Monday, August 1, 2011

Labor group to P-Noy: Do a Cory, free all political prisoners

On Cory Aquino's death anniversary, militants rally at DOJ to call on PNoy to release all political prisoners
01 August 2011

President Benigno S. Aquino III “can do a Cory” by ordering the unconditional release of all remaining political prisoners (PPs), the labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) said in a statement as the country commemorates the second death anniversary of the former President.

PM joined the families of political prisoners in a rally held this morning at the Department of Justice organized by human rights groups to press for the release of all the remaining political prisoners in the country.

“Giving political prisoners a chance for new life is a good way of remembering his mother  who was credited for ordering the unconditional release of all political detainees during her time,” said PM secretary-general Judy Ann Miranda.

PM leaders visited the political prisoners at NBP’s Building 11 yesterday. Miranda said ten (10) political prisoners led by Juanito Itaas, the longest-serving political prisoner in the country, are still on full hunger strike while others are on sympathy fasting.

The labor group likewise urged Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to include this issue on top of her many priorities as she had promised to during her dialogue with the political prisoners sometime in 2009 when she was still the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights. 

All of the more than 300 political prisoners in the country were jailed for non-bailable crimes such as murder and kidnapping rather than for political offenses related to their political activities.   Itaas for instance was implicated for the murder of US Col. James Rowe 22 years ago.  He was arrested in 1989 in Davao City. 

Like Itaas, most of the political prisoners are ordinary farmers who were accused of being NPA rebels and were locked up for life on trump-up charges.

“They have suffered enough.  Many of our political prisoners have in fact served in full their life sentences and therefore are already qualified for unconditional pardon,” concluded Miranda.

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