“We have been waiting for so long. Why do our loved ones remain in detention?”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Political prisoners issued a statement from prison expressing dismay at President Duterte for not fulfilling his promise of granting amnesty to all political prisoners.
Thirty-three political prisoners detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa signed the statement, which was read by a human rights advocate during a protest at the foot of Chino Roces bridge, Jan. 18.
While the political prisoners look forward to the third round of talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front starting tomorrow until July 25 in Rome, Italy, they took offense that Duterte and the GRP “seem to be reneging on their statement and commitment to release all political prisoners.”
The political prisoners noted that after two rounds of talks, after they and their families staged a hunger strike and fasting last December, after Christmas and New Year, the release of political prisoners remains to be only a press release.
“Worse, we are being treated as playing cards,” the political prisoners said, adding that the Duterte administration is wont in pushing for a prolonged ceasefire without adhering to the previous bilateral agreements, including the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
NDFP consultant Ruben Saluta whose wife Presentacion remains in jail said the release of political prisoners is an obligation of the GRP under the CARHRIHL. The CARHRIHL upholds the Hernandez political doctrine, which prohibits the criminalization of political offenses.
Majority of the 392 political prisoners have been slapped with common non-bailable offenses, according to human rights alliance Karapatan.
Saluta added that three NDFP consultants are still detained at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. He said that Eduardo Sarmiento, Leopoldo Caloza and Emeterio Antalan were “convicted of crimes they did not commit.” Saluta maintained that their continuing detention is a violation of another bilateral agreement the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).
At least 130 are suffering from various illnesses, including Gloria Almonte’s husband Dionisio.
Dionisio is undergoing treatment for tuberculosis. He also has diabetes.
“We have been waiting for so long. Why do our loved ones remain in detention?” Almonte said during the protest action.