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Solons in solidarity fasting with political prisoners

6 December 2016 No Comment

PRESS RELEASE
06 December 2016
Reference: ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio (0920-922-0817) and Rep. France Castro (0920-969-8457)

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ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. Antonio Tinio and Rep. France Castro join the nationwide hunger strike of all political prisoners today, December 6.  The solidarity fasting for freedom from December 3 up to December 10, International Human Rights Day, calls for the immediate release of around 400 political prisoners, especially the sick, elderly and those who have long been in jail.

“Political prisoners have suffered long enough behind bars.  In fact, they should not have suffered in the first place since they are activists from marginalized sectors, including the education sector, who, in their struggle with the masses for their economic, social, and political rights, are branded as rebels by past administrations, the military and the police, and the Oplan Bayanihan,” said the solons.

“The ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will be pointless if the previously signed agreements like the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIRL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) are ignored,” Tinio argued.  “Government’s disregard of its duties under these agreements is what caused the criminalization of the activism of our political prisoners and the illegal arrests and detention of peace consultants.”

“Among those unjustly jailed are Lumad and volunteer teachers and organizers for the teachers’ movement, whose political convictions and activities are criminalized with the filing of trumped-up cases against them.  Due to these baseless and malicious charges, torture during detention, and inhumane prison conditions, they suffer from various diseases,” Castro insisted. “Should this be the return of their service to the people?”

Among these political prisoners were Amelia Pond and Dominiciano “Dioning” Muya, both Lumad educators in Davao, and Rhea Pareja, a volunteer teacher in Quezon.

Another person unjustly jailed is Rene Boy Abiva, a community social worker and organizer of the militant Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in Cagayan who was arrested in December 2013 under Oplan Bayanihan.  The military implicated him with the ambush of soldiers in Tinoc, Ifugao in April 2012.  Rene Boy is gainfully employed since 2011 by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and has never set foot in Ifugao.

“The continued detention of Rene Boy, our teachers Amy, Dioning, and Rhea, and hundreds of other political prisoners has no place under an administration that brands itself as ‘activist’ and one for change,” said the solons. “It shows that, far from discontinuing the heinous Oplan Bayanihan, government still implements it as if it were legal and democratic.  It proves political repression still remains under the Duterte administration.”

“We fast today in protest of the injustice of a government that considers service to the poor, militancy, and dissent as rebellious and criminal.  We call on President Duterte to free them now.”  ###

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