Arrest the Thief and Murderer Imelda Marcos!
Release All Political Prisoners!
November 13, 2018
When peasant Bernabe Ocasla, 66, was brought to a hospital in November 2016, he had already been detained for nine years for fabricated charges. He had a cardiac arrest while incarcerated at the Manila City Jail, and yet even in the hospital, his jail guards kept him handcuffed to his bed and didn’t allow the nurses and his relatives to change his yellow shirt for “fear” that he might escape. Ocasla died on November 30, 2016, after he suffered another cardiac arrest and had been in a coma.
Human rights worker and peasant Gerardo dela Pena was 74 when he was wrongly convicted in a Bicol court. He was arrested by the 49th Infantry Battalion in Brgy. Matango, Vinzons, Camarines Norte on March 21, 2013 and charged with false cases of murder along with five other John Does. He was detained at the provincial jail for more than a year and was immediately brought to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City on July 2014 after his conviction. He said he was given only one chance to speak in court and was convicted shortly after his case was heard. He is enduring hypertension and cataract while in detention.
Tatay Gerry is the former chairman of SELDA and also a member of Karapatan-Camarines Norte. He was detained for a year during martial law and was charged with robbery in band. He was released in 1983.
On February 12, 2017, peace consultant and Bayan Metro Manila officer Ferdinand Castillo was illegally arrested and subjected to physical and psychological torture. His captors from the police and military planted false evidence against him to justify charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. He is now 59, and is currently suffering from rheumatic heart disease and hypertension, among other ailments.
We can go on and on. In fact, three more peace consultants – Vicente Ladlad, Adelberto Silva, Rafael Baylosis – all elderly and sick, were arrested without any consideration on due process and their medical conditions. As of September 2018, out of the 517 political prisoners, there are 40 elderly and 115 sick political prisoners facing fabricated charges.
Throughout the years, there was no statement whatsoever that the Philippine National Police hesitated on arresting and jailing these activists and peace advocates because they are old and sick. No “humanitarian consideration” was given in the manner of their arrest; many were even denied of timely medical assistance.
Yet in the past few days, the PNP and some government officials suddenly found their “humanitarian” character when Imelda Marcos, a woman who was literally the partner in crime of her late dictator-husband in looting public coffers and in killing and maiming thousands, was convicted of seven counts of graft. They suddenly have become spokespersons of the thieves known as the Marcos family, bargaining on behalf of a convicted thief.
Karapatan decries this prevalent, longstanding and increasingly blatant double standard used by government authorities in dealing with the arrest of convicted plunderer Imelda Marcos. Such acts starkly show the abominable and broken justice system in the Philippines.
When rich fascists and corrupt officials are made to pay for their crimes, they easily get off the hook by exerting their political and moneyed connections to make themselves comfortable and immune from accountability. When political prisoners and the common tao are accused of false or lesser offenses, nag-uunahan pa ang mga pulis at iba pa sa gobyerno na magbigay ng maling katwiran nila sa mga aresto.
The Philippines has become such a cesspool of injustice especially under the Duterte regime, a government that had no humanitarian consideration in killing the poor and even children, a government that had no humanitarian consideration in arbitrarily arresting, torturing, and raping individuals in police or military custody.
For the longest time, it was and it is the Filipino people who have made these arrogant and incorrigible tyrants accountable for their grave crimes. And we will continue to do so, as long as injustice and unpeace prevail.
Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Roneo “Jigs” Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, 09997721233