“Proclaim liberty to the captives… Set free the Oppressed”
A Statement of Concern on the Plight of Political Prisoners in the Country
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.
The National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace expresses deep concern over the condition of the political detainees, especially those on hunger strike. Three weeks without food will have surely and rapidly deteriorated their conditions. We wish to solicit the immediate action of the government to prevent unnecessary deaths.
We also denounce the underhanded conduct of law enforcement agencies that oftentimes criminalize the legitimate struggle of some groups and individuals.
We call on the judiciary to expedite the process of review of the detainees’ cases and grant the immediate and unconditional release of those whose arrests are deemed to be politically-motivated.
President Aquino abstractedly speaks about improvements in human rights situation in the country. The call for a clear human rights framework by the political detainees is a judicious opportunity for him to demonstrate his sincerity to uphold peace and national reconciliation.
We appeal to the President to grant executive clemency on political detainees who have already served long and completely unjust sentences. May he accede to the humanitarian character of this appeal and make progress towards the full respect of human rights in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, we express solidarity to the struggle of our political prisoners. We wish to assure them that the Church, as it has always done so in the past, will always defend human rights and the sacredness of life as stated in the Gospel.
+ BRODERICK S. PABILLO