Release Ramon Patriarca instead of keeping him in a military camp

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines has yet to lift a finger to help locate the fugitive former Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. yet, its hand on the hasty transfer of political prisoner Ramon Patriarca from Danao City Jail to a military stockade in the AFP-Central Command in Camp is obvious. The AFP should stop denying about their rights abuses as it keeps its eyes closed to Palparan’s whereabouts; coddles Lt. Col. Felipe Anotado and SSgt. Edgardo Osorio, Palparan’s co-accused; and instead continues to target people whom it perceives as their enemies,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan.  

Political prisoner Ramon Patriarca, a consultant of the National Democratic Front, was tortured and held incommunicado after he was abducted by elements of the 78th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the provincial police on February 5, 2009 in Consolacion, Cebu.  Patriarca was charged with rebellion but his arrest was without warrant. Patriarca testified in court that he was kicked and punched, subjected to “water cure” and other forms of physical and mental torture. A doctor who examined Patriarca said he had acute stress disorder secondary to physical and psychological trauma. 

Karapatan-Central Visayas reported that Patriarca was transferred back to Camp Lapu-lapu yesterday afternoon, January 25, 2012, without prior notice to him and his counsel, on the basis of reports of an “NPA rescue” and using a court order. “These are outright lies. The same thing was attempted to Alan Jasminez, another NDF consultant who is detained at the Custodial Center in Camp Crame. There was also an attempt, a few months ago, to transfer Jasminez in a military facility on the basis of a supposed court order,” added Hilao-Enriquez. 

Hilao-Enriquez stressed that the “military has no right to keep political prisoners inside their camps as in the case of Patriarca and another NDF consultant, Tirso “Bart” Alcantara who has been kept in Fort Bonifacio more than a year now. In the first place, the 12 NDF consultants should never have been in jail for they are covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) between the government and the NDF.“ 

Karapatan calls for the release of some 347 (as of end 2011) political prisoners who are in various detention centers all over the country.  “The P-Noy government ignored our call for a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty for all political prisoners, majority of whom were arrested under the GMA regime. Instead, 81 people were arrested under P-Noy’s watch,” said Hilao-Enriquez. 

“The political prisoners are slapped with trumped up criminal charges that make their detention baseless. Also, the JASIG-protected NDF consultants should have been released last year if only the government kept its commitment to the NDF to release “all, if not most” of the NDF consultants in keeping with the peace talks between the GPH and the NDFP. The government chose to put the peace talks on hold instead of releasing political prisoners,” concluded Hilao-Enriquez. 

“If the government really wants real peace and is for human rights, as they continue to announce, it must release Ramon Patriarca and all political prisoners and stop political persecution against its perceived enemies,” Karapatan’s chairperson asserted.###