal impunity in government, and need to be resolved soon in favor of the people’s needs and aspirations,” he added. Patriarca is the only political prisoner who is detained in a military facility at the AFP Central Command Headquarters-Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu City.

He said, “The fight is still on for a truly democratic allocation and disposition of public funds that would satisfy the poor majority’s clamor for better education, health, housing and other basic social services.” 

Patriarca’s hunger strike will last up to December 10, the commemoration of the International Human Rights Day.  Political prisoners, he said, “being the reform activists and social revolutionaries that they are, have to contribute their voices for this collective effort to further advance the fight against the pork barrel system.”

The plight of political prisoners 

Patriarca emphasized that “the country’s justice system and prison network is one such area where adequate reforms are important.  After all, the lack of trial courts, judges and court personnel do subvert the basic constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial.  And, jails are, without doubt, generally congested, food-poor and substandard   in terms of basic services, in negation of their supposed rehabilitative character.“

He called on the BS Aquino government to immediately release the 499 political prisoners, specifically the “48 detainees who are ailing and 28 others who are elderly,” citing Ramon Argente, who recently underwent a triple heart by-pass operation; Vanessa de los Reyes and Alvin Langlang, both paralyzed from the waist down; and 68-year-old Jesus Alegre and his 66-year-old wife Moreta.  

“The dismal condition of the justice system and jail network should serve to strengthen ongoing call for their immediate release on humanitarian grounds,” he said. “They need not suffer the fate of their fellow political prisoners Intong Amirol and Alison Alcantara who recently died in detention due to old age and serious ailments.”

“It is therefore imperative for political prisoners to continue launching various activities that support the broad movement against the pork barrel system and serve their overall struggle for freedom,” he ended.