Tag Archives: New Bilibid Prison

[Featured Story] Political Prisoner Longs for Freedom, The Story of Juanito Itaas (Part 1)- TFDP

Political Prisoner Longs for Freedom, The Story of Juanito Itaas (Part 1)
by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines

HRonlinePH.com published this article by TFDP in July 2011. We decided to reshare this article one more time in support of TFDP’s #FREEourDEFENDERS Campaign.

Juanito Itaas source: jezzdave.wordpress.com

Amidst the sound of merrymaking, Juanito Itaas addressed the visitors and his fellow inmates during the Paskuhan sa Kampo at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) last year.  He called on President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to pay attention to the plight of all political prisoners and detainees and act for their immediate release.

After his speech, a calmer Juanito, more fondly known as Nitoy, approached some of the staff of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) to chat.  His zeal was still very evident, but there seemed to be a tinge of sadness in his eyes, which became more evident when he started to speak.  Christmas, after all, is just around the corner, and despite the joy brought about by the visit of relatives and friends during the Paskuhan sa Kampo, the fact remains that for more than two decades already, Nitoy has spent Christmas locked behind the cold bars of his prison cell.

He has been previously recommended for release.  But the wheels of fate did not turn in his favor.


Nitoy is one of the ten children of Mamerto and Fausta Itaas of Barangay Sinuron, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.  Nitoy’s family tended root crops, corn and coconut as their primary source of income.  Aside from farming, Nitoy’s father was a part-time pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).

Those who knew Nitoy said that he has a big heart – helping those in need and standing up for the weak.   He also joined mass mobilizations and demanded land for the tillers. When Nitoy was 15 years old, he worked in a shoe factory where he stayed for two years.  After which, he sold tapes, radios and textiles in a mining site in Davao del Sur.  The idea of social justice was not lost in him as he witnessed the injustices experienced by the miners.  For every ten sacks of ore dug by the miners, only three remain with them.  Six went to the owner of the tunnel and one to the military positioned at the entrance.

In 1981, Nitoy became a full time organizer.  The death of his brother, a guerilla fighter, in 1982 all the more pushed him to continue with his involvement.

In 1984, Nitoy met Glenda, who later became his wife, in Tagum, Davao.  In 1986, they got married.  They continued to live in Tagum until one fateful day in 1989.

In the evening of August 27, 1989, Nitoy was with a companion and onboard a jeepney along Lizada Street corner Quezon Boulevard in Davao City, when a vehicle cut across their path.  Several men alighted from the vehicle and declared a hold up.  Nitoy’s companion, later identified in the newspapers as Constabulary 2nd Class Camilo Maglente, suddenly held his arms tight.  Nitoy resisted but there was another vehicle whose passengers pointed their guns at him.  His legs and arms were bound.  He was blindfolded and in a matter of seconds, he was thrown into the back of the van.  He was brought to an unidentified military barracks where he was held for questioning.  The many different questions thrown at him confused Nitoy.

Based on TFDP documents, Nitoy’s military captors under the Philippine Constabulary – Criminal Investigation Service (PC-CIS) and Regional Security Unit (RSU) headed by then Lt. Cesar Mancao were the ones who tortured him.

The next morning, the interrogation continued, but Nitoy did not provide any information.  The interrogators were not able to get any information from Nitoy.  Hence, when his arresting officers, Lt. Mancao and a certain Boy Erno of the RSU failed to get anything from him, he was turned over to two unidentified military men where his agonizing experience began.

Immediately after he was blindfolded, handcuffed at the back, and covered at the mouth with a masking tape, the men dragged him into a vehicle.  Inside, heavy blows reduced Nitoy into a shapeless heap.  His captors also used the “dry submarine”  on Nitoy.  He eventually blacked out.  After he regained consciousness and another round of punches, he admitted everything that was accused of him.  The men stopped hurting him.

Nitoy further related that he lost track of the time.  He was taken to several places and subjected to intense interrogation.  He then remembered that when his blindfold was removed, flash bulbs blinded his strained eyes.  He was presented to the media as the government’s prized catch.

A few minutes later, they went to a local airport and took a Manila-bound flight where he was accompanied by Gen. Ramon Montano, military escorts and a number of media.  That was Nitoy’s first time to go to Manila.  He was then committed at the Camp Crame in Quezon City where he was kept in solitary confinement for one week.

On September 1, 1989, charges of murder and frustrated murder docketed as Criminal Case Numbers Q-89-4843 and Q-89-4844 were filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 88, for the killing of Col. James Rowe and the serious wounding of his driver, Joaquin Vinuya.  The two cases were filed without preliminary investigation.

On September 8, 1989, Gen. Montano talked to him about his alleged involvement in the Rowe killing.  Nitoy retracted the statements he made in Davao.  He said he was only forced to admit the accusations against him because of the severe pain that was inflicted on him.  Donato Continente, the other suspect in the Rowe killing, failed to identify Nitoy during a brief confrontation.

During the trial, nine witnesses were presented by the prosecution.  But only one, a certain Meriam Zulueta identified Nitoy as the gunman. On cross-examination however, Zulueta admitted that her eyewitness identification was based on a single fleeting glimpse of a stranger during a startling occurrence; and that she did not have an adequate opportunity to observe the gunman’s physical feature since he was in motion when she saw him, and was holding and firing a long firearm, thus preventing her from getting a good look at him.

Aside from the testimony of Zulueta, the only evidence presented against Nitoy was his alleged extra-judicial confession, in which he purportedly admitted that he was part of a New People’s Army (NPA) assassination team responsible for the Rowe killing.  The confession was signed in the presence of a lawyer, a certain Atty. Felimon Corpuz, who later admitted when he testified in court that he was a retired military lawyer and said he was summoned not by Nitoy but by the CIS to “represent” Nitoy.

Atty. Corpuz also revealed that he was not familiar with the rights of the accused when he was unable to enumerate such rights during cross-examination.

Despite the tenuous and unreliable testimony of Zulueta, the absence of a competent and independent counsel when Nitoy allegedly confessed, and Nitoy’s confession which was made under duress, the trial court rendered an unfavorable decision.

On February 27, 1991, Nitoy and his co-accused, Continente, were found guilty by Judge Tirso D. C. Velasco of RTC-Quezon City Branch 88.  They were sentenced to life imprisonment (reclusion perpetua) plus a minimum of ten (10) years and a maximum of 17 years, four months and one day for the frustrated murder.  Both appealed the RTC decision in 1993.

