Relaunching of KAPATID

Ang organization of families and friends of political prisoners, first organized in 1978.
PARDEC Hall, Commission on Human Rights, Quezon City
June 15, 2019



Welcome Message for KAPATID Relaunching

By Fides Lim, Board Member of KAPATID
15 June 2019

Fides Lim

Kaming mga pamilya ng mga bilanggong pulitikal ay bumabati sa inyong lahat ng isang magandang umaga. Buong pusong nagpapasalamat kami na pinaunlakan ninyo ang aming imbitasyon na samahan kami sa panibagong pagtatatag ng KAPATID.

Today is very significant for us families of political prisoners. I’d like to call it not only a day of action but a day of colors. We come today clad in white to assert the uprightness and innocence of our loved ones in relation to the fabricated charges painting them as common criminals, and the integrity of their commitment. Our streamer here in front has another three colors—yellow and orange for the T-shirt uniforms issued to prisoners, who include the 536 political prisoners imprisoned for their political beliefs; the blue in the streamer symbolizes the freedom of the sky that we yearn for our imprisoned relatives.

We smile today in front of you but our hearts cry in anguish. The recent conviction of Marklen Maoj Maga, husband of Lengua and father of 10-year-old Liboy, on the ludicrous charge of illegal possession of firearms while playing basketball, was a big blow to each one of us. We fear that this verdict may befall our own loved ones. In my case, I try not to think so much if my own activist husband, Vic Ladlad, who turned 70 just last April 5 and whose lungs are wracked by emphysema, will ever step out of prison, alive.

But like the roses handcrafted by political prisoners, we, their relatives, are also the color of love, energy, courage, and struggle. Because we love, we know how to fight. Today, June 15, we, the families of political prisoners stand up and fight, and reclaim an organization that has lain dormant for 25 years, yet which also has a total of 41 years since its founding year in 1978 at the height of martial law, working for the release of political prisoners.

On my part, this is my second coming, so to speak, to KAPATID. I was last part of this organization in 1990–1992 when I was an officer of its National Executive Committee. Vic and I were arrested in July 1990 and after my quick release, I joined KAPATID.

Today, we, who have banded together to reorganize KAPATID, now seek your support for the following objectives that will chart our main courses of action:

1. To work together for the release of all political prisoners;
2. To promote the basic rights and welfare of political prisoners, including ensuring proper legal assistance for their cases as well as humane treatment;
3. To build the broadest support for political prisoners through information and education, welfare and services, organization and campaign, and national and international solidarity; and
4. To move for affirmative action and reforms in relation to laws, policies, measures, and instrumentalities that transgress human rights and engender the historical phenomenon of political prisoners.

In line with these key objectives, we are launching a three-pronged campaign to lobby for the immediate release of particular political prisoners on strong legal, humanitarian, and just grounds:

1. Of the 71 convicted political prisoners, some of whom have been languishing in prison for 20 to 30 years, a number have already served their minimum sentence and are long overdue for parole, pardon, or commutation of sentence. We seek an immediate government review of their cases and press speedy action, even as we also seek the reversal of the unjust conviction of Marklen Maoj Maga.

2. Four sick political prisoners have already died during the Duterte regime. We seek the release of those afflicted with serious ailments. One is 20-year-old Ge-Ann Perez who suffers from leprosy. She was arrested last March together with NDF peace consultant Frank Fernandez and his wife Cleofe Lagtapon who both had been caring for her. The AFP had deprived Ge-Ann of her medicines while in detention, causing the disease to relapse. We appeal for the release of the very sick such as Ge-Ann Perez, which can be done under Republic Act 10389 on recognizance to allow her to seek full and continuous medical treatment for leprosy.

3. There are now 13 couples in prison. During martial law, the wife was usually released in cases of arrested political prisoner couples to allow them to attend to the needs of their family, in consideration also of what government officials call “riders” (“sabit”) because they simply happened to be with the primary target during the arrest operation. We seek the release of 69-year old Virginia Villamor, who is sick and who was arrested with her husband Alberto Villamor when joint PNP-AFP forces raided their house to arrest my husband Vicente Ladlad. The couples also include Oliver and Rowena Rosales, and Miradel Torres and Romeo Poot who have young children.

