Human rights group calls for immediate release of ailing political prisoners

Jan. 12, 2016

DAVAO CITY – Following the death of an elderly political detainee last Friday, alliance for the advancement of human rights, Karapatan renewed its call for the government to release ailing political prisoners.

Crisitna Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said “imprisonment based on trumped-up criminal charges combined with the inhuman jail condition and the slow grind of the justice system caused political prisoner Eduardo Serrano’s death.”

Serrano spent his last 11 years in jail because of fabricated criminal charges for a certain Rogelio Villanueva. He was already waiting for the dismissal of the last two cases against him when he was rushed to the hospital due to heart attack. He died on January 8 at the Philippine Heart Center.

“Serrano, a peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, would have walked out of jail a free man a long time ago had the BS Aquino government fulfilled its commitment to release ‘most, if not all’ political prisoners,” Palabay said.

Palabay said there are 82 political prisoners who are ill.

“We call on BS Aquino to release based on humanitarian grounds all the ailing and elderly political prisoners before his term ends,” Palabay said.

“It is hard enough to live in cramped and unventilated cells for years. It is even harder for those who are already suffering from ailments,” Palabay said.

Among those named for immediate release on humanitarian grounds are Adelberto Silva, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, Ramon Argente, Concha Araneta-Bocala, and Alex Birondo.

Silva, 68, a consultant for the NDFP, had undergone quadruple angioplasty before he was arrested on June 15, 2015.

Palabay said Austria-Tiamzon, also a peace consultant of the NDFP has spondylolisthesis (forward displacement of vertebra), hypertension and carotid artery occlusion, while Argente has coronary artery disease and had already undergone coronary by-pass.

Meanwhile, the 65-year-old Araneta-Bocala, another NDFP consultant, has weak lungs because of a history of pneumonia. She also has ulcer, recurring lumbar pain due to scoliosis, anemia, vertigo, goiter, and recurring pain in her left eye, which was operated on previously. Birondo is hypertensive and insulin-dependent because of diabetes, said Palabay.

The political prisoners are set to hold hunger strike and other protest actions from January 12 to 17.

“We don’t want another Eduardo Serrano, Benny Barid, Alison Alcantara or Crisanto Fat who all died while in prison,” Palabay said. (

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