From martial law to Noynoy Aquino: political prisoners exist
The Taguig Regional Trial Court today heard the motion of the counsels of Tirso Alcantara and Alan Jazmines to consolidate the charges of illegal possession of firearms and illegal possession of explosives to rebellion. The counsels again presented arguments for Alcantara's immediate transfer from military custody to a civilian detention facility citing, among others, the recent decision of the Gumaca RTC ordering the military to transfer Alcantara to the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame.
The military failed to present Alcantara during the hearing and the Judge Advocate General Office (JAGO), for the second time, did not attend the court proceedings.
“Even without today’s hearing at the Taguig RTC, Alcantara should now be transferred to a civilian detention facility, specifically at the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame, because the Gumaca Regional Trial Court already ordered the military,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson.
On July 18, the Gumaca Regional Trial Court, where Alcantara also face charges, ordered the Chief of the Intelligence Security Group or the Commanding Officer of the Intelligence Security Group of the Philippine Army to comply with the May 9, 2012 Order to “commit accused Tirso Alcantara at the PNP Custodial Center at Camp Crame.”
Karapatan renews its call to immediately execute the said Order. “For more than one and a half years now, Tirso Alcantara has been in solitary confinement in a military detention cell. It’s like martial law. The military can simply ignore any court order. We don’t see any reason for the delay of Alcantara’s transfer, yet the military refuses to follow civilian authority,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
The Gumaca RTC Resolution, signed by Judge Maria Chona Pulgar-Navarro , underscored the ‘supremacy of the civilian authority at all times’ and found that Alcantara’s ‘transfer to a civilian detention facility is long overdue’.
The said Gumaca RTC Resolution cited that Alcantara “suffered inhuman treatment and unreasonable restrictions/impositions on his rights in the hands of his military custodians.” The Court also recognized that “there are serious threats to his health and security which can only intensify if his detention at the ISG detention facility at Fort Bonifacio continues.” The same reasons were argued by Alcantara’s legal counsels at the Taguig RTC.
Hilao-Enriquez said that Alcantara is considered by the military as a “price catch”. He was jailed for fabricated criminal cases, and despite the Joint Agreement for Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), a signed agreement between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH).
Alcantara is a known leader of the New People’s Army in Southern Tagalog and is consultant of the NDFP on the peace negotiations. “NDFP consultants are guaranteed immunity under the JASIG. The problem is, the government has reneged on its earlier commitment to release political prisoners, specifically those covered by JASIG,“ added Hilao-Enriquez.
Karapatan also held a picket outside the Taguig Hall of Justice to call for the release of Alcantara and all other political prisoners either through a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty or through the “Release on Recognizance” offered by the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP), a group composed of peace advocates, Church leaders and organization from both Protestant and Catholic denominations. ###