There are many more issues I need to raise. These include seeking legislative action, as part of its constitutional oversight power, to investigate the nefarious police practice of planting firearms and explosives on political activists to legalize their arrest. There’s also the worsening trend of the martial law practice of criminalizing political prisoners by filing common crimes against them. But time is short, and there will be other speakers who shall take up these issues, and other opportunities to press these.

Before I end, just allow me to take note: “There is nothing more powerful than those who are unafraid.” Wala nang mas lalakas pa kaysa sa mga walang takot.

Kaming mga pamilya ng mga bilanggong pulitikal ay buo ang loob at walang takot na haharapin ang dapat harapin. Sa mga susunod na buwan, kami ay kakatok sa mga opisina ng gobyerno para idulog ang aming mga hinaing, pakiusap, at panawagan. Inaasahan naming bubukas ang mga pinto at kami ay papapasukin at pakikinggan man lang.

Hindi kami uurong sa labanang ito. Hindi kami natatakot kasi nasa tama kami, at ang gobyernong dumakip sa aming mga kaanak sa mga gawa-gawang kaso ang siyang mali.

Umaasa kami na sama-sama ninyo kaming sasabayan sa aming mga pagkilos. Sapagkat hindi lang kami ang KAPATID, tayo lahat ang KAPATID, magkakapatid sa iisang mithiin, magkakapatid sa iisang tunguhin na palayain ang lahat ng mga bilanggong pulitikal kasi sila ay simbolo ng kawalang katarungan at kapighatian ng ating bayan.

Maraming salamat muli sa inyong lahat.

Wigberto Tañada

Message to KAPATID

By Former Senator Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada
15 June 2019

Wigberto Tañada

It is with mixed emotions that I come to this gathering marking the relaunching of KAPATID, the association organized during martial law to work for the release of political prisoners.

I am very happy to be among kindred souls, some of whom I marched with, shoulder to shoulder, during the protest rallies against the Marcos dictatorship. I am also very happy to see many youths in this gathering joining us old ones in building a new platform for change.

Yet, it makes me very sad that an organization such as KAPATID would even be revived forty years after its establishment in 1978. For someone like me who has seen it all, been there, done that, I feel very sad that the purpose which brings us together today also hearkens to a dark past that has returned with even bloodier statistics and greater challenges.

I was in my 40s when I took up human rights cases. These were part of that tangled web of deception and fraud upon which the martial law regime compromised and damaged the entire judicial system and the rule of law. Now, forty years after, the same pattern of fabricated cases marks the same misrule of law that is breeding the continuing phenomenon of political prisoners. The case of Vic Ladlad and 535 other political prisoners like him exemplify this persisting trend:

• charging targeted activists with made-up common crimes that are non-bailable;
• planting firearms and explosives on them to keep them locked in jail indefinitely;
• presenting witnesses with perjured testimonies to establish guilt;
• delaying or hastening the trial process to ensure not speedy justice but quick conviction; and
• utilizing social engineering, from government news portals to printed posters to social media, to sow hatred and violence against activists and government critics.

The policy of criminalization of political dissent is a carryover from the martial law years. That this policy has survived into the present speaks volumes about the current state of human rights and justice under this administration, which has made trial and conviction by presidential cursing and the presumption of guilt the new normal.

This is the situation, this is the challenge that confront KAPATID in its reestablishment. I stand one with KAPATID in all your objectives. I have long maintained that as long as the roots of armed conflict are not addressed, this regime will attain neither the peace nor the justice it seeks and which our nation deserves. The political prisoners are a symbol of unpeace and injustice. They must be freed.

Also, I believe, no climate of impunity can last without letup. Everything has its end, this is a law of nature and a law of God. No matter the results of the recent election, the masses are neither dumb nor ignorant of reality. Let us hope and pray, and work together, that the three more years remaining of the Duterte administration will not bring more sufferings to our people who have been suffering for so long.

Let’s all take heart from that rare joint statement just last June 7 of the United Nations special rapporteurs, the UN’s highest investigative officials on human rights, who asked the UN to conduct an “independent investigation” on President Duterte’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs and on the attacks on human rights defenders, which are believed to be perpetrated by state forces.

