Karapatan welcomes release of political prisoners

Karapatan welcomes the release of thirteen political prisoners. It is optimistic that recently released consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines will have a meaningful and substantial participation to the resumption of the formal NDFP-GRP peacetalks.

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general confirmed that the following political prisoners were released from August 15 to morning of August 18, 2016: 

 

  1. Ma. Concepcion Araneta-Bocala 
  2. Tirso Alcantara
  3. Ariel Arbitrario
  4. Kennedy Bangibang
  5. Alex Birondo
  6. Winona Birondo
  7. Renante Gamara
  8. Eddie Genelsa
  9. Alan Jazmines
  10. Ernesto Lorenzo
  11. Alfredo Mapano
  12. Ruben Saluta
  13. Jaime Soledad
  14. Adelberto Silva

 

All of have immunity guarantees, except two, Alex and Winona Birondo, who were released on humanitarian grounds.

Out of the 22 detained peace consultants, six are still waiting for their release. They are Loida Magpatoc, Perforio Tuna, Renato Baleros, Pedro Codaste, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon. “We are indignant over PNP Custodial Center Warden Arnel Apud’s callousness in facilitating the relase of NDFP consultants Bennito and Wilma Tiamzon, despite the issueance of release orders for them in the four local courts,” Palabay said.

The human rights group also reiterated the release of three convicted peace consultants Eduardo Sarmiento, Leopoldo Caloza, and Emeterio Antalan detained at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City. "The three were illegally arrested and detained since the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration and was convicted during the Aquino regime. Their release is long overdue," Palabay emphasized. 

"We also call on the Duterte administration to withdraw all the trumped up charges against all political prisoners to facilitate the release of the more than 500 other political prisoners as an affirmation of previously signed agreements by both parties," Palabay said. She cited two major agreements by the GRP and the NDFP, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG). 

"The formal peace talks should pave the way for discussions between the two parties on substantive issues such as genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization, decent jobs and living wages, democratic access of the people to social services, respect for the right to self determination of national minorities, national patrimony and an independent and nationalist foreign policy, among many others in addressing the root causes of war," Palabay concluded.