Free all 503 political prisoners!

Criminalization of democratic and patriotic actions violates international laws

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

Farmers organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) reiterated its demand to the government to release all 503 political prisoners incarcerated and languishing in different jails across the country.

The Duterte government’s nonstop arrest and detention of activists added close to hundred new political prisoners in jail,” according to Antonio Flores, secretary general of KMP who also noted that majority of the political prisoners are farmers who were charged with criminal, and non-bailable cases after they were red-tagged as members of the New People’s Army and implicated in NPA activities.

Last June 9, 2018, KMP together with other peasant organizations Amihan Federation of Peasant Women, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya visited the inmates at the Special Intensive Care Area (SICA) in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. The groups noted that the situation of political prisoners is getting worse by the day.

“Political prisoners are subjected to solitary confinement, denial of right to counsel, and right to communicate with their families and colleagues. Political prisoners are also deliberately refrained by their jailers from appearing in court through various made-up excuses like not having enough security personnel to escort them to court.”

“Political prisoners also struggle with substandard food, lacking water and unhygienic prison facilities. The allocated budget for prison food is Php60 per person per day but based on the quality of the food in prison, it appears that a measly Php10 per person per day is spent for inmates. “Pera na nga para sa preso, kinukurakot pa,” according to Flores.

“The grave injustice committed against political prisoners by the government include arbitrarily charging them with criminal charges that are non-bailable, such as arson, murder, illegal possession of firearms (explosives), and kidnapping. The slow and unfair justice system also ensures that political prisoners would be indefinitely detained, and the resolution of their cases would be deliberately delayed,” Flores added.

The KMP leader said that the government’s criminalization of democratic and patriotic actions is in clear violation of the Constitution and established principles of international humanitarian laws, which recognizes the people’s right to dissent.

Flores said, “activists and human rights defenders continue to experience illegal surveillance, illegal and warrantless arrest, among others threat, harassment and intimidation from State forces and authorities.”

On June 8, Juoriel Abrienica, a member of the Hiniusang Mag-uuma sa Lagonglong (HIMALAG) in Lagonglong in Misamis Oriental was illegally arrested by 58th IBPA soldiers. He is detained at the army detachment.

On June 13, Ronny Japag, a member of a local peasant organization Brgy. Mahawan, Kananga, Leyte was arrested by the 78th IBPA. He was unjustly accused of murder and illegal possession of explosives.

On June 17, Ricky Omandam, a member of Onyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa (OGYON), a local organization of farm workers, was arrested by elements of the 58th IBPA in Brgy. New Eden, Pangantucan, Bukidnon. He is illegally detained at the military detachment in Brgy. Madaya in Pangantucan. The soldiers accused Omandam of being a supporter of the NPA.

Antonio Flores, 0921-2726682