(On the International Day of Solidarity for Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War)
The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), an organization of former political prisoners in the Philippines, is one with the Morong 43 and all 371 political prisoners in the country in calling for their immediate and unconditional release from detention. As human rights organizations and peoples all over the world commemorate on December 3 the International Day of Solidarity for Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles, we are one in condemning the continuing policies and practice of torture, criminalization of the exercise of political beliefs and arbitrary detention of political prisoners and prisoners of war all over the world.
We salute the Morong 43 and all political prisoners in the Philippines in their hunger strike which started on December 3, 2010. The hunger strike is a strong political statement of strength and unity amid efforts of the Aquino government to impede the release of the Morong 43 and all political prisoners in the country. There were 2, 059 victims of illegal arrest under the Arroyo government, 579 of them are human rights defenders. 333 of them are women and 112 of them are minors at the time of their arrest. Among these victims are the Morong 43, the forty health workers who are on their 10th month of detention. While Pres. Aquino has called their arrest and the warrant used for their arrest as “fruits of the poisonous tree,” he has not pursued the withdrawal of charges against them and their unconditional release because of his apparent amiable relations with the so-called “security sector” of the state, which includes the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Security Council. Thus, the hunger strike of the Morong 43 is not only legitimate, it is most just. We likewise call for the immediate release of political prisoners such as peace advocate Angelina Ipong, National Democratic Front consultants Ed Sarmiento and Ed Serrano, and Sandino Esguerra, all have languished in jails for more than five years now.
In the first four months of the new Aquino government, there are already thirteen (13) political prisoners, among the 23 victims of illegal arrest and detention. Sixteen out of the 23 were victims of torture. SELDA attributes this directly to Aquino’s continued implementation of the Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), Arroyo’s former counter-insurgency policy which has spawned the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and trumped up charges against activists and supporters. While Aquino’s new counter-insurgency program will still be enforced the next year, we see this as the same terror blueprint, with loads of deceptive programs included. A counter-insurgency policy patterned after the United States Counter Insurgency Guide of 2009 can only result to more victims of illegal arrests and arbitrary detention, EJKs, enforced disappearances and thousands of more human rights violations. It is thus no wonder that the climate of impunity continues.
The US counter-insurgency policies have been consistently drafted and implemented by puppet states of the US all over the world to crush legitimate political dissent in their countries, especially those that seek the halt of US plunder and intervention on its neocolonial states. These have been consistently implemented to promote aggression against national liberation movements of peoples all over the world. These have been consistently implemented to silence and put behind bars those who strive to work for genuine peace, social justice and freedom.
SELDA stands in solidarity with the political prisoners, their families and supporters and peoples of the world against these forms of political repression, fascism and aggression. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the Morong 43 and all political prisoners in the Philippines and the world. We call for justice for all victims of human rights violations and state impunity.
For reference: FR. DIONITO CABILLAS, Secretary General, SELDA