Karapatan: Compassionate release still the best option for cancer-stricken political prisoner

Human rights group Karapatan asserted that “compassionate release is still the best option” for 66-year-old cancer-stricken political prisoner Antonio Molina, who was sent to the hospital yesterday, July 7, after the Palawan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 51 approved his request for a five-day medical confinement.

“While the Palawan RTC Branch 51 acted on Antonio Molina’s medical confinement, seeing its merit and for humanitarian considerations, we hope that it should soon consider compassionate release for Molina to enable him to undertake necessary procedures and treatment, especially as his health is fast deteriorating,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

In a decision issued on June 30, Palawan RTC Branch 51 Judge Ambrosio de Luna stated that Molina “is hereby given leave of Court to temporarily leave his detention cell for medical confinement at Medical Mission Group Hospitals and Health Services Cooperative, Puerto Princesa City from July 7 to 11, 2021 for his chemotherapy subject to the local IATF guidelines and to the condition that he shall return immediately thereafter.”

The counsels of Molina from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), filed an Urgent Motion for Medical Confinement (Chemotherapy Regimen) on June 30 at the Palawan Regional Trial Court Branch 51 which prays for an initial “5-day confinement period to allow for additional laboratory procedures to be done, have enough time to observe his body’s response to the procedure, and be able to rest and regain strength after the procedure.”

In light of the decision granting Molina’s motion, Palabay also called on the Puerto Princesa City Jail authorities “to provide the most humane treatment to Molina and recognize his condition not of being a prisoner but as a cancer patient.”

Molina was diagnosed with abdominal wall sarcoma, a type of cancer that arises from transformed cells of mesenchymal (connective tissue) origin. His doctors recommended for him to undergo a series of 3-day regimen of chemotherapy. After the procedure, doctors will evaluate his response to the treatment.

The 66-year-old political prisoner is a member of Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan, who was arrested on October 4, 2019 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan together with Glendhyl Malabanan, Joemelito Tanilon, Ronces Paraguso, Jenny Ann Bautista, Awing Lumpat and Bener Rimbuwan. Aside from being charged with fabricated cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, a warrant of arrest for murder was also served to Molina which was supposedly intended for a certain Domingo Ritas.

“While this five-day medical confinement is crucial for Molina, we are also strongly asserting the call that Molina should be released on humanitarian grounds. We are racing against time here, so a compassionate release is in place. This is the best treatment not just for his illness, but for the wrongs committed against him for being accused of falsified charges and made to suffer in jail in the later years of his life,” the Karapatan official ended.