Political prisoner Ramon Patriarca held incommunicado in a military camp should be immediately released

Karapatan, through its chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, today called for the release of political prisoner Ramon Patriarca as she echoed Patriarca’s appeal for an immediate transfer to a civilian detention facility from the AFP Central Command Headquarters, Camp Lapulapu, Cebu City.
Patriarca, a human rights defender and a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has been in solitary confinement for two years now. He is the only political prisoner who is in a military detention facility. “I wonder why the Commission on Human Rights is not doing anything on this. It looks like it is tolerating this practice,” Hilao-Enriquez said. .

In a letter of appeal addressed to Cebu governor Hilario Davide III, Patriarca said he wanted to be transferred back to Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) asserting, " there is absolutely no justification for political prisoners like myself to be detained in a military facility. Specific provisions of the Local Government Code and the BJMP Act support the sound and fair practice of holding all inmates, regardless of the charges they face, only in civilian-run detention centers." Patriarca is denied of even his sunning rights.

Hilao-Enriquez also asked the Department of Justice for a “review of the cases of political prisoners especially as we have, as of August 2013, 449 PP's with 48 sick and 28 elderly detainees and 35 women political prisoners.”

Detained at the Danao City Jail from 2009 to 2011, Patriarca helped in the legal cases of a number of inmates and set up literacy classes in prison. He organized fellow prisoners to demand for better prison conditions. Patriarca's initiatives led to a raise in prisoners' food allowance from P50 to P80 per inmate, per day. “Apparently, Patriarca's actions did not sit well with then Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, sister of Byron Garcia, a security consultant at the CPDRC, and the military,” said Hilao-Enriquez.  

On Jan. 25, 2012, after Patriarca's court hearing, his jail guards did not bring him back to Danao City Jail but, instead brought him to CPDRC where he was locked in an isolation cell for several days until he was brought to the AFP Central Command headquarters in Camp Lapulapu, Cebu City.  

Patriarca also demanded to be removed from solitary confinement saying, "there is no basis for political prisoners like myself to be put in solitary confinement and separated without due process from fellow inmates, merely for being charged with political offenses.”
“Neither the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, nor Part III of the 1998 GRP-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAR-HR-IHL), nor Part I of the 1955 United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, support the pre-emptive and abusive practice of solitary confinement, as in my case," he added. 

Karapatan supports the urgent appeal of Patriarca saying, “this is a clear case of violation of his rights as a detained person under the Republic Act 3478." 

Patriarca's defense lawyer has filed a motion to dismiss the rebellion case as the so-called witness—a rebel returnee who remains in custody of the military - himself said that Patriarca “was not present during the incident in question, nor part of its planning.” Patriarca on the other hand filed a case of Anti-Torture Act against his arresting officers.

Patriarca was arrested without a warrant on February 5, 2009 for rebellion. He was tortured and held incommunicado after he was abducted by elements of the 78th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the provincial police in Consolacion, Cebu. Patriarca testified in court that he was kicked and punched, subjected to “water cure” and other forms of physical and mental torture. A doctor who examined Patriarca at that time, said he had acute stress disorder secondary to physical and psychological trauma. 

Despite years of isolation and inhumane imprisonment, Patriarca remains steadfast in his principles. Last September 21, he held a hunger strike to express his support for the people's movement against pork barrel system. It was the fifth hunger strike since he was transferred to the AFP headquarters. ###