[Statement] Unless the yoke of exploitation and oppression are broken, we are all prisoners! – REHAS
The struggle to effect the release of Political Prisoners/ Alleged Political Offenders (PPs/APOs) in the Philippines has been an arduous work to do knowing that under the present capitalist run state, the struggle for change to improve the lives of the poor, oppressed and exploited masses has been suppressed by the State using its apparatuses (Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, Prison, Court, Police & Military), the very major reason why freedom fighters, human rights advocates and revolutionaries are being arrested, criminally charged, and detained, in fact, under a class society like the Philippines, the State is always an instrument used by the ruling class to suppress the subordinate class. But once they are arrested and detained, they will face another world of struggle in a limited showground but very hard to overcome. It is a struggle against personal loneliness, social alienation, political demoralization, economic deficiency, family dislocation and most of them, the worries on how to win battles inside the courtroom. The truth of the matter under the current system of society, everyone is a prisoner (the yoke of poverty and oppression) both those outside and inside detention center and unless the yoke of exploitation and oppression are broken, we are prisoners!
As of March 3, 2003, REHAS Inc. has monitored 190 Political Prisoners/Alleged Political Offenders (PPs/APOs) who are still languishing in 58 different detention centers all over the country. There are many political prisoners across the country if we are going to pool together all data from TFDP, KARAPATAN, PAHRA, MAG, BALAY, and other human rights organizations. The government through its judicial branch, charges the APOs/PPs of common crimes, despite that the act they committed were in pursuit of their political belief. Some were arrested and detained because of mere suspicion that they were associated with a revolutionary organization. Jail situations remain to be a place not suited for human being (not well ventilated, seldom PPs are exposed to sun light, insufficient supply of food, no recreation center and most often, PPs are being harassed by jail guards, visitors are being taxed by some jail guards, etc.), the very reason why there is a need for prison reforms. Another problem face by PPs/APOs is the cost of hiring a “competent” lawyer to handle their cases, and posting bail bands, such demands expensive fees, in which families and relatives can’t afford. Families and relatives seldom visited their love ones in jail because of economic difficulties. The split within the progressive movement has also contributed negative impact to APOs/PPs, their next of kin and to the over-all fight to free all political prisoners in this country and therefore, the need to unite all these groups into one call and first time in the history after the split that sometime on February 14, 2011, REHAS through the effort of Juanito Itaas, we were able to unite the said PPs from various blocks (RPM-P/RPA-ABB, CPP-NPA, MLPP, MILF and MNLF) into one common call which resulted into a joint manifesto signed by them calling the Office of the President, DOJ, OPAPP and CHR to release all political prisoners regardless of political affiliations. If the APOs/PPs have already started to unite among themselves, I think there is no reason that political blocks and cause-oriented groups and revolutionary parties in this country cannot also unite for a common call and that is to help free all political prisoners in this country.
The call to free all alleged political offenders and political prisoners is a legitimate demand, not merely a tactical call, but must be a continuous fight because there will always be political prisoners as long as the system is not change.