Bp. Alminaza’s statement of solidarity to political prisoners

December 14, 2023

Dear friends,

Please see attached: Solidarity statement of Most Rev. Gerardo A. Alminaza, D.D. of the Diocese of San Carlos, Negros Occidental, to political prisoners, dated December 14, 2023.

Thank you.

Karapatan Public Information Desk

Solidarity Statement for Political Prisoners

“I was in prison and you visited me…
For whatever you do to the least of my people,
you did it to me!” [Mt. 25:36]

Pope Francis, referring to persons deprived of liberty, once said that “the way in which these ‘least ones’ are treated is a measure of the dignity and the hope of a society” [Pope Francis in Bahrain, November 2022]. Mahatma Gandhi is even quoted to have said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

In observance then of the 75th Anniversary of the International Declaration of Human Rights, these words of Our Lord Jesus Christ challenge us to care concretely for those deprived of liberty [PDL] and political prisoners [PPs], as we do the same for our environmental and land defenders, for our indigenous people, for EJK victims and their families, for persons with disability, for our migrant workers, for public jeepney drivers and operators, among many others.

For if we truly “walk our talk” and live up to our “We leave no one behind” battle cry, we cannot but be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters behind bars, particularly the political prisoners on Negros island. That day, at least 100 out of 137 political prisoners on the island have undertaken a 24-hour fast to raise awareness on the resumption of peace talks and fight for their rights.

In line with this year’s theme of “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All,” I hereby express my solidarity with them and give support to their objectives for their said fasting.

It is my sincere hope that their actions and intentions will lead to positive outcomes, including the success of peace talks that guarantee security and immunity for all involved, the immediate release of detained NDF peace talks consultants, the unconditional release of political prisoners nationwide, and the abrogation of the terrorist designation of the NDF and its personnel involved in the peace talks.

Additionally, I urge once more for the release of ailing elderly political prisoners, such as 75-yearold Frank Fernandez and 84-year-old Gerardo de la Peña, who are currently detained at the National Bilibid Prison in Metro Manila. Their age and health conditions call for humanitarian considerations.

In standing up for the rights and well-being of political prisoners, we uphold the principles of our Catholic Social Teachings and strive for a society that values dignity, freedom, and justice for all. Together, let us continue to advocate for the fair and just treatment of prisoners, ensuring that their rights are respected, and their humanity upheld. By doing so, we contribute to building a society that values compassion, equality, and the inherent dignity of every individual.

(Sgd) Most Rev. Gerardo A. Alminaza, D.D.
Bishop, Diocese of San Carlos
Feast of St. John of the Cross
December 14, 2023