DAVAO CITY – Families of political prisoners called anew for the immediate release of their relatives as the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front continue.
Evangeline Hernandez, chairperson of Hustisya (justice), a non-government organization of victims of human rights abuses, said the political prisoners, “especially the ailing, elderly, nursing mothers and those detained for more than 10 years, should be released before it’s too late”.
“There are more than a hundred elderly, ailing and women political prisoners who should be released on humanitarian grounds. They should be released immediately before it’s too late,” she said.
“Miradel Torres, a political prisoner at the Taguig City Jail, had to wean her son from breastfeeding prematurely because she was not allowed to keep him. At the same time, the courts kept on denying motions for bail,” Hernandez said Sunday, September 11.
She also cited the case of the Alegre family who “were convicted for trumped-up charges” over a case of land grabbing by a landed politician.
She said Moreta Alegre, 67, is detained at the Correctional Institute for Women while her husband Jesus, 70, and son Selman, 40, are detained at the New Bilibid Prison.
Hernandez also said political prisoner Ramon Argente “already had to undergo a triple bypass surgery after he was arrested.”
“The poor conditions in jail worsened his condition and can cause another heart ailment, or cost him his life,” Hernandez said.
Meanwhile, she said peace consultant Eduardo Serrrano, died of heart failure while in detention facing several trumped up charges.
“We don’t want that to happen again,” she said.
Among the major agreements signed in Oslo, Norway during the first round of the formal peace talks is the commitment of the government for the “early release of prisoners (as listed by the NDF) who are sick, elderly, overly long detained, and women based on humanitarian grounds.”
The other major agreements were:
- Reaffirmation of previously signed agreements since The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, including the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) “subject to further developments and enhancements as may be mutually agreed upon.”
- Reconstitution of the JASIG List which was presented by the NDF Panel to the GRP Panel. The JASIG protects certain NDF leaders and consultants from arrest and prosecution in recognition of their participation in the peace process.
- Formal revitalization of the Joint Monitoring Committee, a mechanism crucial in the implementation of CARHRIHL.
- Recommendation for President Duterte to “issue an amnesty proclamation, subject to concurrence of Congress, for the release of prisoners who are listed by the NDF and who have been arrested, imprisoned, charged, and/or convicted for alleged acts or omissions within the ambit of the Revised Penal Code or special laws in connection with crimes in pursuit of one’s political beliefs.”
Meanwhile, the government peace panel is eyeing to sign a final peace agreement with the Communists within one year, while estimating that the implementation of reforms mutually-agreed by both the government and the NDF will take five years.
Government negotiator Hernani Braganza said the Duterte administration “has set a self-imposed deadline to wrap up the peace talks in a year’s time to allow the implementation stage of the peace process to take root before the President’s term ends in year 2022.”
He said the real test of the peace process lies in the implementation of the social, economic and political reforms agreed upon by both parties.
“The Duterte government and the NDF share a common mission: address the root causes of the armed conflict. Both panels are guided by this mission and we are serious in finding joint solutions to attain just and lasting peace,” he added. (davaotoday.com)