Ramon Patriarca, peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), was released from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center on 4 February 2014 after the Branch 25 of the Regional Trial Court-Danao City dismissed the rebellion charge against him and five other co-accused, who were earlier released on bail.
The release came after Patriarca’s legal counsel filed a demurrer to evidence. Judge Jerry Dicdican found the rebellion case against him without basis and ordered his release on 10 January 2014.
On 9 April 2009, Patriarca filed a civil case for torture and Php 1.4 million in damages against 20 officers and members of the Philippine National Police and Central Command, among them then Cebu Provincial police director Chief Supt. Carmelo Valmoria and Maj. Gen. Armando Cunanan, former commander of the Central Command. The case is pending at the RTC Branch 12.
“I am happy that henceforth, I can better contribute to the struggle for the release of political prisoners, and for human rights and just peace, not limited anymore by prison bars and barbed wires,” Patriarca said in a statement sent to Karapatan.
To date, there are 427 political prisoners still in jail, all falsely charged with criminal cases. Of the 427 political prisoners, 12 are NDFP peace consultants covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed by both the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the NDFP in 1995. In 2011, the GPH peace panel head, Atty. Alex Padilla, unilaterally declared the JASIG inoperative, a clear violation of the agreement.
In jail, Patriarca launched hunger strikes, fasting, and other protest actions in order to call public attention to his detention, and to echo the demand to release all political prisoners. He had issued statements to the public on issues such as the pork barrel system, government neglect on the plight of the victims and survivors of typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). Patriarca also made and sold handcrafted greeting cards, proceeds of which were donated to the victims of typhoon Yolanda.
“… State repression is incapable of silencing, not even in prison, yearnings for freedom and justice,” Patriarca said. “My abduction, brief disappearance and torture five years ago, now the subject of a civil case I filed against a number of military and police officials, showed that human rights violations is indeed a twin of the existing exploitative social system,” he added.
Patriarca was abducted on 5 February 2009 at Barangay (village) Casili, Mandaue City, Cebu, by unidentified men. He was tortured and interrogated for three days. In the said statement, Patriarca thanked all those who supported him and the campaign to release all political prisoners, both here and abroad.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets, Central District
Diliman, Quezon City
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.