[Statement] Free ALL political prisoners and detainees regardless of political affiliations -TFDP

Free ALL political prisoners and detainees regardless of political affiliations

FREE ALL 2015 copyTask Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) welcomes the pronouncement of the President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to release all political prisoners not only as a confidence building measure for the resumption of peace talks with the CPP-NPA-NDF but to begin to heal the divide and exclusion of different groups/sectors from governance and development.

We strongly urge the incoming administration to free ALL political prisoners coming from different political/revolutionary groups and all the human rights defenders who are victims of trumped-up charges under the previous administrations.

TFDP documented 340 political prisoners and detainees nationwide including those alleged members of different Moro rebel groups, alleged members of Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) and alleged members of the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (RHB).

There are also human rights defenders detained because of false charges to silence them in fighting and defending their rights.  Antonio Tolentino or Apung Tony, a barangay chieftain in Porac, Pampanga was arrested on April 16, 2014 on false charges of kidnapping and carjacking.

Apung Tony leads the residents and farmers’ group in a dispute against land developers in Hacienda Dolores.

Another example is the case of Marites Dela Cruz Marquez and Rosario Marquez Loreto, two Agta women and both from General Nakar in Quezon Province, who were illegally arrested on September 26, 2014 at Barangay Sta. Ines, Tanay, Rizal Province.

The two Agta women are wrongly charged with the kidnapping of a retired military official allegedly committed by the New People’s Army. On the basis of their traditional necklace allegedly worn by the NPAs, the two women were arrested and continue to languish in jail.

We ask for a comprehensive review of all cases charged against political prisoners as well as a review of those wrongfully convicted of common crimes when in fact it was in

furtherance of their political beliefs. We also ask for the immediate withdrawal of charges filed against human rights defenders and innocent civilians.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has rightly recognized that political prisoners are not criminals since they acted in pursuit of their political beliefs. Let these words be translated to action: Mr. President, grant a general, unconditional release for ALL political prisoners and detainees regardless of political affiliations and associations. Free the innocents and release ALL human rights defenders who are victims of false charges. Genuine peace relies on the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights of the people.

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