On August 25, 2000, the Supreme Court (G.R. Numbers 100801-02) affirmed the conviction of Nitoy and ruled that he was the lone principal in the killing of Rowe.  Continente’s case was modified to that of an accomplice.  His jail sentence was reduced to a minimum of 12 years to a maximum of 14 years and eight months for the Rowe killing and a minimum of six months and a maximum of two years and four months for the wounding of Vinuya.  Continente therefore had an aggregate sentence of 12 years and six months as minimum and a maximum of 16 years.  After serving his sentence, he was released on June 28, 2005.

On the other hand,  the life sentence of Nitoy was retained for the Rowe killing plus another six years as minimum to nine years and six months as maximum for the Vinuya wounding.

U.S. Army Colonel James Rowe

The United States government took a great interest in the case of Nitoy.  They kept a watchful eye from the time he was arrested to his incarceration and conviction.  And it was not difficult to figure out why.  Nitoy, after all, was accused, and later convicted for the murder of Rowe, considered to be an American hero.

James Nicholas “Nick” Rowe was a graduate of the West Point Military Academy.  He later became a decorated war veteran.  He joined the United States Army’s elite Green Beret Special Force and went to Vietnam in the early 1960s.  He was one of only 34 American Prisoners of War (POWs) to escape captivity during the Vietnam War.  Rowe was assigned as Executive Officer of Detachment A-23, 5th Special Forces Group, a 12-man “A-Team” in Vietnam in 1963.  On October 29, 1963, after only three short months in Vietnam, then Lieutenant Rowe was captured by Viet Cong guerillas, along with Capt. Humberto R. Versace and Sgt. Daniel L. Pitzer.  Separated from his comrades, Lt. Rowe spent 62 months in captivity with only brief encounters with fellow American POWs.  He escaped from his Vietnamese captors on December 31, 1968.  He authored the book, “Five Years to Freedom,” an account of his years as a prisoner of war.

Rowe retired from the United States Army in 1974.  In 1981, he was recalled to active duty to design and build a course based upon his experience as a POW.

“Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape” (SERE) is now a requirement for graduation from the U.S. Army Special Forces Qualification Course.  SERE is taught at the Colonel James “Nick” Rowe Training Compound at Camp Mackall, North Carolina.

He was placed in command of the First Special Warfare Battalion at Fort Bragg in 1985.  In 1987, he was sent to the Philippines.  Rowe was assigned as Chief of the Army Division of the Joint RP – U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG).  He led a group who trained the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers on counter insurgency.  He worked closely with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on a strategy to infiltrate the ranks of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the NPA.

By February 1989, Rowe acquired intelligence information that the communists were planning a major terrorist act.  He warned Washington that a high-profile figure was about to be assassinated and that he himself was second or third on the assassination list.

On April 21, 1989, while Rowe was on his way to the JUSMAG Compound, his car was ambushed at the corner of Tomas Morato Street and Timog Avenue in Quezon City.  Gunmen who were on board an old model Toyota Corolla car suddenly fired at his car.  Rowe was instantly killed while Vinuya, his driver, was seriously wounded.  The two were initially brought to the V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City.  They were later transferred to the Clark Air Base Hospital in Pampanga where Vinuya was confined for four days.  He sustained injuries in the head, shoulder and back portion of his left hand.

Rowe was buried on May 2, 1989 in Section 48 of the Arlington National Cemetery.  Reports said that he was the highest U.S. military officer killed in the Philippines, a feat “that the United States government can hardly stomach.”

Even though the NPA owned up to the assassination, Nitoy and Continente were still arrested.

[to be continued]

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[Press Release] Rights groups commemorate Political Prisoners’ Day -TFDP

Rights groups commemorate Political Prisoners’ Day 
Call on Government to stand by its commitment to look into the plight of Political Prisoners in the country

pps day poster8 copy

On the occasion of human rights week, rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) commemorated the annual Political Prisoners’ Day last December 7, 2012 at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. Together with other human rights groups and 58 victims of political incarceration in NBP, they reiterated their call for President Benigno Aquino III to release all political prisoners.

According to Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP, the Aquino government has yet to prove its sincerity fifteen months after last year’s dialogue in response to the hunger strike undertaken by political prisoners.

“More than one year after the hunger strike for freedom and human rights, brought about by the death of Tatay Umbrero, the political prisoner who suffered and died in lung cancer, the government has not fulfilled any of its commitment,” Amistad lamented.

The political prisoners’ hunger strike that took place during President Aquino’s 2011 State of the Nation Address was lifted after almost two months when the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) went into a dialogue with human rights groups.

DOJ committed to reactivate the Presidential Committee on Bail Recognizance and Parole (PCBREP), an interagency created during the former President Fidel V. Ramos term tasked to evaluate releases for alleged political offenders.

Former President Joseph Estrada continued its existence and it was again reactivated under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that eventually released eight political prisoners in her last term of office.

Secretary Leila De Lima assigned Usec. Francisco Baraan to lead PCBREP.
“We were informed that last October PCBREP recommended five political prisoners for release. Until now their papers are pending and we fear that it will be on hold especially with government’s attitude towards the issue. We are referring to Presidential Spokesperson Lacierda’s statement that there are no political prisoners in the country,” said Amistad.

“TFDP has documented more than 300 political prisoners and detainees languishing in jails nationwide. We challenge PNoy and Secretary De Lima to stand by their commitment. Release all victims of political incarceration,” Amistad concluded.

TFDP is a national human rights organization founded in 1974 by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP).

December 7, 2012

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[Featured Video] Liwanag Sa Dilim (by Rivermaya) feat the Bilibid Dancing Inmates by Baliklaya

Liwanag Sa Dilim (by Rivermaya) feat the Bilibid Dancing Inmates

“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.” (Frederick Langbridge)

The human spirit never loses its brilliance no matter what challenges it encounters. In the face of darkness, it shines even brighter with its light igniting the light of others.

“Liwanag sa Dilim” (roughly translated in English as “Light in Darkness”) is a creative representation of the daily life of inmates in the New Bilibid Prison.

We see how one prisoner’s optimistic outlook in life can spark change in all areas of Bilibid.

We witness the talents and skills that have been developed behind bars through rehabilitative endeavors in education, sports, small enterprises, arts and crafts.

The production of this video is in line with the 10th year celebration in prison service of Baliklaya, the only student-run prison service organization in the Philippines.


