June 17, 2016
QUEZON CITY – “On June 15, we received two good news for peace and human rights advocates,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said in a press conference of advocates led by Pilgrims for Peace.
Representatives of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) panel and the incoming Duterte administration signed Wednesday a joint statement to hold the formal peace talks in July. Also, on Wednesday afternoon, political prisoners Sharon Cabusao and Isidro de Lima were released from the Taguig City Jail and the Special Intensive Care Unit-1 at Camp Bagong Diwa.
“We welcome the Joint Statement of the NDFP and the peace panel of the incoming Duterte government. We fully support the efforts to finally address the roots of the ongoing civil war through the peace talks, which the Aquino regime had intentionally bungled in the last five years,” Palabay said. The Joint Statement said the July peace talks would also tackle the Amnesty Proclamation for all political prisoners.
“We hope that all political prisoners – victims of illegal arrest, torture and detention because of their activism and political beliefs – will be immediately released, as the GPH’s obligations under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG),” Palabay continued.
The fabricated charge of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against Cabusao, de Lima and NDFP peace consultant Adelberto Silva was dismissed by the Bacoor Cavite RTC Branch 19. The said court granted Silva’s motion to dismiss, saying that the search and seizure conducted during their arrest is "unreasonable," as the purported evidence is the "proverbial fruit of the poisonous tree."
Said Court decision is similar to the basis of withdrawal of charges against the 43 health workers or the “Morong 43”, whose arrest and detention, like Cabusao, de Lima, Silva and all political prisoners, is illegal because the charges against them are fabricated and “planted; and their right to due process was grossly violated in the conduct of the illegal search and seizure.
“At least 297 out of 509 political prisoners (as of May 31, 2016) were illegally arrested under BS Aquino. Almost all of the 509 were slapped with trumped-up criminal charges to hide the political nature of their arrest,” Palabay said.
“Let us bring home more political prisoners by standing up for them and with them. The Aquino regime, as in the past regimes, violated their rights because they stood up and fought for the people's rights and welfare. Let us hold these regimes accountable for the injustice done to political prisoners. Let us bring the political prisoners back to their families and to the people they unselfishly served,” Palabay concluded.