Statement of Political Prisoners from SICA-1, Camp Bagong Diwa

More than a year has passed since Mr. Duterte's ascension to the Presidency. That is sufficient time for the Duterte government to set itself apart from previous administrations, but by and large, it has failed to do so. He has reneged on his promises to the people - promises that could have defined the kind of change and leadership he can offer. Such promises include the release of all political prisoners through a general and unconditional amnesty, engaging the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in peace negotiations to genuinely address the root causes of armed conflict, the free distribution of land to farmers, ending the widespread practice of contractualization in labor, fighting corruption and prosecuting big-time plunderers, among others.

The Duterte regime has released a small number of political prisoners, as compared to the 400 still languishing in jails, and has arrested more or less the same number of political prisoners, thereby negating this positive action. By his own admission, Duterte does not intend to keep his promise. Instead, he and the pro-US militarists and peace spoilers in the AFP and PNP are using the political prisoners as deck of cards in the negotiating table to force the NDFP’s hand in signing a bilateral ceasefire agreement without any commitment to the substantive agreements on socio-economic, political, and constitutional reforms. Alongside this, they have let loose the infamous war on drugs which has spiraled into a war against the poor, an ‘all-out-war’ against the people, and its counterinsurgency program dubbed as Oplan Kapayapaan. All these have been instruments of State repression. We condemn such schemes.

We, as political prisoners, continue to suffer grave injustice in many ways. We were arrested and detained on trumped-up, non-bailable criminal charges such as murder, illegal possession of explosives, arson, and the like. Thus, we have been painted as common criminals, in our exercise of legitimate political dissent. More arrests are coming as the Duterte regime resorts to authoritarianism and militarism. We suffer from long detention due to the slow grind of the justice system, resulting in the wrongful conviction of many political prisoners. Furthermore, prisons are congested and food and other services are insufficient. Our rights are severely restricted and violated. Everyday, we witness the preferential treatment enjoyed by VIP prisoner-plunderers like Janet Napoles. Duterte's justification of solitary confinement in prisons, rights abuses, and his tirades against human rights workers are portent of worse things to come.

The urgent release of political prisoners is a matter of justice and is in compliance with the GRP-NDFP agreement on the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. Thus, we resolve to further advance our struggle for freedom and justice, as we stand with the Filipino people fighting for just and lasting peace.

Release all political prisoners through general and unconditional amnesty!

Immediately release the elderly, sickly, women, long detained and minors!

Continue and support the 5th and succeeding rounds of GRP-NDFP peace negotiations to address the root causes of decades of armed conflict!

Immediately improve prison conditions!



July 16, 2017, Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City