Baliklaya, a non-profit, non-political, student-run group, is an applying organization of the Ateneo de Manila University. Before it became a full-pledged organization last 2009, it was the flagship program of Ateneo Lex, a separate accredited organization.


Baliklaya envisions the formation of a community composed of legally, economically, and socially-aware youth, engaged in alleviating the challenges of communities deprived of justice and fundamental human rights.


To steer its membership towards the task of nation building and to inculcate in them a strong desire for social commitment, the organization shall undertake projects which uplift the dignity, worth, and welfare of one of the most misconceived, marginalized, and impoverished sectors of Philippine society – the prisoners.


Baliklaya’s advocacy is prisoner rights, particularly that of the inmates inherent right to human dignity, realized through the organization’s various Bilibid-based prison service endeavors and intense advocacy campaign. While, in truth, any human being’s dignity can never be taken away (not by any court of justice or societal condemnation), inmates can’t help but feel a loss of dignity, because of their circumstances (the errors they have committed and the guilt that stems from such, as worsened by poor living conditions). Thus, by providing them venues for wellness development and opportunities for productivity, the organization empowers said inmates, with the hopes of restoring this lost sense of dignity.

Balik means to go back, laya is freedom. While the organization does not aim to literally free prisoners, it pursues a different sort of freedom, one that frees the prisoners from societal stereotypes and the feeling of lack of dignity.

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[In the news] De Lima: No approval for inmates’ transfer -ABS-CBN News

De Lima: No approval for inmates’ transfer
By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News
February 20, 2012

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila De Lima cannot remember authorizing the transfer of inmates from the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) to Camp General Capinpin, Rizal and Dasmarinas, Cavite.

She also did not approve any contract for catering services for the National Bilibid Prisons’ (NBP) minimum security inmates and Muntinlupa Juvenile Therapeutic Center.

De Lima issued the clarification in response to allegations made by prison guard Kabungsuan Yadao Makilala against Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Gaudencio Pangilinan.

The BuCor is an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and under its direct supervision.

Yadao filed a complaint-affidavit against Pangilinan with the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, alleging, among others, that Pangilinan authorized the transfer of some 52 inmates this month and last January to Rizal and Cavite, and authorized a contract between the BuCor and a catering service company for provisions at the minimum security compound and the juvenile center.

De Lima stressed that the BuCor Manual allows the transfer of inmates only for 3 reasons: by court order, for medical reasons, and in order to view the remains of a deceased relative.

Read full article @ www.abs-cbnnews.com

[In the news] Prisoners to work in military camps before release, says Aquino – GMA News

Prisoners to work in military camps before release, says Aquino.

January 27, 2012

 Prisoners whose jail term are about to end are now being moved to military camps a maintenance workers before they are finally released, President Benigno Aquino III said Friday.

Aquino noted the approach espouses the twin benefits of decongesting the New Bilibid Prison and serves as a half-way house to prepare inmates for a life outside prison walls.

Some prisoners will serve out their term at the Philippine Military Academy.

“Habang nababawasan nito ang pagsisiksikan sa mga selda, nagsisilbing lunsaran rin ito ng mga bilanggo upang maihanda sila sa mga hamon na kakaharapin nila sa kanilang paglaya,” the President said in a speech at the launching of the National Bureau of Corrections’ 2012 Road Map at the NBP in Muntinlupa City.

Opened in 1940, the NBP facility was designed to hold 8,700 prisoners. Its inmate population has since grown to 20,000.

“Ibig sabihin, ang seldang panlimang tao, nagiging labing-dalawa o labing-talo ang nagsisiksikan dito. Ang isang pirasong isda na sapat lang dapat na pananghalian ng isa, paghahatian pa ng tatlong magkakakosa,” Aquino noted.

Read full article @ www.gmanetwork.com

2011 Online HR advocacy campaigns in the Philippines rundown

Social networking is one of the most active web-based activities in the Philippines, with Filipinos being declared as the most active users on a number of web-based social network sites such as Facebook, Multiply , Twitter and blog,” http://en.wikipedia.org

Advocates in the Philippines never fail to utilize the digital tools in the Year 2011.

Surely we have been witness or were invited not only once by fellow Filipino human rights defenders to participate in an online campaign that aimed to mobilize collective action online and offline.

Let’s take a look one more time to a short list of the HR campaigns that made our 2011 digital world worth remembering.

4 o’clock habit campaign: prayer/appeal for Umbrero’s release

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) initiated in June 2011 the 4 o’clock habit campaign: Prayer/Appeal for Tatay Umbrero. Tatay Umbrero, was a political prisoner in New Bilibid Prison, who suffered stage 4 cancer of the lungs.

The FB and twitter posting of prayer every 4 pm was part of TFDP’s “S.O.S. Campaign” aimed to generate support and call for President Aquino’s urgent action for Tatay Umbrero’s case.

Eventually, the campaign resulted to PNoy’s issuance of Tatay Umbrero’s release, it was PNoy’s 1st executive pardon in July 19, 4 days later after Tatay Umbrero died. This has caught media attention.

The campaign continued with the political prisoners’ Hunger Strike for freedom and Human Rights that started during PNoy’s State of the Nation Address in July 25, 2011. Combined with mass actions, letter sending and dialogues the campaign pushed government to reactivate the Presidential Committee on Bail Recognizance and Pardon or PCBREP.

This was the message circulated online during that time.

S.O.S. Free Umbrero Now! Free All Political Prisoners!
Prayer for Umbrero’s release from incarceration

Almighty and Eternal God of justice and freedom,
Hear us for Your sick servant Mariano Umbrero
for whom we implore the aid of Your tender mercy
for the restoration of his bodily health.
We also pray that you touch the heart of our President
for him to use his power and influence to immediately free Umbrero from incarceration.

S.O.S. Free Umbrero Now! Free All Political Prisoners!
S.O.S. Friends Pls help Send Appeal to P-Noy for the Immediate Release of MARIANO UMBRERO! Political prisoner suffering STAGE 4 CANCER. (Details @ http://www.tfdp.net) Please post this link to http://www.facebook.com/#!/presidentnoy


“#IwantPNoyto” twitter campaign

DAKILA Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism launched a twitter campaign before PNoy’s SONA. Through the social networking site twitter hashtag #WeWantPnoyTo , they initiated the discussion for advocates about their expectations and aspirations for PNoy’s SONA2011.

