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    Statement of Gary King of Amnesty International – USA Group 37 Minneapolis on being barred from visiting political prisoner Ramon Patriarca in Cebu

    *The statement was drafted yesterday January 27, 2012 and Karapatan/SELDA were asked to release this to the media

    Accompanied by Karapatan’s Mara Arcilla, today I and my daughter and son in-law were denied access to Ramon Patriarca at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, in the hills above Guadalupe City in Cebu. Mara had called and was told that visitors could come between 1 PM and 3 PM, but at the gate, we were refused entry.

    I showed them my “Amnesty International Leadership” card, and asked to meet with Ramon.  My card was taken inside, and shown to the warden.  The guard said that the Governor, Gwendolyn Garcia, had forbidden visitors to Ramon Patriarca.  Soon, I was told we could not see him.  I wrote a letter to the warden, explaining that in my life, ten times, I have never been refused permission to talk to a prisoner.  However, as I was writing it, a small truck left the prison, with the warden and assistant warden inside.  I waved to them, but they did not stop.   I sent my letter inside, with my card, and Mara explained that never before had prisoners been denied access by Karapatan or Amnesty International.  But the guard said nothing could be done.

    In the paper this morning, we learned that Ramon was brought there.  He has started a hunger strike.  Prison authorities said that he was inciting regular prisoners to join the rebellion.

    Gov. Garcia was quoted as saying that her prisons were “rebel free”.  Apparently this means that if brought to them, they will be incommunicado.

    I don’t see why the Governor can do this.  These prisoners are only supposed to be held in civilian prisons.

    Gary King, PhD
    Leader AI-USA Group 37 Minneapolis

    —-

    PRESS RELEASE
    January 28, 2012

    Reference: Angie Ipong, Secretary General, SELDA (+63949-9587373)

    RELEASE POLITICAL PRISONER RAMON PATRIARCA, RELEASE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS! – SELDA

    From Danao City Jail, a regular detention center, Ramon Patriarca, a political prisoner, a National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant in the peace talks has been arbitrarily transferred to Camp Lapu-Lapu, the base of the Visayas Central Command (CENCOM), without  due notice to him and to his counsel.  After his court hearing in Cebu City yesterday, he was brought directly to Camp Lapu-lapu, these according to reports by Karapatan-Central Visayas.

    “The transfer of Patriarca to military custody, to a facility where he was illegally detained, tortured and kept incommunicado for days after he was arrested on trumped up charges, smacks of deceit and ill-intent to silence political prisoners and in continuing to delay the resumption of peace talks,” said Angie Ipong, secretary general of the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA).

    Patriarca, an NDFP peace consultant, was abducted in February 2009 by elements of the AFP-Central Command based in Camp Lapu-lapu, where he was brought, tortured and held incommunicado for several days. He was later transferred to a regular jail facility after he, his family, lawyers and supporters protested. He is among the 13 NDFP consultants who remain in jail, even as the Philippine government has announced that they will facilitate the release of all if not most of the peace consultants to provide a more favorable atmosphere for the resumption of peace talks.

    The bases cited for his transfer are as follows: first, for fear he will be rescued by alleged NPA comrades and second, that Patriarca is inciting his fellow inmates to rebel.

    Ipong said “these are concocted accusations of paranoid minds because while they accuse Patriarca of such, they constantly brag about Cebu being cleansed of NPA presence and they neglect to mention the fact that the dire conditions in jail have been the main reasons why inmates conduct mass actions to air their grievances.”

    “Like the 364 political prisoners who continue to languish in jail, Patriarca should in fact be immediately released and not kept in jail or under military custody, in the hands of his torturers,” Ipong concluded.

    ———————————————–
    The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) is an organization of former political prisoners in the Philippines. Founded on December 4, 1984, SELDA was initiated by newly-released political prisoners of the martial law period.  SELDA’s primary task is to work for the release of all political prisoners and to see to it that humane treatment of those who are still in detention are complied with by the Philippine authorities.  SELDA advocates justice for current and former political prisoners.  It calls for the mobilisation of resources in support of political prisoners, former detainees and their families.  It carries out legislative advocacy for the indemnification and rehabilitation of political prisoners. SELDA goes into partnership and builds solidarity with concerned individuals and groups for the freedom and welfare of political prisoners and all victims of tyranny.
    SELDA National Office: 2/F, Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets,
    Brgy. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
    Tel: 632-4342837 Fax: 632-4354146
    Email: selda.phils@gmail.com, selda_phil@yahoo.com.ph
    Web: www.seldapilipinas.wordpress.com

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