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Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) came out with this press release detailing the plight of political prisoners under the Aquino administration and their plan to fast until International Human Rights Day, which is December 10th:
Rights group SELDA criticized the brazen impunity under the Aquino administration with the increasing number of political prisoners, continued filing of trumped up charges and the brute force inflicted upon so-called enemies of the state.
“The Aquino government may deny the existence of political prisoners but it continues on a rampage with the successive arrest of political prisoners. A total of 123 prisoners of conscience have been arrested under Noynoy Aquino’s regime. Forty-four of them were arrested in this year alone,” said Angelina Ipong, SELDA secretary general. She added that the Aquino government has also denied the release of 14 consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, who are involved in the peace talks with the Philippine government.
Political prisoner Ramon Patriarca, a consultant of the National Democratic Front, begins his hunger strike until December 10 to demand his immediate release or at the least that he should be immediately transferred to a regular civilian detention center. Patriarca is the only political prisoner who remains in a military stockade in the AFP-Central Command in Camp Lapu-lapu, Lahug, Cebu City. “We continue with our demand for their urgent release.”
In a protest action in front of Camp Crame, SELDA, together with relatives of political prisoners made big “peace cranes,” an origami artwork of the bird symbolizing their demand for justice and freedom for all political prisoners.
The human rights organization lambasted the foul schemes of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in identifying its target for arrest and detention. It highlighted the case of Rolly Panesa, a security guard who was mistaken for Benjamin Mendoza, an alleged high-ranking New People’s Army rebel. “By virtue of a mole at the back of Rolly’s neck, military soldiers insisted that they had caught a big fish. This is very dangerous for ordinary folks. A common distinguishing mark between you and a target could mean a drastic change in your life.” Ipong continued.
Rolly Panesa, together with his common-law-wife, Marites Chioco, Marites’ daughter and son-in-law were only on their way home when they were suddenly dragged into waiting vehicles on the street by armed men on October 5, 2012. “Next thing he knew, Rolly was blindfolded, handcuffed and beaten black and blue for the next three days. Now he has the burden of proving that he is not the person his military captors earned P5.6M for.” Ipong protested.
Trumped up charges have likewise continued to be employed in the arrest and detention of human rights defenders and community workers. “The filing of trumped up charges against political prisoners is a common practice of the state and it is used without let-up by the Aquino government to silence its critics, more so that the military is hungrily running after the hefty rewards of catching its targets.” Ipong declared.
The ex-detainee expressed particular concern over the recent DILG-DND memo containing the list of alleged rebel leaders with a P467-million reward for their capture. “This is a hit-list. The reward is an attractive motivation for interested individuals, especially military personnel, to produce by hook or by crook these rebels, whether or not they are really that person. Moreover, worse things could happen to targets, like being liquidated or disappeared.” Ipong declared. “These actions will definitely not help in pushing for the peace negotiations to proceed.”
“Peace is not part of the Aquino government’s agenda, as it continues to deceive the Filipino people that it is sincere in finding a solution to their economic, social, cultural, civil and political problems. Instead of releasing political prisoners, Aquino is set on arresting and detaining more of its critics with this latest act. But we will continue with our campaign to free all political prisoners,” Ipong concluded.
Political Prisoners in detention centers in Metro Manila and other regions will be staging a one-day fast today, while others will extend theirs until December 10, International Human Rights Day.