It aimed to make President NoyNoy Aquino aware of the different concerns of advocates. This spread among Digital activists, as well as among members of their organizations. It became one of the 10 most trending hashtags in the Philippines during that week.


“Take down your FB profile pic in remembrance of all victims of enforced disappearance” campaign

August 30, 2011, FB profile pics disappeared and status were replaced by the message “In remembrance of the disappeared in the Philippines and around the world, whose lives, rights and freedoms were taken, please take down your profile picture on August 30,”

This has been one of the successful awareness building campaign online.

“So far, most of the Facebook participants are Filipino activists, students and media persons who have joined the meme not only to heighten awareness about those who disappeared, but also to trumpet calls for justice.

Like most memes, it is unclear who initiated the Facebook campaign. A meme is a concept or idea that spreads through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena. Internet memes are seen as cost-effective advertising or PR tools to push for buzz around a certain product or concept.”

Facebook profile pics go ‘desap’ for Int’l Day of the Disappeared
Posted on August 30 by Joseph Holandes Ubalde, InterAksyon.com

Writers Unite! 09.26.11 Blog Action Day for Climate Justice

In solidarity with the victims of typhoons Ondoy (“Ketsana”), Pepeng, Frank and all other extreme weather events and disasters of the past here in Manila and all over the Philippines, the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) and the Freelance Writers of the Philippines (FWP) called on writers/bloggers/media workers to write their literary pieces, essays, tweets and slogans on “climate justice”.

Bloggers, writers and advocates were asked to submit their contribution on September 26, 2011. Climate justice activists in the Philippines chose September 26 as it is the anniversary of Typhoon Ondoy (International Name: Ketsana), one of the most destructive storms that the Southeast Asian archipelago has ever experienced.
Based from http://climatejusticeday.wordpress.com


“I black-out my FB against power hike” campaign

In September 23, individual members of HRonlinePH.com team initiated an FB campaign called I BLACKOUT AGAINST POWER HIKE! The online FB campaign’s objective is to contribute in the National day of action, Oct.11, 7:30-8pm National Power-OFF/Lights-OFF! Campaign of the Freedom from Debt Coalition.

This was the message circulated during that month.


Noticed your electric bills?
It has started.
Power rate has gone up due to wrong policies under privatization and EPIRA.
Register your protest! BLACK OUT your profile pics and say…

FB campaign mechanics:

All Filipinos and friends around the World-Wide Web with Facebook account and wishing to register one simple act of protest against continuing hike of power rates in the Philippines are enjoined to temporarily change their profile picture with the BLACKOUT logo on October 11, 2011 from 3:00 in the afternoon to 9:00 in the evening. Let us register our voices that even as Facebookers we too are concerned NETizens and affected by the increasing power rate. Invite all your facebook friends to do an act of SOLIDARITY.


Join the National day of action, Oct.11, 7:30-8pm National Power-OFF/Lights-OFF!


Online campaign to support the first International Day to End Impunity

In September, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) launched the Online campaign to support the first International Day to End Impunity on November 23, 2011.

They promoted the slogan “Pangulong Aquino: Ilan pang mamamahayag ang kailangang mapatay? Kilos na! (President Benigno Aquino III: How many more members of media have to die? Act now to End the Killings!”. This aimed to remind PNoy of his campaign promise to address the killing of journalists (and other extrajudicial killings) in the Philippines.

The campaign invited people online to “tag” the Aquino’s communications team in social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to the slogan.

CMFR encouraged bloggers and social media users to join its IDEI Blog Action Day on Nov. 21, 2011, or two days before the actual IDEI. On Blog Action Day, bloggers and social media users wrote and discussed IDEI and issues related to the campaign.

CMFR also used the hastags #endimpunityinPH #kilosna #IDEI #Nov23 in twitter for the campaign.

Kilusang 99% Facebook page

In October of 2011, a movement in the Philippines inspired by the “We are the 99%” slogan of the “Occupy Wallstreet” campaign formed their own FB page that reached 1,272 members in a span of only 2 months.

Here is the FB note posted on the page explaining what the movement is all about, read on…

Kilusang 99%
By Renz Salazar in Kilusang 99% Facebook page

The Kilusang 99% is a local multisectoral movement composed of small people’s organizations, sectoral groups, the church, and the academe that pushes for social and political system changes. It aims to present a social reform agenda to replace the existing economic paradigms that are bereft of social justice and have spawned social inequities and social dislocation.

The movement takes inspiration from the “We are the 99%” slogan of the “Occupy Wallstreet” campaign. The call is a reference to the great inequality of wealth between the masses and the 1% elite who yields influence over the political and economic policies of countries.

Kilusang 99% pushes for a development model that is more responsive to the needs of the poor and is able to bring about sustainable, inclusive, and “people-centered” development. Concretely, it calls for the completion of agrarian reform and moratorium on land conversions, protection of the environment against extractive operations, recognition and defense of the rights of indigenous people to their ancestral domain, protection of workers against nefarious labor practices like contractualization, and provision of sustainable livelihood for the rural poor and decent housing to informal settlers, among others.

Initially conceived as a social reform movement, Kilusang 99% is being convened by CBCP-NASSA National Director Most Rev. Broderick S. Pabillo.

The movement is currently composed of organizations from labor, agrarian, coconut sector, fisherfolks, human rights advocates, urban poor, religious, and the academe.
Aside from pushing for change in the development paradigm, K99 likewise works at broadening its alliance while at the same time raising awareness and generating public support to sectoral issues.

Address poverty, inequality and injustices with a new development paradigm by:
1. Making the poor the center of development;
2. Restoring dignity and power to the people;
3. Making social reform a national agenda;
4. Exacting accountability from public officials;
5. Safeguarding the public commons
Posted October 30 2011


“People’s Manhunt” for Jovito Palparan online campaign

HR group Karapatan intensified their campaign which they tagged as “People’s Manhunt” for Jovito Palparan. They asked users of social networking site Facebook, to post a “wanted” poster of the retired general as their profile picture in December 23, 2011.

Palparan was charged with three others for the abduction and disappearance of University of the Philippines students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.

The campaign  started after Palparan was prevented by immigration officials from leaving the country and went into hiding early this week because of the warrant of arrest issued against him by the court.

“The internet is a venue for supporting many causes including this very important quest for justice of the mothers of the two disappeared UP students. All netizens are enjoined to post this poster on their profiles to make known to internet users the face and name of this notorious human rights violator and seek information on his whereabouts to cause his immediate arrest,” said Cristina Palabay, convenor of End Impunity Alliance, a network of victims of human rights violations, rights defenders and civil libertarians.


