KARAPATAN Statement on August 2, 2016 SC Reso, release of political prisoners

It is lamentable that the Supreme Court did not grant the motion for temporary release of the eight (8) detained peace consultants of the NDFP and two political prisoners for humanitarian release to directly facilitate their release. We also take exception to the limitations set by the SC order on the participation of NDFP consultants Vicente Ladlad and Randall Echanis. We, however, welcome the SC’s emphasis on the need for the local courts to give “appropriate priority” to hearings of motions for the releases of the 10 political prisoners. 

Karapatan reiterates its view that aside from the commitments of the Duterte administration and the GPH peace panel on the release of political prisoners through public pronouncements and the Oslo Statement in June 2016, it is an obligation of the Philippine government to effect the release of all political prisoners in compliance to previously-signed agreements with the NDFP such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). 

Thus, it is unwarranted for political prisoners to go through a “very tedious and legal process,” a process stated by Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza. Dureza also said that amnesty for the political prisoners is “premature” and that “it can be the endgame when the final peace agreement is forged.” All the 525 political prisoners are victims of illegal arrests through the previous administrations’ use of alias or John/Jane Doe warrants, planting of evidence, concoction of stories and perjured testimonies of professional witnesses, and buildup of trumped up criminal charges to put and keep them in jail. All measures to correct the injustices against them should not be compounded by the same tedious legal processes that keep them in jail. No conditions should be set on the release of these individuals who were unjustly persecuted for their political beliefs. 

As we prepare to assist the 10 political prisoners to go through necessary legal processes for their releases, we also reaffirm our commitment to work for the release of ALL political prisoners, including all the NDFP peace consultants and Jasig-protected persons, political prisoners who should be released for humanitarian reasons, many of them have debilitating diseases and are elderly, and the general, unconditional and omnibus release of many other political prisoners through amnesty.