Urgent Appeal: Denounce repressive measures of jail authorities against hunger-striking political prisoners

Dear friends,

All 491 political prisoners in detention centers all over the Philippines are on hunger strike and fast to express their urgent plea for freedom, justice and human rights. The hunger strike also coincides with the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines, as the political prisoners seek the kind intercession of the Pope for their release.

While majority of the political prisoners started the hunger strike on January 15, political prisoners at the Special Intensive Care Area 1 (SICA) of the Metro Manila District Jail at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City began on January 10, five days before the scheduled arrival of the Pope.  

Sadly, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), through the Jail Superintendent Michelle Ng-Bonto, imposed repressive measures against the political prisoners at SICA-1.

On the third day of hunger strike, on January 13, Dr. Julie Caguiat, a regular jail visitor and physician of a number of detainees was not allowed to enter the jail and check on the health condition of the political prisoners. Jail authorities gave various excuses, but all were brazen violations of the law on the rights of detained persons.  

On the succeeding days, doctors of political prisoners were again prevented from seeing them. Among those denied entry were former Gabriela partylist representative Liza Maza, Bayan Chairperson Dr. Carol Araullo, Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez, and Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.  Lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), who are handling most of the cases of the political detainees, were twice denied entry but were later allowed to see a representative of one of the political detainees.  

Some family members like Julieta Caloza, wife of detained peace consultant Leopoldo Caloza, was not allowed inside Leopoldo’s cell for the first time. A jail guard merely informed her that Leopoldo’s health is “OK”, but could not see her because he could not get out of bed.

The jail authorities also prevented entry of visitors of other inmates, the common crime violators, citing the fasting and hunger strike as the reason for not allowing visitors. This caused division among the political prisoners and other inmates. This also provoked a violent reaction by the Sputnik gang leaders and members who shouted threats and invectives at the political prisoners. The jail guards did nothing to stop the gang.

In a statement, SICA political prisoners said:

“Unfortunately, this has induced violent reaction by some leaders and members of the Sputnik prison gang, as they are now blaming us, political prisoners, for the blocking too of visits to them yesterday. Leaders of the Sputnik prison gang together with some of their members were shouting last night (January 14), at the top of their voices, that their visitors have been denied entry yesterday, and were blaming us political prisoners, and our hunger strike for their visitors not having been able to come in. Furthermore, they were threatening to kill us, political prisoners, especially the senior leaders among us. We worry a lot that those, who have been shouting their threats at the top of their voices, have actually already been involved in murders of fellow inmates in jail.

Now, supposedly because of such threats to our lives, the jail authorities have been padlocking additional gates at the corridor leading to our cells, and have further been limiting our movements. We are the ones being made to suffer much for the foul threats to our lives.          

-- Political Prisoners at the SICA1 Jail, Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City
Tirso Alcantara; Emeterio Antala;Cesar Balmaceda; Leopoldo Caloza; Alan Jazmines; Jesus Abetria Jr.; Modesto Araza; Alex Arias; Eddie Cruz; Philip Enteria; Voltaire Guray; Fidel Holanda; Edward Lanzanas; Rolando Laylo; Eliseo Lopez; Alberto Macasinag; Jared Morales; Denis Ortiz; Hermogenes Reyes Jr.; Felicardo Salamat; Aristides Sarmiento; Cirilo Verdan

As of writing, the political prisoners in SICA-1 are still denied of their rights to be seen and visited by doctors of their choice, and human rights supporters and friends.  

We call on fellow human rights advocates to write letters of concern and to denounce these repressive measures taken up by BJMP authorities at Camp Bagong Diwa detention facility against political prisoners.

UA Date        :    18 January 2015



Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

  1. The BJMP authorities to allow visitors to enter SICA-1, Camp Bagong Diwa, and allow doctors, lawyers, family, friends and human rights workers to visit and look into the health situation of the political prisoners.
  2. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the repressive and unjust actions of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel at the Special Intensive Care Area 1 at Camp Bagong Diwa against the hunger-striking political prisoners.
  3. The dropping of the fabricated charges against the 491 political prisoners and for their immediate release.
  4. The Philippine Government to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory to.
You may send your communications to:

 

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III

President of the Republic

Malacañang Palace,

JP Laurel St., San Miguel

Manila Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

E-mail: op@president.gov.ph


Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)

7th Floor Agustin Building I

Emerald Avenue

Pasig City 1605

Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066

Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216

stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph


Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin

Secretary, Department of National Defense

Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,

E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City

Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600

Fax:+63(2) 982-5600

Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com


Atty. Leila De Lima

Secretary, Department of Justice

Padre Faura St., Manila

Direct Line 521-1908

Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.211/214

Fax: (+632) 523-9548

Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com, lmdelima.doj2@gmail.com


Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales

Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Bldg., UP Complex

Commonwealth Avenue

Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188

Fax: (+632) 929 0102

Email: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com, lorettann@gmail.com

 

Sec. Mar Roxas

Department Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government

DILG-NAPOLCOM Center, EDSA corner Quezon Avenue,

Quezon City, Philippines

Tel. No. +632 925-0330; 925-0331; Fax No. 925=0332

E-mail: maia@marroxas.com; mbunico@dilg.gov.ph

 

Jail Director Diony Dacanay Mamaril

Chief, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology

144 Mindanao Avenue, Project 8

Quezon City, Philippines 1106

Tel: +632 927-6383 loc. 102

E-mail: itu@bjmp.gov.ph; bjmpncrcrs@gmail.com

www.bjmp.gov.ph

 

Jail Superintendent Michelle Ng-Bonto

Camp Bagong Diwa

Lower Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila

E-mail: mitchbonto@gmail.com

 

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:

 

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free all political prisoners