Friday, May 20, 2011

Aquino asked to look into plight of political prisoners

BAYAN
News Release
May 20, 2011

Aquino asked to look into plight of political prisoners

They are not VIP-prisoners and receive no special treatment, but their ongoing unjust detention also deserves the attention of the Aquino government.

This was how the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan described more than 300 political prisoners in the country today, most of whom were arrested during the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Several others were also arrested during the term of President Benigno Aquino III.

“While the rich and powerful detainees are enjoying perks and privileges while in detention, we have more than 300 political prisoners languishing in jail for trumped-up charges. Some have been detained for years. All they seek is justice and freedom, and not any form of special treatment,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The detention of hundreds of political dissenters is a stain on the human rights record of the Philippine government. Many of the detainees were arrested during the reign of terror of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Others were arrested as the peace talks under the Aquino government were about to begin. Their plight deserves immediate attention from the Aquino government,” Reyes said.

Bayan cited the case of detained cultural worker and writer Ericson Acosta who was arrested last February 13 on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives. At the time of his arrest in the rural town of San Jorge in Samar, he was in the company of a Barangay official and only possessed a laptop. Acosta was a former editor of the Philippine Collegian of UP Diliman and a one-time assistant section editor in the Manila Times. He is accused of carrying a grenade when he was accosted by the AFP.

Acosta continues to write his "prison diary" and the entries are posted online in his "Jailhouse Blog" that's maintained by friends and colleagues.

“The dropping of charges against the Morong 43 was a positive step undertaken by the Aquino government. A follow-up to this can be made through the withdrawal of the charges against the remaining detainees, or the granting of a general amnesty for all political prisoners and thus effect their immediate release. The release of prisoners in relation to the peace process should also be pursued,” he added.

The more than 300 political prisoners are scattered in detention facilities all over the country, including Camp Crame, Fort Bonifacio, Camp Bagong Diwa and various provincial jails.

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