Anticipating arrival of Pope Francis: Camp Bagong Diwa political prisoners start hunger strike
Five days before the arrival of Pope Francis, political prisoners at Camp Bagong Diwa started their hunger strike yesterday January 10, which will last up to January 19, the Pope’s departure from the Philippines.
“Aside from these letters and other efforts, we are also putting the whole of ourselves in our plea for return of our freedom, application of justice and respect for human rights that have been and continue to be deprived from us,” thus said the political prisoners in a statement, explaining the reason for their hunger strike. The 32 political prisoners at Camp Bagong Diwa’s male and female dorm signed the declaration of hunger strike. Among them are Andrea Rosal, and consultants to the peace talks of the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) such as Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Loida Magpatoc, Emeterio Antalan, and Leopoldo Caloza.
They expressed hope that, “Your Holiness may be able to help in pressing for the return of the lost freedom and other rights of political prisoners, and thus fully correcting such grave social and political ills that have long been pestering in our country…” They added, “We, political prisoners, are among those being made to suffer terribly in this country, in the same way that you actually also saw and have also been deeply concerned about in your own country, Argentina.”
The political prisoners’ called their hunger strike a testament of their “existence and dire plight as political prisoners”. The Aquino government continues to deny that there are political prisoners in the country, much like the administrations it preceded.
Aside from their plight, the political prisoners expect that Pope Francis would see the “widespread sufferings of the greater mass of the oppressed, violated, deprived and impoverished people in our country,” which, they said has also been the Pope’s concern in his own country, Argentina.
The political prisoners at CBD asked the jail authorities to donate in their behalf the at least P10,000 savings from their food rations to the victims of disasters brought about by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013 and Typhoon Senyang in 2014. “We ask that the donation of such savings be coursed through the International Committee of the Red Cross,” they said.
Other political prisoners nationwide are expected to join in the hunger strike on January 15, while others will go on fast. Relatives of political prisoners and other victims of human rights violations go on sympathy fast and other sympathy actions while the Pope is in the country. All political prisoners in various jails nationwide will light candles on January 15 to welcome Pope Francis.
The statement is signed by Tirso Alcantara, Emeterio Antalan, Cesar Balmaceda, Leopoldo Caloza, Alan Jazmines, Jesus Abetria Jr., Modesto Araza, Alex Arias, Eddie Cruz, Philip Enteria, Voltaire Guray, Fidel Holanda, Edward Lanzanas, Rolando Laylo, Eliseo Lopez, Alberto Macasinag, Jared Morales, Denis Ortiz, Hermogenes Reyes Jr., Felicardo Salamat, Aristides Sarmiento, and Cirilo Verdan.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
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