One for Iligan

After flashfloods caused by the typhoon Sendong struck Iligan City and Cagayan De Oro in December 17, many of our fellow Filipinos utilized the online media to campaign for help. One of these was initiated by a group of bloggers called iliganbloggers.com.

Read on…

ONE FOR ILIGAN campaign for the victims of typhoon Sendong in Iligan City was first conceptualized by the Iligan Bloggers Society, Inc. and went viral online. This movement is realized by generating enough funds online and use it to provide immediate needs for the victims. The One for Iligan movement is for all Iliganons, Filipinos, and people with big hearts to give as little as a dollar for the victims for Typhoon Sendong .
Excerpts from http://iliganbloggers.com/


Boycot PAL

Early in November after Philippine Air Lines refused to board a PALEA member and her family despite holding tickets for the Los Angeles-Manila flight because she was supposedly on “blacklist of PALEA members,” and the harassment of PAL hired goons to protesting workers in their picket line, Partido ng Manggawa, PALEA and their National and International partners, networks and allies launched a campaign called “Boycot PAL.”

The group utilized FB and other online tools to propagate their campaigns aiming to put pressure on PAL to open negotiations with PALEA to end the labor dispute and ask people not to fly PAL and AirPhil until the PALEA’s demand for employees to return to their regular jobs are met.

The following are the reasons of their campaign stated in their FB page, read on…

5 Reasons to Boycott PAL and AirPhil
1 Corporate greed: PAL retrenched 2,600 employees despite earning more than PhP 3 billion last year. For every PAL employee turned into a contractual in the service providers, Lucio Tan and PAL earn PhP 4 million for the next ten years or more than PhP 10 billion for all 2,600 employees affected. Lucio Tan is the second richest Pinoy but wants to get even wealthier via contractualization.

2 Union busting: PALEA has sacrificed for the last 13 years with the suspension in collective bargaining negotiations, from which PAL has benefited by an early exit from rehabilitation. But when negotiations were due to start in 2009, PAL announced the outsourcing plan which resulted in the terminated of 70% of PALEA’s membership and 60% of its leadership.

3 Human rights violations: PALEA members protesting the outsourcing plan last September 27 were forcibly evicted from Terminal 2 and other PAL offices leading to injuries to employees including women who were bodily taken out by PAL security guards. Further, two attempts have been made to violently disperse the PALEA protest camp. The latest daybreak attack led to injuries to seven PALEA members and the arrest of one of the hired goons who confessed to been paid by management.

4 Labor code violations: The latest among the many violations of the Labor Code by PAL and Lucio Tan exposed during the labor dispute is that the supposed independent service providers Sky Logistics and Sky Kitchen are actually illegal labor-only contractors. These dummy companies do not have its own equipment and depend upon facilities of PAL such as the In-Flight Center.

5 Safety and service compromised: Untrained and overworked scabs are now operating PAL flights resulting in numerous complaints by passengers over delays, disruptions and deterioration in service. Long lines at check-in counters and food in lunch boxes are some obvious examples. Further, unlicensed and inexperienced trainees working the ground handling are a flight risk.

If Lucio Tan succeeds in contractualization at PAL, our jobs are next. Ang laban ng PALEA ay laban ng lahat! Defend Job Security at PAL. Promote Regular Jobs for All.


This is just a short list among the so many online human rights activities that took place in 2011. We are definitely sure that there are still more out there in the world wide web that relatively succeed in touching our lives in one way or another. It’s 2012, another year to look forward to a healthy, creative, inspiring, moving and relevant online activism. We’ve been tagged as the world’s social networking capital so why not stand and be more aggressive in occupying the cyberspace for human rights in the years to come.

[Event] Human Rights Day with PALEA workers – PAHRA

HRDs and Advocates !

Human Rights Day with PALEA workers
October 6, 2:00 – 6:00 pm

Venue: In Flight Catering Center , MIA Road, Terminal II near Nayong Pilipino


Ø Forum on Right to Work

Ø Film Showing

Ø HR materials booth

Ø Solidarity statements

Please bring your statement of support and HR materials for distribution.

Contact Persons:
TFDP – Egay  0921-964-5017
PAHRA –  Fred  0927-866-5354

[Press Release] Civil Society to PNoy: Eradicate the shadows of Martial Law by releasing political prisoners and ending impunity

A day before the commemoration of Martial Law, leaders of civil society organizations urged President Benigno Aquino III to permanently eradicate the dark shadows of atrocities that Filipinos experienced under the authoritarian rule by starting with the release of all political prisoners, giving justice to victims of human rights violations and ending impunity.

“‘Tuldukan na ang labi ng pampulitikang panunupil’.  President Aquino should eradicate the remnants of political repression and broaden the base of Philippine democracy by releasing all political prisoners.  No better legacy can the President bequeath than implementing the principles to combat and end impunity,” Max de Mesa, Chairperson of PAHRA said.

Leaders of the two broadest formations of human rights defenders, the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC), gathered in a restaurant in Quezon City to reaffirm their unified campaign against political detention and challenged President Aquino to stand on his parent’s legacy.

“The best way to commemorate Martial Law is to celebrate its downfall.  By reminding the public especially the youth that in those dark years of our history, there were men and women of courage who stood and fought against the dictator, there were human rights defenders who remained steadfast despite the harassments and killings, and freedom fighters who either were killed, disappeared, tortured or detained. The best way to remember martial law is to banish its vestiges in our midst –  stop human rights violations and end impunity,” Ricardo Reyes, Chairperson of FDC, said.

According to the group they pledged to pursue the demands of the political prisoners’ hunger strike for freedom and human rights that took place during the July 25 State of the Nation Address of President Aquino.

The protest ended indefinitely after 23 days when the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Malacanang  committed in a dialogue to convene the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon (PCBREP), draft a National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) and proceed with prison reforms.

PCBREP was the Government’s inter-agency body created during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos. DoJ is to spearhead its process and evaluation for the release of alleged political offenders.

According to Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), a member of PAHRA, “We are holding on to the promise of Secretary Leila De Lima to convene PCBREP by this month.  We hope that it would start the process as soon as possible and give the political prisoners the freedom they deserve. Nitoy Itaas who has been in jail for 22 years and the more than 300 political prisoners and detainees languishing in jails nationwide are clamoring for this.”

