Political prisoners across the country lament Ocasla’s passing, set to mount hunger strike and fast to demand immediate release

Political prisoners from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), Taguig City Jail, Samar Provincial Jail, Compostela Valley Provincial Rehabilitation Center (CVPRC), and Davao Penal Colony (DAPECOL) are all mourning for the death of fellow political prisoner Bernabe Ocasla, who died last November 28, 2016 after three days in coma. 
As they express their grief on Ocasla’s death, political prisoners from different jails across the country reiterated that “this is but the continuing of political repression and the perpetration of injustice.” 

“Mariin naming kinokondena ang mapait na katapusan ng kanyang pagginhawa pagka't siya ay nakakulong, pinagkaitan ng kalayaan sa salang mahalin ang sariling bayan,” said the sixteen (16) political detainees in the Samar Provincial Jail. Thirty-eight (38) political prisoners from the Davao Penal Colony, plus the more than 500 common offenders detained in the same facility, added that news about Ocasla’s passing has ‘added to their pain,’ while those in the NBP, all 20 political prisoners and 24 ordinary inmates, expressed that Ocasla’s detention, which lasted for almost a decade, is “a reflection of a slow, inefficient and unfair justice system under a reactionary State.”

Thirty-four political prisoners at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City recalled Eduardo ‘Ka Eddik’ Serrano, an NDFP consultant who passed away in January 2016 after 11 years in prison. Political detainees asked the government: “Ilang buhay pa ba ng political prisoners ang kailangan para magising ang gubyerno sa mga ipinahayag nito na pagpapalaya gayundin ang kaseryosohan sa pagtataguyod ng usapang pangkapayapaan?”  

The political prisoners also called on the Duterte administration “to prove its sincerity in the peacetalks, amid reports of militarization and continuing violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).”  

Political prisoners in DAPECOL urged the GRP panel “not to use them as bargaining chips to have the NDFP sign a bilateral agreement.” 

“Political prisoners are not tools for negotiation but lives ‘who have offered their all to empower others from poverty – not just for themselves, but for the entire country,’ said detainees from the Samar Provincial Jail. 

Amelia Pond, a 64-year old political prisoner in the CVPRC who is now in the Southern Philippines Medical Center after an operation on her lumbar spine, further added that her arrest, and the continued detention of many other political prisoners, is ‘a big disregard to the efforts to alleviate the conditions of the poorest.’ They reiterate that they are, after all, teachers, community organizers, health workers, relief workers, leaders and members of local organizations, who have worked for the interest of the marginalized sectors in the country.”

Political prisoners reminded the government that “this corrupt and unjust system will inevitably breed more political prisoners.” Detainees from the Samar Provincial Jail expressed that a government’s true character is seen through the way it treats its political prisoner: ‘Mas mahuhusgahan nang husto ang tunay na kalagayan ng isang lipunan kung sisilipin ang kanyang paraan sa pagtrato sa kanyang mga detenido pulitikal. Sana'y ito na ang huli. Sana'y ito na ang magsilbing hudyat upang tayong lahat ay mamulat sa tunay na kalagayan ng ating bayan.’ 

Political detainees hope that “Ocasla’s death will be a wake-up call and a catalyst towards GRP’s realization of their urgent and dismal conditions.”###