Political repression remains under P-Noy, son of a political prisoner - Karapatan

Today’s commemoration of the 39th year of the declaration of martial law is again an occasion for the President to reminisce the experience of how he and his family suffered under martial law. His father, Ninoy Aquino, was jailed for expressing his views against the ills in Philippine society, for criticizing the human rights record of the former dictator and for espousing democracy.  

But as he may recall the suffering of his family, he callously ignores the suffering of other families whose sons, daughters, wives, husbands, fathers and mothers are detained, not by the dictator but by his government; not 39 years ago, but today.

Today is the second martial law commemoration under this government that we, human rights organizations and families and friends of political prisoners, are calling on P-Noy to release the 360  political prisoners (as of 30 August 2011) detained all over the country. Ironically, this son of a former political prisoner has turned a deaf ear to the call for the release of political prisoners, especially the elderly, the sick, the women and the JASIG-protected detainees and those who were illegally arrested simply because they live in areas where revolutionary groups are operating or those who were illegally arrested because of the so-called war against terror.  

The political prisoners today are no different from the President’s father. Most of them may even have campaigned for the release of Ninoy along with the other political prisoners of the dictator; a number of them have raised their fists, fought the dictator and called for justice when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated.

P-Noy likes to project himself as the opposite of the hated GMA regime. Yet, those detained during the past regimes are still in jail. GMA and his cohorts are still free. No matter how he puts blame on GMA, they are his responsibility now.

A general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty is the quickest way the President could release all the political prisoners. It has been done. He did it in the case of the Magdalo soldiers. Yet he remains indifferent to the political prisoners whose beliefs run counter with the government.

Worst, the P-Noy government continues the practice of arrest and detention of those who criticize the government’s inaction to solve the soaring prices of basic commodities, unabated oil price increases; and government policies and programs on land reform, urban poor housing, mining and the budget cuts on basic services such as health and education.

To date, there are already 77 political prisoners under the P-Noy government. Hiding behind Oplan Bayanihan’s slogans of “adherence to human rights and peace and development”, political repression remains.

On the 39th year of the imposition of martial law, we strongly urge P-Noy to release all political prisoners and learn the lessons of martial law – that political persecution and repression will never put an end to the conflict engendered by government apathy to the cries of the majority poor, deprived and oppressed! Never again to martial law! Stop political persecution! Free all political prisoners! ###