Release on recognizance of terminally ill political prisoner sought in Bohol court

The lawyer for a terminally ill political prisoner has petitioned the court to release his client on recognizance on humanitarian grounds.

Atty. Kristian Lora of the Visayas Community Law Center filed the petition at Carmen, Bohol Regional Trial Court Branch 51 on June 19, 2024 on behalf of workers’ rights advocate Ernesto Jude Rimando who is suffering from a host of illnesses, including Stage 4 liver cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary tuberculosis.

Rimando, a long-time researcher for the Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo, went to Metro Manila in 2020 to seek treatment for liver cirrhosis and sepsis. Before he could commence treatment, however, he was arrested on January 6, 2021 in his rented apartment in Quezon City by six armed men in plain clothes who failed to present a warrant and refused to identify themselves. He was blindfolded, tortured and interrogated on the spot. The arresting team also planted firearms and a grenade in his belongings and prepared a hastily revised arrest warrant in the name of “Allan Morales” prior to his inquest.

Fortunately, the court saw through the falsity of the charges on illegal possession of firearms and explosives and dismissed it. Rimando, however, is still detained on other charges under the name of “Allan Morales.”

Since his arrest, Rimando had been in and out of hospitals a number of times. On May 17 of this year, Rimando was brought to the Philipine General Hospital for an urgent medical check-up after complaining of a recurrence of his liver cirrhosis symptoms. At the PGH, his doctors determined that his liver cirrhosis had progressed to advanced liver cancer that has metastasized to his other organs, and that he was still suffering from tuberculosis. They recommended a regimen to treat his tuberculosis and liver cancer.

Recently, however, his doctors have had to discontinue his tuberculosis treatment because of adverse effects on his liver and kidneys. The aggressive spread of his cancer tumors has also prompted the doctors to give a poor prognosis for Rimando and recommend palliative treatment.

Rimando’s lawyer has petitioned the court to release him on recognizance on humanitarian grounds so he can spend the remaining days of his life with his family. Atty. Federico Quevedo and former Quezon City Rep. Atty. Christopher Belmonte have agreed to serve as his legal custodians and guarantee his appearance before the court whenever required. Rimando’s petition states that should his motion be granted, he will be remaining at the PGH for his palliative care “to at least give him relief, comfort, suport and address the symptoms of his serious medical condition to improve his quality of life.”

KARAPATAN fully supports Ernesto Jude Rimando’s petition for release on just and humanitarian grounds. On top of his terminal illness which can only be exacerbated by his continued detention, Rimando likewise deserves release for being a victim of false arrest, planted evidence, perjured testimonies and multiple other human rights violations.

*Copy of the petition is available upon request.