According to TFDP’s record, there were thousands who were detained during Martial Law and while presently we only have more than 300 languishing in jails nationwide, this shows that political incarceration still persists.

“We kept on reminding the president that his parents, specifically Ninoy was one of the defenders of democracy who fell victim under Marcos, he was a political detainee who was jailed because of his being a staunch critic of a military-backed political dictatorship and he was one of the inspirations that sparked the movement of the people to oust the dictator,” continued Amistad.

The group challenged President Aquino to, “Make public the information of victims of enforced disappearances and of other gross violation of human rights. Affirm that human rights become the preferred values that guide your governance and development efforts.
For more information please contact:

Egay Cabalitan: 09219645017
Judy Miranda: 09228677522
Rose Trajano: 09393874658

[Press Release] DOJ to reconstitute PCBREP to review the release of political prisoners – www.tfdp.net

In a meeting between the human rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and the Department of Justice this Friday, Secretary Leila De Lima formally ordered the reconvening of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon (PCBREP) to start the review for the release of political prisoners in the country.

“We welcome DOJ’s decision to reconstitute PCBREP as a concrete mechanism to act on the releases of political prisoners in the country.  It was one of the concrete actions from the government to look into the plight of the political prisoners which the hunger strikers have been calling for,” Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP said.

According to Amistad, the political prisoners in the New Bilibid Prison decided to suspend their 24 day hunger strike indefinitely last August 17 to give way to the dialogue between human rights groups and the government led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and facilitated by the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) last August 16 in Malacanang.

USec. Francisco Baraan pledged in the August 16 dialogue to recommend the immediate reconstitution of PCBREP to Secretary Leila De Lima who eventually informed TFDP during their meeting on Aug 19, Friday, that she finally ordered the PCBREP to reconvene immediately no later than September this year with USec Baraan as its head to start the review process.

“The hunger strike has paved the way for government’s prompt action and we commend DOJ for immediately acting on our appeal.  The political prisoners can now hope that they be given attention and their freedom be acted upon by the government. We don’t want another Tatay Umbrero who suffered government’s inability and failure to act immediately, ” said Sister Crescencia Lucero, sfic, Deputy Executive Director of TFDP.

The August 16 dialogue also resulted to the upcoming review of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) guidelines on granting executive clemency and other matters like prison reforms. This has been brought about by the unfortunate incident of Mariano Umbrero, the cancer-stricken political prisoner who died four days before President Aquino signed his executive clemency last July.

“The political prisoners know this will not be the end of our continuous struggle for their freedom.  We need to persevere and closely monitor the process of PCBREP.  The human rights community, supporters and their relatives will be more active in pursuing justice and freedom for all victims of political detention in the country and assert that the government must be sincere in acting on their concerns,” Amistad concluded.

There are now 306 political prisoners languishing in jails nationwide according to TFDP documentation as of August 2011. ###

August 21, 2011


[Press Release] Gen. Danilo Lim visits hunger strikers at NBP, joins call for release of political prisoners – Partido ng Manggagawa

Former Scout Ranger commander and an ex-political detainee himself, Gen. Danilo Lim, is joining the human rights community led by the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), representatives of the Comission on Human Rights, and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action –Justice and Peace (CBCP-NASSA) in a visit this afternoon to political prisoners at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) who are now on their 23rd day of hunger strike.

Gen. Danilo Lim. File photo en.wikipilipinas.org

Gen. Danilo Lim. File photo en.wikipilipinas.org

Joining Lim is another ex-political detainee, Nilo Tayag, who is now a bishop of the Philippine Independent Church (IFI).

On Saturday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged President Benigno Aquino III to free political prisoners through an executive clemency especially for those who have already served their long and unjust sentences.

Partido ng Manggaga renewed its call for President Aquino to end the sufferings of the remaining political prisoners, many of them had been convicted on false charges of common crimes.

One of the hunger strikers, Juanito Itaas, was in jail since 1989 for the assassination of US Col. James Rowe, a charged he vehemently denied.  In prison for 22 years, Itaas is now considered one of the longest serving political detainee in the world, next to Nelson Mandela who was imprisoned for 27 years for sabotage and high treason.  According to reports, Israel is holding the longest serving political prisoner, a Palestinian, who is serving his 34th year in prison.

According to Gen Lim, he and Itaas once shared the same prison compound as he was also detained in connection to the 1989 coup.  Itaas is now leading the hunger strike for freedom at the NBP.

On Sunday night, two more hunger strikers, Diony Sarad and Tendero Fuentes were brought to the NBP Infirmary for severe abdominal pain.  Doctors from the Medical Action Group (MAG) who joined today’s visit are looking into the health condition of the hunger strikers.

The groups were still hopeful that President Aquino would finally heed their appeal for clemency since political prisoners are not hardened criminals who warrant continued imprisonment for life.

Human rights groups was also set to have a dialogue with the Presidential Human Rights Commission (PHRC) at Malacanang this afternoon.  Another dialogue with the Department of Justice is scheduled this coming Friday.
Partido ng Manggagawa
16 August 2011

[Press Release] Malacañang meets with supporters and relatives of Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike – www.tfdp.net

Dialogue @ Malakanyang for politial prisoners' hunger strike. Photo by TFDP

Dialogue @ Malakanyang for politial prisoners' hunger strike. Photo by TFDP

On the 23rd day of political prisoners’ hunger strike protest, Malacañang finally meets with members of civil society organizations to discuss the plight of the more than 300 political prisoners in the country.

“Finally Malacañang has decided to look into the plight of political prisoners languishing in jails nationwide.  We hope that this dialogue results in the revival of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon and the speedy processing of the release of political prisoners,” Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) said.

Read more

[In the news] Bishops urge Aquino to release striking political prisoners- Inquirer.net

Bishops urge Aquino to release striking political prisoners
By Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Saturday urged President Benigno Aquino III to free political prisoners who have been on a hunger strike for the past three weeks in different prisons in the country.

In a statement, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, head of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace, urged Mr. Aquino to grant executive clemency to the prisoners, who were linked to the communist insurgency.

“We appeal to the President to grant executive clemency to political detainees who have already served long and completely unjust sentences. May he accede to the humanitarian character of this appeal and make progress toward the full respect for human rights in the Philippines,” Pabillo said.

