Release Esterlita Suaybaguio and all political prisoners! — Karapatan

On the first year since the illegal arrest and detention of peace consultant Esterlita Suaybaguio, Karapatan renews the call for the release of Suaybaguio and all political prisoners in the Philippines. 

Esterlita Suaybaguio was arrested by State forces without warrant on August 26, 2019, using a search warrant issued by Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, the same judge who issued search warrants two months after, in November, which enabled the raids of offices of non-govermental and people’s organizations in Negros and Manila. Suaybaguio faces trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, which she asserts were planted evidence by the State forces which effected her arrest. 

We are also worried about Suaybaguio’s condition in detention at Camp Karingal in Quezon City. The said facility has been repeatedly in the news for reports of COVID-19 transmission, which is expected in overcongested prisons such as the camp. This is why political prisoners have filed a petition for humanitarian release at the Supreme Court in April 8, 2020, citing jails in the Philippines as ticking time bombs in the light of the COVID-19 spread. Lamentably, the Supreme Court has yet to rule on said petition nearly five months after it was filed. 

Karapatan has documented 635 political prisoners, with 11 of peace consultants in detention, 53 elderly and 95 sick among them. 

We demand the immediate release of Esterlita Suaybaguio, as we accuse State forces of conducting illegal and warrantless arrests and other human rights violations against political dissenters and peace advocates. We call on Filipinos and the international community to uphold justice and accountability amid the brazen fascism of the Duterte administration.

Roneo Clamor
Karapatan Deputy Secretary General