Release all political prisoners, especially sick and elderly prisoners

A day before the resumption of the second round of formal talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) peace panels, the Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) renewed its call to immediately release all political prisoner (PP) through general amnesty, especially the ailing and elderly political prisoners, PPs detained for more than a decade and women political prisoners.
 
 
"Their continuing incarceration is grave injustice not only to the political prisoners but to their families as well. They have suffered long enough because of fabricated cases filed against them. It is about time that they walk free,” Fr. Dionito Cabillas, spokesperson of SELDA said referring to the 504 political prisoners in the Philippines, as documented by human rights group Karapatan as of August 31, 2016. 


"Out of 504 political prisoners, 415 are those detained in relation with the CPP-NPA-NDF armed rebellion. 148 of them should be immediately released based on humanitarian grounds. They are the sick, elderly, women and PP detained for more than ten years," Fr. Cabillas said. 


Fr. Cabillas cited the situation of Maria Miradel Torres, a political prisoner at the Taguig City Jail, who had to wean her then six-month old son from breastfeeding prematurely because she was not allowed to be with him. At the same time, the courts kept denying motions for bail despite questionable and malicious military testimonies against her. 
 
“Three family members were convicted for trumped up murder charges for fighting for a land they own being landgrabbed by a landlord-politico,” Fr. Cabillas said. Moreta Alegre, 69, is detained at the Correctional Institute for Women while husband Jesus, 70, and son Selman, 40, are detained at the New Bilibid Prison. They have been detained for more than eleven years now. 
 
“Ramon Argente, now 56 years old, suffered from a heart attack and has a slight heart enlargement. He was preparing for a heart bypass in February 18, 2013 when he was arrested and faced trumped up charges of kidnapping, arson, murder and frustrated murder,” FR. Cabillas said. His health worsened in detention at the Camarines Norte Provincial Jail. He needed oxygen supplement every day and had difficulty breathing with chest pains. In 2015, he was brought to the Philippine Heart Center  from prison where he had a heart triple bypass surgery. He had to stay longer at the Intensive Care Unit because he had pneumonia. 

He was brought back to the Camarines Norte Provincial Jail, and still has difficulty in breathing and chest pains. 

According to SELDA, the Duterte government should adhere to and implement the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which both the Duterte government and the NDFP agreed to reaffirm during the first round of talks in Oslo last August. “In the first place, the arrest and the continued detention of these political prisoners are clear violation of the CARHRIHL, so they should therefore be released,” Cabillas ended.###
 

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free all political prisoners