It should be incumbent upon the UN to include in their investigation the cases of political prisoners who are being deliberately and wrongfully detained, prosecuted, or convicted as part of the state policy of political persecution.

Before I end, let me share with you a poem that my father, Lorenzo Tañada, required us his children to memorize during the darkest times of martial law. The message of this poem is once again very much alive in our hearts and minds. I would like to share some of its words of comfort and hope to KAPATID and the political prisoners, and to all of us:

Ikaw ba’y nalulugmok, kapatid?
Dalangin ko’y ikaw ay magaanan:
Lilipas rin ang kalungkutan . . .
Nasa panganib ka ba?
Katuwiran pa ri’y mananaig,
Kumapit sa pag-asa:
Ito ay lilipas rin.

(Are you in misery, brother?
Then I pray, be comforted:
Thy grief shall pass away . . .
Are you in danger?
Still let reason sway,
And cling to hope:
This, too, shall pass away.)

On this note, maraming salamat at magandang umaga sa ating lahat.

Political Prisoners

Mensahe ng mga Bilanggong Pulitikal

sa Muling Paglulunsad sa KAPATID
Hunyo 15, 2019

Kaming mga bilanggong pulitikal sa Metro Manila District Jail 4, Bicutan ay nagagalak sa pagpapanibagong lakas ng KAPATID, ang kapisanan para sa pagpapalaya ng mga bilanggong pulitikal.

Kailangang muling pasiglahin ang organisasyon ng mga pamilya at mga kaibigan ng mga bilanggong pulitikal.

Dumarami ang mga bilanggong pulitikal. Nagiging mahirap ang pagpapalaya sa kanila dahil sinasampahan sila ng mga gawa-gawang kaso ng mga pagpatay at illegal na pag-iingat ng explosives – mga kasong hindi maaaring makapagpiyansa ang mga akusado. Lumalala ang hindi makataong kalagayan nila sa mga piitan.

Ang paglaki ng bilang ng mga bilanggong pulitikal ay bahagi ng tumitinding mga paglabag sa mga karapatang pantao. Pinakamalubha sa mga ito ang maraming pagpatay na extrajudicial. Tatlumpong libong tao na ang pinatay ng PNP sa mga operasyong kontra-droga. Target na rin ng ganitong pagpatay ang mga aktibista ng ligal na kilusang demokratiko.

Noong nakaraang Marso, labing-apat na mga pinuno ng mga samahan ng magsasaka at manggagawang bukid sa Negros Occidental ang magkakahiwalay pero magkakasabay na pinatay ng PNP habang diumano ay nagsisilbi ng mga search warrant.

Naniniwala kaming makakatulong ang KAPATID sa pagpapalakas ng pakikibaka ng mga bilanggong pulitikal para makalaya.

Naniniwala rin kami na makakatulong ang KAPATID para mapabuti ang ‘di-makataong kalagayan ng mga bilanggong pulitikal sa mga piitan.

Para makamit ang mga layunin ng KAPATID, kailangang mapalawak ang hanay ng mamamayang nagtataguyod sa pakikibaka ng mga bilanggong pulitikal.

Mabuhay ang KAPATID!
Palayain ang mga bilanggong pulitikal!

Mga Bilanggong Pulitikal sa MMDJ-4, Bicutan

Rey Casambre
Ferdinand Castillo
Frank Fernandez
Vicente Ladlad
Edicel Legaspi
Adel Silva

Jesus Abetria
Dionisio Almonte
Marklen Maojo Maga
Jose Nayve
Bob Reyes
Rex Villaflor
at 31 iba pang bilanggong pulitikal

Kababaihang Bilanggong Pulitikal

Mensahe ng Pakikiisa Mula sa Kababaihang Bilanggong Pulitikal

Para sa Pagtitipon ng KAPATID, 15 Hunyo 2019

Pagbati at pagpupugay sa lahat ng natitipon dito ngayon mula sa aming kababaihang bilanggong pulitikal sa Camp Bagong Diwa!

