Karapatan decries inhumane treatment of recently deceased elderly political prisoner

Karapatan extends its condolences to the family and friends of political prisoner Antonio Legaspi, who died of a heart attack on April 19, 2024 at the age of 74.

Legaspi was arrested on May 26, 2023 with his wife Rosita Taboy at their home in San Jose del Monte where they were longtime residents. Antonio Legaspi was a union organizer of stevedores and other dock workers in his younger years and was affiliated with the Confederation of Labor of the Philippines.

The elderly and ailing couple was first detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City. Taboy was later transferred to Samar while Legaspi was remanded to the San Jose del Monte City Jail.

At the time of his arrest, Legaspi had already been hypertensive. His condition worsened when his wife was transferred to another place of detention, and he had difficulty sleeping. At the San Jose del Monte City Jail, the authorities imposed unreasonable restrictions on Legaspi despite his advanced age and frail health. Days before he died, he disclosed to one of his visitors that of all detainees at the jail, he was the only one who was never allowed out of his cell for sunning, exercise and socialization, a violation of the Mandela Rules mandating minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners. Solitary confinement is considered a form of torture and has harmful effects on a person’s physical and mental well-being.

Karapatan denounces the jail authorities’ inhumane treatment of Legaspi, which likely heightened his stress and hastened his death. Political prisoners like him who are sickly, of senior age and detained on trumped-up charges do not deserve to spend another minute in jail. We reiterate our call for the release of elderly, ailing and long-detained political prisoners on just and humanitarian grounds.