Read full article @ Inquirer.net

[Statement] “Proclaim liberty to the captives… Set free the Oppressed” – CBCP-NASSA

Bp. Broderick Pabillo. File photo source: cbcpnews.com

Bp. Broderick Pabillo. File photo source: cbcpnews.com

“Proclaim liberty to the captives… Set free the Oppressed” A Statement of Concern on the Plight of Political Prisoners in the Country (13 August 2011)

Nearly three weeks ago, July 25, hundreds of political detainees around the country began a synchronized hunger strike to protest the government’s inadequate agenda on human rights protection and its seeming disregard of the conditions of political prisoners.

Since the early ‘80s, more than 300 political prisoners have been languishing in prison cells throughout the country without explicit assurance of judicial remedy or executive clemency. Some of whom have already died or gotten ill in custody as a direct result of the government’s inability to provide for their medical treatment. The circumstances of neglect and eventual demise of some of these prisoners qualify as violations against human dignity and protection.
Read more

[Literary/Tula] “BALABAL NG KALAYAAN” – Noel C. Evangelista

Picket at DOJ Aug 1, 2011. Photo by Rommel Yamzon

Para sa mga Bilanggong Pulitikal na kasalukuyang naka hunger strike upang hilingin ang kanilang kalayaan sa Pangulong Aquino
Posted in FB by Estrellita Evangelista on Thursday, August 11, 2011


Lamig ng simoy ng hangin
Ay hindi madama
Sa silid na yaon
Ningning ng tala ay di Makita
Pawis ay dumadaloy
Hanggang sa tungki ng ilong
Di man lang maipikit
Mga matang may piring

Ahhhh… nanlalatang katawan
Lakas ay naglaho na
Dinig din ang pagbukas ng pinto
Tanda na sila ay narito na
Ilang araw na nga ba
Sa silid na ito’y nakapiit
Dina mabilang
Mga araw na may hapis
Read more

[Blogger] I Blog for Human Rights – anthonygaupo.wordpress.com

I never really expected myself to go beyond what I thought will not happen in my blogging career. My blogging life was really meant for personal matters only. I just wanna write all the things that are happening in my life. Unexpectedly and in God’s will, a top blogging site in Philippines happened to invite me in the forming of network of bloggers. And I feel so privileged and honored that a new young blogger like me was given this chance to be part of their network.

HRonlinePH, a Human Rights Portal, was making a network of bloggers to contribute write ups, blogs, opinions, etc. for the promotion of Human Rights and to also create awareness to every readers. I believe we were all called because we have a duty to do. What all happened during the gathering has a purpose that should start from us. Like what the Lasallian prayer says, “let us start the change we want to see, the change that begins in me.”

Read full article @ anthonygaupo.wordpress.com

[Press Release] Human rights groups to P-Noy: Now Not Later is the Time to Act on Human Rights

PNoy Act Now! Before its too late again. Photo by John Alster Soriano/MAG

Rights groups to P-Noy: Act Now! Before its too late again. The group gave him a wristwatch to symbolize their call for action on HRVs. Photo by John Alster Soriano/MAG

Human rights violations are spreading out from Central Luzon to Basilan, where cases of torture and extrajudicial killings have begun to pile up, President Benigno S. Aquino III should now act and take concrete steps to resolve the human rights violations attributed to state security forces in pursuance of internal security policies, and to free all political prisoners unconditionally, human rights groups and non-government organizations said.
Read more

[Blogger] A Desaparecido to a Political Prisoner by anakngdesaparecidos.wordpress.com

I am daughter of a desaparecido, but I was also a daughter of political prisoner.

Years ago, when I was still unconscious of how the society works; when all I know in life was toys and games; I saw my father in the news raising his fist up high. I asked my aunts what was happening and they just said that my father was now a super star.  Amusing but I know it was never like that. The next thing I knew, I never saw my father again. Not until we visited him in Camp Crame. Not behind bars but still confine.

I am my Papa’s girl. And not being able to play with him was in no way easy. What more writing letter of how much you want to go to the zoo? Of how great you are in school? Of how much you miss him? Of when is he coming home? I was eight back then and still, I asked them where my father is? Lies were thrown at me that he was just working and can’t come home. Lies for I was too young to understand.  To young to know.  After a few months he was released.

But fate decided not to be good to our family. For after four years he was again taken from us. This time, we really have look hard for we don’t know where he is exactly. From hospital to morgue, to precinct to military camps. Mama was restless and scared. We are restless and scared. At twelve, I was still young. But old enough to know that it happened before. Old enough to understand and to know what was going on.

Read full article @ anakngdesaparecidos.wordpress.com



  • Ever since the decision of Mr. Benigno Simeon Aquino III to run as the 15th president of the Republic of the Philippines, he fails to provide the Filipino people with a concrete human rights agenda.
  • The fact remains that on major occasions, where the president should have drawn a roadmap on how his government would fair on human rights, the whole country is left hanging.
  • All we have heard are promises on specific issues under a paradigm of anti-corruption: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” (without corruption, there’s no poverty). Its framework of good governance is packaged on this slogan (corruption); alleviating it to be the “end-all” and “be-all” of what has and will become of the Philippines.
  • During the campaign period 2010 the Philippine human rights community had asked all presidential candidates of their human rights agenda. The Aquino camp had only promised in a traditional political fashion to incorporate human rights agenda in its governance.

From the moment Noynoy Aquino started his bid for the presidency until his oath taking into office, The Philippine Online Chronicles has compiled 24 promises from the various sorties Aquino had attended to. These are the following:

1. Expand irrigation development program
2. Probe 2004 vote rigging
3. Scrap GMA’s flagship programs
4. Upgrade army and increase defense spending
5. Closure to extrajudicial killings
6. No favors to allies and supporters
7. Strictly enforce environmental laws
8. Make Freedom of Information (FOI )bill his administration’s priority
9. Streamline government approval processes
10. Adjust government pay scale
11. No to Dictatorship
12. Safer sources of renewable energy
13. Population management via responsible parenthood
14. Charter change only via constitutional convention
15. Create jobs at home, reject overseas employment as development strategy
16. No new or increase in taxes
17. Distribute Hacienda Luisita to Farmers
18. Justice for Massacre Victims
19. Renew peace talks and decades-long insurgencies
20. Investigate Gloria Arroyo
21. Avoid foreign trips
22. A Lean, Graft-free Government
23. A holistic and comprehensive public health care system
24. To Quit Smoking if he wins

  • True enough, in his inaugural speech he warned on the abuse of power by government officials. This signaled his slogan “ang matuwid na daan” (the straight path) with war against corruption as the centerpiece of his administration.