Ikinagagalak namin ang muling pagkakatatag at paglulunsad sa KAPATID.

Malaking bagay na ang mga pamilya, kaanak, kaibigan at taga-suporta ng mga bilanggong pulitikal ay pagbuklurin at tipunin sa isang organisasyon. Ang ating layunin na palayain ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal sa buong bansa ay bibigyan ng KAPATID ng panibagong sikad at dagdag na lakas. Papayungan ng KAPATID ang hiwa-hiwalay at ispesipikong kampanya ng bawat bilanggong pulitikal. Bibigyan nito ng iisang tinig at gagabayan sa iisang direksyon. Ang organisadong pwersa na ibubunga ng KAPATID ay magsisilbing lambat ng suportang moral, lohistikal, pinansyal at iba pa para sa gaya naming bilanggong pulitikal.

Sa harap ng tumitinding pasismo ng estado sa mamamayan, mahalaga ang KAPATID upang bigyan ng mukha sa publiko ang mga bilanggong pulitikal na ang tanging kasalanan ay kumilos para sa karapatan ng mahihirap at walang kapangyarihan, isulong ang kapayapaan, at kamtin ang lipunang tunay na malaya at demokratiko.

Ipinakita nitong nakaraang linggo, sa pagkakamit ng pansamantalang kalayaan ng bilanggong pulitikal habang hinatulang may sala sa gawa-gawang kaso ang isa pa, na hindi natin maaring asahan lamang ang prosesong ligal.

Ang pagkriminalisa ng gobyerno sa pampulitikang paglaban ay bahagi ng sistematikong pagdurog sa kilusang masang ligal at demokratiko. Tinatakot ang taumbayan at minamanhid upang maging katanggap-tanggap ang mga bulok na patakaran. Malaki ang magiging papel ng KAPATID upang ito ay ilantad at labanan.

Hangad naming ang inyong tagumpay!

Mga Kababaihang Bilanggong Pulitikal sa Camp Bagong Diwa

Cleofe Lagtapon
Arlene Panea
Gee An Peres
Rowena Rosales
Miradel Torres
Virginia Villamor

Jose Maria Sison

Revitalize the Organization of Families and Friends of Political Prisoners

Message of Solidarity to KAPATID
Jose Maria Joma Sison & Julieta de Lima
Former Political Prisoners
June 15, 2019

Julie and I express our firm solidarity with the families and friends of political prisoners who are revitalizing and relaunching KAPATID. As former political prisoners, we know from experience how important and necessary it is to have a support organization.

KAPATID is urgently needed as the number of political prisoners is increasing due to the tyranny of the Duterte regime. People are easily arrested and imprisoned on mere suspicion and trumped up charges for alleged association with the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the Moro revolutionary organizations.

Nonbailable common crimes are usually charged against the political prisoners. Under the open encouragement of the tyrant, the military and police plant firearms and explosives to frame up people for arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention. The agents of state terrorism commit the acts of terrorism and yet slander their victims as “terrorists”.

The fast-rising number of political prisoners suffer conditions of congestion in limited prison facilities. Due to the malicious character and corruption of the regime, the political prisoners are daily deprived of the proper kind and amount of food. They are made susceptible to illnesses and deprived of medical checkup and prompt and adequate medical attention.

The visits of relatives and friends are extremely restricted or even prevented. It is therefore of the greatest importance that those who care most for the political prisoners are allowed to visit them and look after their needs.

KAPATID is absolutely needed to ensure that the families and friends are united and enabled to extend support to the political prisoners and their immediate families. We must extend all encouragement and assistance to KAPATID in carrying out its tasks:

1. To support the struggle of political prisoners to be free.
2. To help in improving the physical and mental conditions of political prisoners.
3. To expand the ranks of the people in support of the struggle of political prisoners to be free.
4. To inform the entire Filipino people and the people abroad the situation and struggle of political prisoners and garner the widest possible support for their cause.
5. To expand relations with the individuals, organizations and human rights groups abroad.

We wish KAPATID to strengthen its organization and fulfill these tasks with utmost success. We wish KAPATID to be ever more determined and to become a strong and effective organization for the benefit of the political prisoners in taking up their just cause and the cause of the entire people to be free from oppression and tyranny.

