An open letter to Philippine President Noynoy Aquino
on the 63rd International Human Rights Day
We, political prisoners in Central Visayas, join our 365 other compatriots in various detention centers across the country in launching a hunger strike to underscore our just demand to an end to the policy of political persecution and for the release of all political prisoners.
We timed this protest action in line with the world-wide observance of 63rd International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, 2011, in order to emphasize the cruel irony of celebrating the height of praise for human dignity even as political activists like ourselves are arrested and tortured under the shadows of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In fact, the premier human rights alliance KARAPATAN has bared that 77 of the 365 political prisoners in your jails were arrested under your barely two-year old reign. Fifty-five activists have been executed, including Fr. Pops Tentorio, eight were disappeared and over 4, 224 individuals dislocated in the aftermath of military operations. In Central Visayas, 57 incidents of abuse were documented by KARAPATAN, including the brutal mass arrest of protesting farmers, mostly elderly and women, in Aloguinsan, Cebu.
In so short a time, the intensity and visciousness of the attacks on human rights are reaching alarming levels. It is even more disturbing that they are occuring under the aegis of your Oplan BAYANIHAN, a mutative replica of Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya, which you vowed during your election campaign to junk.
And as in your electoral campaign pitch to bring justice to victims of Arroyo’s militarism, we now demand for an end to political persecution, justice to the victims and release of all political prisoners.
May we remind you, Mr. President, of your avowed commitment, as presented by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, that you will effect our release twelve months ago.
May we also reiterate your signed obligations to the peace negotiation with the NDF to hasten the release of a significatnt number of the 13 consultants, staff and others involved in the said negotiations.
On humanitarian grounds, you should also prioritize the release of the more than 60 elderly and sickly political prisoners, two of whom, namely: Mariano Umbrero and Crisanto Fat recently died in incarceration at National Bilibid Prisons and Negros Occidental Provincial Jail, respectively.
Mr. President, for the sake of justice and democatic values your parents hold dear, end political persecution and free all political prisoners now!
Joint Statement of political prisoners in Central Visayas:
Alberto Acerdin Alison Alcantara Danny Badayos
Danao City Jail Talisay City Jail Dumaguete City Jail
Ricky de la Cruz Ramon Patriarca Florencio Quino
Dumaguete City Jail Danao City Jail Bohol Provincial Jail