Viewing some of them from the perspective of human rights, one could say at least, there are some possibilities that his administration would champion human rights as a guidepost of his anti-corruption slogan. Especially, if we take to heart his pronouncements during his inaugural address:

1. Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.’ Ito ang mga prinsipyong tinatayuan at nagsisilbing batayan ng ating administrasyon. (If there are no corrupt, there are no empoverished prople. This is the principle and basis of my administration.)

2. de-kalidad na edukasyon, kabilang ang edukasyong bokasyonal para makapaghanap ng marangal na trabaho ang hindi makapag-kolehiyo; (Quality education, including vocational courses in aid of searching for dignified work for those unable to pursue higher/college education.)

3. serbisyong pangkalusugan tulad ng PhilHealth para sa lahat sa loob ng tatlong taon; (Health services like PhilHealth for all in three year time.)

4. Tirahan sa loob ng mga ligtas na komunidad. (Housing in safer communities.)

5. Kung dati ay may fertilizer scam, ngayon ay may kalinga nang tunay para sa mga magsasaka. Tutulungan natin sila sa irigasyon, extension services, at sa pagbenta ng kanilang produkto sa pinakamataas na presyong maaari. (While there was fertilizer scam before, now genuine services for all peasants.  Let’s help by providing them irrigation, extension services, and capabilities to sell their products to much higher possible prices.)

6. There can be no reconciliation without justice. Sa paglimot ng pagkakasala,sinisigurado mong mauulit muli ang mga pagkakasalang ito. (By simply forgetting the past wrongs doings, they are surely be repeated again.)

7. We are committed to a peaceful and just settlement of conflicts, inclusive of the interests of all – may they be Lumads, Bangsamoro or Christian.

8. We shall defeat the enemy by wielding the tools of justice, social reform and equitable governance leading to a better life.

However, to compare these to his 10-point governance agenda (campaign platform), one can deduce them as mere band-aids to temporarily stop the bleeding of resources both human and natural.  Below are some broad strokes in his agenda which are Human Rights related:

Job creation – more on skill development thru TESDA and infrastructure building.

Mindanao – resumption of peace talks; Internal Refugees.

Reforms in the Judiciary – more on administrative/personnel build-up rather than incorporation of human rights frame into the current criminal justice system.

Education – for competitive advantage; infrastructure.

Health – philhealth for everyone; infrastructure.

Housing – in-city/on-site relocation. o Agrarian reform – irrigation; infrastructure.

All of these are packaged under anti-corruption campaign for social services which pre-supposes that internal systems within government departments are alright and policy-guidelines are adequate. It is no wonder that in his SONA ng “matuwid na daan”, there is:

No statement on the Human Security Act
No statement of legislations pending during the 14th congress on Extra-Judicial Killings, Enforced Disappearance, the Right to Information Bill, etc…
One liner on Extra-Judicial Killings during the post Arroyo administration and none on the EJKs during the previous administrations.
Nothing on enforced disappearances

Where are we now in 2011(HR perspective): Read full article @ FREE ZONE

[Press Release] Labor group hopeful of the release of political prisoners as peace talks make headway – Partido ng Manggagawa

The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) is hopeful the release of political prisoners can be made possible as conditions for the resumption of peace negotiations with the country’s rebel groups get a boost from the Tokyo meeting between President Benigno S. Aquino III and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“We hope that political prisoners reap the early gains from the improving environment for peace talks”, stated PM secretary-general Judy Ann Miranda.

PM together with the members of the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA) trooped to the Department of Justice this morning to press for the release of all political prisoners.

Miranda said political prisoners should be considered by the government as “beneficiaries” of peace even prior to the conclusion of final peace agreements with the revolutionary movements.

“In fact an act of magnanimity can be extended by the government to political prisoners even without the peace talks as many of them have already served their full sentences from many years of detention,” argued Miranda, citing the case of Juanito Itaas who had been serving prison terms since 1989.

There are still more than 300 political prisoners languishing in different jails all over the country according to human rights groups.  All of them were accused of having links with either the communist or separatist movements but were held for as common criminals.

Political prisoners at the National Bilibid Prison went on hunger strike since President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) to appeal for their immediate and unconditional release.   After the dialogue with human rights groups and DOJ officials last week, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered prison officials to look into the conditions of the hunger strikers.

Partido ng Manggagawa
08 August 2011
Contact:  Judy Ann Miranda

[Press Release] Health of political prisoners in NBP deteriorating as they approach the 12th day of their hunger strike

Photo by Rommel Yamzon/TFDP

Six (6) of the political prisoners holding their hunger strike in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City were rushed to the NBP hospital this Thursday as they approached the 12th day of their self starvation protest for their release.

According to the rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), the hunger strikers who were rushed to the hospital were Rodel Alcon, Edgar Apolona, Apolonio Barado, Diony Sarad, Bas Esmael and Christopher Balneg.

“They are already experiencing the effect of having no intake of food for almost two weeks now.  The NBP doctors regularly check on their health condition and had been advising Apolonio Barado to stop his hunger strike due to his unstable health condition, but he insists on pursuing.  They are all persistent and they want the government to start listening to their plea for freedom,” said Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP.

The hunger strike protest was triggered by the death of their co-inmate Mariano Umbrero last July 15, 2011.  Umbrero was the cancer-stricken political prisoner who was eventually given clemency by President Aquino four days after his death.

The prisoners’ hunger strike started last July 25, 2011 coinciding with President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). The protest action calls for the release of all political prisoners, prison reforms particularly amendment of the Board of Pardons and Parole guidelines and to draft and issue a clear National human rights program.

According to the group, the hunger strikers’ blood pressures are already getting critical to the point of 90/40 based on NBP Doctor’s check up.

Barado and Alcon have already been given dextrose while they refused confinement and continue with their hunger strike.

“We call on President Aquino and DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima to act on the appeal of the political prisoners immediately before it’s too late again, just like what happened to Tatay Umbrero,” Amistad added.

The group is also waiting and following-up the Department of Justice (DOJ) USec. Francisco Baraan’s pledge during their picket last August 1, 2011, regarding a dialogue with Secretary Leila De Lima to discuss the political prisoners’ concerns.

August 5, 2011

For more information please contact:

Egay Cabalitan Jr.
Advocacy Staff
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Mobile number: 09219645017
Tel: 437 8054

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