[Press Release] Political prisoners escalate their fasting to HUNGER STRIKE for freedom and human rights – www.tfdp.net

In the morning of July 25, 2011, before President Benigno Aquino III delivers his second State of the Nation Address, political prisoners in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa escalate their fasting to Hunger Strike to demand for freedom and human rights.

“Ngayong araw na ito ay iniaangat namin ang aming pag-aayuno sa HUNGER STRIKE upang ipakita sa pamahalaan na kami ay seryoso sa aming panawagan na magkaroon siya ng programa para sa karapatang pantao, palayain ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal at repormahin ang sistema ng koreksiyonal sa bansa lalo na ang Board of Pardons and Parole guidelines,” Juanito Itaas, leader of the political prisoners’ steering committee in NBP said in a statement through the rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).

Last Thursday, July 21, political prisoners and detainees around the country launched their nationwide fasting for freedom and human rights to express their concern over government’s lack of explicit national policy on human rights and the continuous neglect of the plight of victims of political incarceration in the country.

The escalation of the struggle of the political prisoners into a Hunger Strike signifies their firm resolve to call attention not only to their situation but the lack of a human rights agenda of this government, according to Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP).

“There are 320 political prisoners and detainees languishing in jails across the country before Tatay Umbrero died two weeks ago.  We have asked the government to look into their plight even before President Aquino took his oath last year.  We even had a dialogue last year with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and they promised us that they will resume the operation of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance, Pardon and Parole (PCBREPP) to evaluate the releases of political prisoners. Up to now this promise has not been fulfilled,” Amistad said.

PCBREPP was created during the time of former President Ramos as mechanism to table cases of alleged political offenders.  The process was able to release a significant number of political offenders under President Ramos’ term.  It was resurrected during the term of former President Arroyo and was able to release eight political prisoners at the last days of her term of office.

Political prisoners worry that PNoy’s administration has no intention of looking into their situation. Tatay Umbrero’s death shows that PNoy has no time and attention for human rights violations victims.  He did not even lift a finger to release a dying man,” Amistad lamented.

On this matter, the dictator Marcos fared better as he released Benigno Aquino for medical reasons while a dying man’s plea for freedom fell on deaf ears.

Mariano Umbrero was the cancer-stricken political prisoner in NBP who died last July 15, 2011 with government failing to grant executive clemency.

“We cannot blame the people for worrying.  He has been in office for one year and he has repeated so many times his single-minded determination to pursue the corruption cases against the former administration but not a vision or a roadmap for our future based on human rights and justice. Sa matuwid na daan, karapatan pantao ang salalayan. Sa matuwid na daan kapakanan at kagalingan ng mamamayan hindi ng iilan ang dapat isaalang-alang”, Amistad concluded.

Meanwhile, political detainees in Dumaguete Provincial Jail, Kabankalan City Jail, Leyte Provincial Jail, Samar Provincial Jail and Catbalogan Samar Provincial Jail are also joining the hunger strike while political detainees in Mindanao and MMDJ Taguig are already in fasting since July 21, 2011.


July 25, 2011


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