Political prisoners (PPs), kin ask Norwegian Minister: press for amnesty, PPs release

Political prisoners from Caloocan City Jail, (CCJ) Emmanuel Bacarra, Billy S. Morado, and Felimon S. Tuba wrote a letter to Norway’s Foreign Minister Borge Brende as the latter is scheduled for a country visit starting today, November 22, to November 25. 

T@g 'Em!T@g 'Em! T@g 'Em! T@g 'Em! T@g 'Em!

“We would again seek your help to remind President Rodrigo R. Duterte, through its negotiating panel in the peace negotiations, to honor their commitment to release all political prisoners as expressed in the Oslo Joint Statements of June 15, 2016, August 26, 2016 and October 9, 2016,” CCJ political prisoners said. "There were only 19 political prisoners released – contrary to the claims of the GRP panel that it has released 71,” CCJ political prisoners said, referring to peace consultants released to directly participate in the formal peace talks. 

“Other political prisoners were released by way of legal battles in courts and campaigns, and not because of formal peace negotiations,” the CCJ political prisoners said in their letter. Last October 20, three political prisoners in Camp Bagong Diwa, Hermogenes Reyes Jr., 28, Jared Morales, 26, and Marissa Espedido, 26, were released on bail on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. 

“Two of us here - Emmanuel M. Bacarra and Billy S. Morado - are both hypertensive, while Emmanuel is diabetic. We are appealing for your help not just for our health, but first and foremost, because we are innocent of the charges,” the three said in their letter.

The Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) has been the Third Party Facilitator in the negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for years. “Then and now, you (RNG) have been pulling all strings just to extend your undying commitment to the peace process between the GRP and the NDFP,” said the CCJ political prisoners in praise. 

Recently, Karapatan has launched a social media activity called “T@g ‘Em!” wherein relatives of political prisoners, former political prisoners and other supporters have their photos taken with signs, “Free all Filipino political prisoners” and “Free the defenders” with hashtags #AmnestyNow, #FreeAll and #PoliticalPrisonersPH. This is to call the attention of RNG Foreign Minister Borge Brende to take up the issue of political prisoners with the GRP’s negotiating panel. Tagged in this campaign are @borgebrende@bebotbello or GRP Chief Negotiator Silvestre Bello, @peacegovph and @karapatan

This was after a similar letter was sent to Foreign Minister Brende by Gloria Almonte, wife of a political prisoner Dionisio Almonte. Dionisio is currently confined at the Philippine General Hospital for treatment of several of his ailments, including problems in his prostate, hypertension, diabetes, and slip disc. Dionisio is one of the 130 political prisoners who are sickly. Mrs. Almonte calls for her husband’s immediate release based on humanitarian grounds.