Long live KAPATID!
Victory to the just cause of the political prisoners!
Long live the Filipino people!


Kin, Friends Form KAPATID to Press for Release of Political Prisoners

June 15, 2019

MANILA – Families and friends of political prisoners gathered and re-launched Kapatid, today, June 15 at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Fides Lim, wife of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Vicente Ladlad, said Kapatid aims to work for the release of all political prisoners, fight for their welfare and gather the broadest support for political prisoners.

Kapatid was originally formed in 1978 as a response to the crackdown of political activists during Martial Law. Today, the organization is revived with more than 500 political prisoners under the Duterte administration.

“We smile in front of you but our hearts are in anguish,” Lim said.

Her husband was arrested along with elderly couple Alberto and Virginia Villamor on Nov. 7, 2018 in barangay San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and are now detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Speaking for other relatives of political prisoners, Lim said, “Because we love, we know how to fight.”

Former Senator Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada, in his speech, said, “Political prisoners are a symbol of unpeace and injustice. They must be freed.”

Humanitarian grounds

Kapatid is calling on the government to release immediately those who are sick and those who have been in prison for so long on humanitarian grounds.

Lim cited Ge-Ann Perez, who suffers from leprosy, and Juanito Itaas, the longest detained political prisoner who has been falsely convicted of common crimes.

She said that under the Duterte administration, four political prisoners have already died.
Kapatid also said that there are a number of activist couples who have been arrested and detained. The group is calling for the release of one of each couple to be able to attend to the needs of their families.

One such couple is Oliver and Rowena Rosales. Their daughter, Kala, 26 and Kai, 15, have been left to fend for themselves.

Carryover from Martial Law

Tañada noted that the policy of criminalizing political dissent is a carryover from the Marcos dictatorship.

Political prisoners are charged with common crimes in an attempt to hide the political nature of their cases, according to Edre Olalia, chairperson of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL). Such practice, Olalia said, violates the Hernandez political doctrine, which prohibits the criminalization of political dissent.

CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Gascon also lamented that even after the fall of dictatorship, the phenomenon of political prisoners has continued.

“This is not appropriate for any society that claims to be free and democratic,” Gascon said in Filipino.

Meanwhile, Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, who also handles cases of political prisoners, pointed out that the arrest and detention of political dissenters forms part of the “waves of repression under the Duterte administration.”

Diokno said, “The law itself is being used as an instrument of repression.”

Broadest alliance needed

Diokno said that the situation calls for the broadest possible unity.

“Now is the time to unite and take a stand together,” he said.

For her part, Carol Araullo, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), welcomed the re-launch of Kapatid. She said that relatives, friends and allies should be tapped to support the campaign for the release of political prisoners.

Lim said Kapatid is preparing for many activities in the coming months.

“There is nothing more powerful than those who are unafraid. We are not afraid because we know we are on the right side,” she said. (

Kin, friends form Kapatid to press for release of political prisoners

Photos by Lito Ocampo

BAYAN Chair Carol P Araullo was a political prisoner at Fort Bonifacio in 1973. His resourceful father got her out in just 3-1/2 months by, as she said, “nanuhol sa mga militar”. Yes, arbitrary arrest and detention was also a golden opportunity to make money for those in the martial law administration, especially those in the state security forces.

Former Senator Wigberto Tañada

Atty Chel Diokno, Chair of FLAG

CHR Chair Chino Gaston

VicBoy de Lima, reads the message of solidarity of his sister, detained Senator Leila de Lima

Remarks of Bayan Muna Rep Cong Eufemia Cullamat at KAPATID relaunch

QC Congressman Kit Belmonte experienced detention himself as a student activist in the tail-end of the martial law period.

Kalayaan Rosales and her brother took turns in reading a poem written by their parents, political prisoners Oliver and Rowena, government union organizers, illegally arrested on trump-up charges in 2018.

News article:
Baby of jailed martial law babies cries for parents’ freedom

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Baby of jailed martial law babies cries for parents’ freedom

People’s Chorale sings Batingaw.