Political prisoners to Duterte: Those in power are the real criminals, terrorists

On Duterte’s 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA), political prisoners (PPs) from various jails across the country joined their voices to call for justice and demand accountability for the crimes and rights violations perpetrated by the Duterte regime.

As of June 2018, Karapatan documented 509 political prisoners in the country. Of this number, 179 were arrested under Duterte, 118 are sickly, 46 are women, 39 are elderly, 5 are minors, and 6 are consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Most of the political detainees come from peasant and indigenous communities who were charged with trumped-up criminal charges.  
 

In a statement, the political prisoners underscored that those in their ranks are individuals who have dedicated their lives for the realization of substantive political and economic reforms in society. Yet despite this, their work and respective advocacies have been criminalized, and they were illegally and arbitrarily arrested on the basis of fabricated charges, false and planted evidence, perjured testimonies, among others. 

They also reiterated that they are being accused of terrorism and criminal activities when the government itself remains as the biggest, most organized criminal and terrorist syndicate in the country: “Sa katunayan, ang mga kriminal at terorista ay ang mga naghaharing-uri at ang gobyerno nila. Ginagamit nila ang mga mapaniil na instrument ng estado na sandatahang lakas at pulisya, bilangguan, korte at pati batas mismo, tulad ng Human Security Act ng 2007, laban sa amin at sa mamamayan.” (In truth, the real criminals and terrorists are the ruling elite and those in government. They are using the army and the police, jail authorities, courts, and the law itself against us and the people.)

“The criminalization, illegal arrest and detention, and the various forms of maltreatment against political prisoners stand as mere reflection of the Duterte regime’s contempt for those courageous enough to voice their criticism against the anti-people policies peddled by this government; it is a reflection of the State’s repressive character and non-tolerance for dissent,” they added. 

“Ang labis na panunupil at pagpapahirap sa mga bilanggong pulitikal ay nagpapakita sa tunay na kalagayang pampulitika sa Pilipinas ngayon. Ito’y bahagi at kadugtong ng tumitinding pampulitikang panunupil ng rehimeng US-Duterte para palawigin ang naghaharing sistemang mala-kolonyal at malapyudal sa ating bansa.” (The extreme repression that we were subjected to show the real political situation in the country. This is part of the intensifying political repression done by the US-Duterte regime to preserve itself and the semi-colonial, semi-feudal character of our society.)

Political detainees demanded for justice and their immediate release, along with their appeal for all to support and continue along their struggle for just and lasting peace: “Katarungan! Kalayaan! Yan an gaming hiyaw at panawagan! Nanawagan ang mga daan-daang mga bilanggong pulitikal na itaguyod at suportahan ng mga nagmamahal sa katotohanan, demokrasya at kapayapaan ang aming pakikibaka para sa katarungan at aming paglaya. Ang pagpapalaya sa mga bilanggong pulitikal ay nararapat na pagtutuwid sa hindi makatarungang pagdakip at pagkulong sa amin.” (Justice! Freedom! That is our call! Hundreds of political prisoners are appealing to all who are fighting for truth, democracy, and peace, to support and take part in our struggle for justice and freedom. Our immediate release is an imperative of justice from the unjust arrest and detention that we have gone through.)