SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Ronalyn V. Olea, in an article for Bulatlat, highlights the issue of political prisoners in the Philippines:
Eduardo Serrano, 59, raised his fist as he approached his visitors from Karapatan and Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), Sept. 12.
He wore a tubao (handkerchief) on his head, his long grey hair tied. Ka Eddick, as his friends call him, let out a wide grin and shook the hands of those who came. Behind him was Eduardo Sarmiento, 61, who also smiled at the sight of visitors. Shortly after, Renante Gamara joined the group.
The three political prisoners are consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Although all of them have become activists during martial law years, they never knew each other until they were detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center at Camp Crame.
The three slammed the Aquino administration not only for their continuing incarceration but also for “implementing the same anti-people policies like those carried out by the Marcos dictatorship.”
The three were arrested in separate incidents while working as NDFP consultants for the peace talks with the Government of the Philippines (GPH).
As NDFP consultants, they are supposedly protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig). Under Jasig, a bilateral agreement signed by the GPH (then the Government of the Philippines) and the NDFP, all participants to the peace talks are immune from arrest, surveillance, detention and any punitive action.
“When I showed them [arresting team] my document of identification, they told me it is not valid,” Gamara related. Under Jasig, bearers of documents of identification (DI) are covered by immunity guarantees.
All three, despite being NDFP consultants, were slapped with criminal charges, mostly non-bailable offenses like murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Under the Hernandez political doctrine, all political offenses must be subsumed into a single crime of rebellion.
“The charges are baseless but with the slow judicial system, the military has made it a point that we languish in jail for long,” Ka Eddick said.
“Aquino and the regimes that followed after Marcos, are only more sophisticated in repression,” Gamara said.
Ka Eddick said that the basic problems in Philippine society have not changed at all. “The country remains semi-colonial and semi-feudal. I see no reason to forget what I have learned during martial law years as a student activist,” he said.