DAVAO CITY – Militant lawmakers filed a resolution urging President Benigno Aquino III to immediately release political prisoners, especially minors, elderly, women and ailing.
House Resolution No. 2559 was filed by Bayan Muna Partylist Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate and Neri Colmenares along with other members of the Makabayan bloc.
The lawmakers said the country has 561 political prisoners in various detention facilities.
“Of the recorded 561 political prisoners, 50 of whom are women, 82 are ailing, 51 are elderly, 7 are minors and 19 are consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” the resolution said.
It added that two women political prisoners were even pregnant during the time of their arrests.
Andrea Rosal, who lost her child while in prison, was later released after being acquitted of kidnapping and murder charges on September 2015. Miradel Torres, arrested in July 2014, is still in prison in Camp Bagong Diwa together with her baby whom she gave birth in November 2014.
The lawmakers said “the poor healthcare and draconian measures inflicted on political prisoners are blamed by health and human rights groups for the death of Rosal’s newly born child.”
Meanwhile, the Makabayan bloc said among the ailing political prisoners are “Rolando Pañamogan who has acute diabetes and asthma; Jesus and Moreta Alegre, in prison for 11 years, both in their late 60s and suffering from hypertension and arthritis; Gerardo dela Peña, sentenced to life imprisonment despite his advanced age of 75 years and is now hard of hearing and sight, Sharon Cabusao, who is suffering from leukemia and thyroid illnesses, and, Ramon Argente who had a triple bypass operation in 2013 and remains fragile and weak.”
They also cited the cases of Benny Barid who died after three years of being bed-ridden from chronic asthmatic bronchitis with emphysema and Alison Alcantar who later died of pneumonia, sepsis and fatal arrhythmia as those who languish in jail “without proper medical care”.
Zarate said the release of the political prisoners “particularly the old, the ailing, the nursing mothers and the minors, will augur well in the celebration of the Christmas Season.”
“Also, the release of all the political prisoners will surpass a major stumbling block in the now stalled talks with the NDFP,” he said.
The Makabayan bloc said the government should consider humanitarian reasons in releasing the political prisoners. (davaotoday.com)