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House progressive bloc calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners; dropping of trumped-up charges vs. political dissenters

3 May 2010 No Comment

(Originally posted on October 15,2010)

 

The progressive bloc of legislators in the House of Representatives today filed House Resolution 555 calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in light of the impending release and dropping of charges against soldiers involved in previous anti-government actions.

 

The bloc is composed of Party-list Reps. Teddy Casiño and Neri Javier Colmenares (Bayan Muna), Rafael Mariano (Anakpawis), Luz Ilagan, and Emmi de Jesus (Gabriela Women’s Party) Raymond Palatino (Kabataan), and Antonio Tinio (Act Teachers).

 

The lawmakers said that “the government’s immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners will be a gesture of justice and goodwill in the interest of attaining an atmosphere conducive to the peace process as well as a confidence-building measure for the resumption of peace talks.”

 

There are almost 400 political prisoners in the country, most of which the human rights group Karapatan said were illegally arrested, abducted and jailed on trumped-up charges.

 

The Resolution specifically cited the Morong 43 – the 43 health workers illegally arrested on February 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal by the Philippine Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade and the Rizal Provincial Police and who are now continually detained for being suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA).

 

Also cited were Angelina “Angie” Ipong who was abducted on March 8, 2005 in Aloran, Misamis Occidental by alleged PNP-CIDG agents, held incommunicado for weeks, tortured and sexually harassed.  Ipong, 65, has reportedly suffered two mild heart attacks but is yet to be released for humanitarian reasons; and Randy Felix Malayao, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel consultant, who was abducted by the military on May 15, 2008, tortured and denied communication from his relatives and friends. In June 2010, Malayao was acquitted from murder charges filed against him for the murder of former Cagayan governor and congressman, Col. Rodolfo Aquinaldo and his bodyguard. He continues to be detained in Ilagan, Isabela.

 

“In the same vein, numerous activists have been slapped with trumped-up charges of rebellion and common crimes that hang like a Damocles’ sword over their heads, their lives being disrupted by threats of arrest, abduction or assassination. Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, who has been the subject of various criminal charges due to his principled opposition to anti-people government policies and actions, is the most concrete example of this unjust attack on the constitutional right to dissent,” the lawmakers said.

 

The resolution stated that NDFP consultants Vicente Ladlad, Randall Echanis and Rafael Baylosis also continue to be victims of fabricated charges and face arrest despite a June 1, 2007 Supreme Court ruling dismissing the rebellion case against them and six members of Congress (the Batasan 6).

 

“The Executive Department, through the Department of Justice, can cause the dropping of charges against the Morong 43, Ipong, Malayao, Ocampo and all political prisoners as well as activists faced with spurious charges. The trumped-up charges against NDFP consultants must likewise be withdrawn as a confidence-building measure in the peace negotiations between government and the NDFP,” the lawmakers concluded. (reposted from www.bayanmuna.net)#

 

 

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