Release Political Prisoners in the Philippines: Support the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks!
More than 400 Political Prisoners (as of October 31, 2016) are currently detained in jails throughout the Philippines, including 130 who are sickly or have physical ailments, 33 who are women, 33 who are elderly and 49 who have already been detained for 10 or more years. Together with their families, loved ones and communities, we call on President Rodrigo R. Duterte to expeditiously effect the release of all political prisoners in Philippines.
We call for their release for the following reasons:
1. Their release from detention is a matter of justice. They have been arrested, detained and imprisoned for engaging in acts in furtherance of their political beliefs. While some political prisoners are charged with political offenses such as rebellion and sedition, the majority are facing trumped-up charges of non-bailable, common crimes. Even those who face political charges are also charged with common crimes. These trumped-up charges provide the legal basis for their arrest and detention and hide the political reasons for their imprisonment as well as stigmatize political prisoners as common criminals.
2. Following his election, President Duterte announced that he will release all political prisoners as an act of confidence-building with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). We believe that President Duterte is fully aware of “legal offensive” tactics, such as trumped-up charges against government critics, used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police in internal security and counterinsurgency programs like OPLAN BANTAY LAYA and OPLAN BAYANIHAN. It is within the power of the Office of President to correct such historic injustices and to bring relief and remedy to political prisoners. Whether through pardon, humanitarian release, or amnesty proclamation, President Duterte has the power to release all political prisoners, if he will match his words with political will.
3. President Duterte promised to end the armed conflict during his term. In line with this goal, he resumed the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The release of three (3) detained NDFP consultants, namely, Eduardo Sarmiento, Emeterio Antalan, and Leoplodo Caloza, is a crucial action for the talks. The release of other political prisoners on humanitarian grounds is a critical gesture of goodwill and fosters confidence for the hard-work and diligent efforts needed in the GRP-NDFP peace talks. In addition, such releases are in consonance and compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), a hallmark agreement already signed by both the GRP and NDFP through their peace negotiations.
As peace advocates across the Philippines and around the world, we join the clamor for the earnest pursuit of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. We urge President Duterte to continue confidence-building measures that foster favorable conditions for the Peace Talks by releasing all political prisoners.
Whether on humanitarian grounds, pardon, or amnesty proclamation, political prisoners in the Philippines should be released without delay!
#JustPeacePH #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners #AmnestyNow
- President, Republic of the Philippines
H.E. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
- Department of Justice
Sec. Vitaliano N. Aguirre II
- Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Processes
Sec. Jesus G. Dureza
- Chair, GRP Negotiating Panel
Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III
- Chair, NDFP Negotiating Panel
Fidel V. Agcaoili
Release Political Prisoners in the Philippines:
We support the GRP-NDFP Peace Talks!
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