Kapatid calls for the release of political prisoners

·Contributor
·2 min read
Activists and supporters calling to free Reina Mae Nasino, a detained human rights activist who lost her three month old daughter while she was in detention on October 16, 2020 in Manila, Philippines. Kapatid, on the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, is calling for the release of political prisoners in the country, especially the sick and elderly ones. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)
Activists and supporters calling to free Reina Mae Nasino, a detained human rights activist who lost her three month old daughter while she was in detention on October 16, 2020 in Manila, Philippines. Kapatid, on the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, is calling for the release of political prisoners in the country, especially the sick and elderly ones. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

In commemorating the 50th anniversary of martial law, Kapatid, a support group of families and friends of political prisoners, is renewing its call to release all political prisoners in the country.

Data from the human rights group Karapatan pegs the total number of political prisoners as of June 2022 at 803.

Of the 803 political prisoners, 20%, or a total of 164, are women.

In a statement released on Wednesday (September 21), women political prisoners currently detained at Taguig City Jail remembered the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. dictatorship, and the horrors of its regime.

“It is written in history and will always be remembered that the imposition of Marcos’s one-man rule and the fascist military machinery on the civilian populace brought about intense suppression and violation of human rights, economic crisis, and suffering all through the 11 years of Marcos dictatorial rule until he was ousted through a popular uprising in 1986,” they said.

They are specifically calling for the release of elderly and sick political prisoners, including Ge-Ann Perez, a 23-year-old political prisoner who is being treated for Hansen’s disease, or leprosy.

Meanwhile, political prisoners who are already of senior age or in their late 50s, and suffering from serious health conditions, are Cleofe Lagtapon, Virginia Villamor, Salome Ujano, Evangeline Rapanut, Fe Serrano, and Rowena Rosales.

Earlier today (Sept 22), a trial court in Manila rejected the Department of Justice’s petition to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New Peoples’ Army (NPA) as terrorist organizations, saying that “‘armed struggle’ is only a ‘means’ to achieve the CPP’s purpose; it is not the ‘purpose’ of the creation of the CPP.”

“Be that as it may, while ‘armed struggle’ with the ‘violence’ that necessarily accompanies it, is indubitably the approved ‘ means’ to achieve the CPP-NPA’s purpose, ‘means,’ is not synonymous with ‘purpose,’” the court said.

The decision could prove beneficial to political prisoners, as most, if not all, are accused of being members or high-ranking officers of what the government calls “communist-terrorist groups.”

​​Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.

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