DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Freedom for all political prisoners across the country.
This was the statement made by Ramon Argente, 57, a political prisoner who was temporarily freed last Thursday after posting bail.
“I call on President Duterte to fulfill his promises before he was sworn into office,” he said. “He said back then that he was ready to release political prisoners including those who are ill like me, and the elderly prisoners…and those who have spent a long time in prison, even the women.”
A peasant organizer from Camarines Sur, Argente was suffering with coronary artery disease when he was arrested back in Feb. 13, 2013 in Barangay Buson, Bauan, Batangas.
“Until now, I have not yet fully recovered from my illness,” he said. “I have been sick for a long time, but I was only released yesterday, but through bail.”
According to Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto, Argente, who was detained for more than three years, is one of the 130 sickly political prisoners to be released before Christmas.
“He had a triple heart bypass operation in 2013. After the surgery, he was brought back to detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City,” Selda said in a statement.
Selda said that Argente was detained because of trumped-up charges of multiple counts of murder, theft, and frustrated murder.
“Argente was undergoing medication when he was arrested. His health worsened while detained at the Camarines Norte Provincial Jail. It took six months before his motion for hospitalization was granted,” the group added.
Upon his arrival in Manila last Thursday, Argente directly went to the Philippines Hearts Center for a check-up.
Last week, members of the government peace panel Atty. Rene Sarmiento and Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad held a news conference here to reiterate the government’s commitment to release the 130 sickly and elderly political prisoners.
But the release of the remaining 270 political prisoners, according to Sarmiento, would be “more difficult since there are legal processes that need to be followed.”
The third round of peace talks between the NDF and the Philippine government is set in January 2017. (davaotoday.com)