Health of political prisoners in NBP deteriorating as they approach the 12th day of their hunger strike
On Political Prisoners
Friday, 05 August 2011 15:08

August 5, 2011

Health of political prisoners in NBP deteriorating as they approach the 12th day of their hunger strike

Six (6) of the political prisoners holding their hunger strike in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City were rushed to the NBP hospital this Thursday as they approached the 12th day of their self starvation protest for their release.

According to the rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), the hunger strikers who were rushed to the hospital were Rodel Alcon, Edgar Apolona, Apolonio Barado, Diony Sarad, Bas Esmael and Christopher Balneg.

“They are already experiencing the effect of having no intake of food for almost two weeks now.  The NBP doctors regularly check on their health condition and had been advising Apolonio Barado to stop his hunger strike due to his unstable health condition, but he insists on pursuing.  They are all persistent and they want the government to start listening to their plea for freedom,” said Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP.

The hunger strike protest was triggered by the death of their co-inmate Mariano Umbrero last July 15, 2011.  Umbrero was the cancer-stricken political prisoner who was eventually given clemency by President Aquino four days after his death.

The prisoners’ hunger strike started last July 25, 2011 coinciding with President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA). The protest action calls for the release of all political prisoners, prison reforms particularly amendment of the Board of Pardons and Parole guidelines and to draft and issue a clear National human rights program.  

According to the group, the hunger strikers’ blood pressures are already getting critical to the point of 90/40 based on NBP Doctor’s check up.

Barado and Alcon have already been given dextrose while they refused confinement and continue with their hunger strike.     

“We call on President Aquino and DOJ Secretary Leila De Lima to act on the appeal of the political prisoners immediately before it’s too late again, just like what happened to Tatay Umbrero,” Amistad added.

The group is also waiting and following-up the Department of Justice (DOJ) USec. Francisco Baraan’s pledge during their picket last August 1, 2011, regarding a dialogue with Secretary Leila De Lima to discuss the political prisoners’ concerns.

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Last Updated on Friday, 05 August 2011 15:10


#2 John Lana 2011-08-13 06:30


In the letter of Ninoy address to his son "Ninoy", he said: "Son, my decision is an act of conscience. It is an act of protest against STRUCTURES of injustice that have been imposed upon our helpless countrymen...The only valuable asset I can bequeath to you now is the name you carry. I have tried my best during my years of public service to keep that name untarnished and respected, unmarked by sorry compromises for expediency. I now pass it on you, as good. I pray, as when my father, your grandfather passed it on to me...In this statement I said: Some people suggested that I beg for mercy from the present powers that be. Son, this I cannot do in conscience. I would rather die on my feet with honor, than on bended knees in shame."

This letter of Ninoy proved one thing: there is something wrong with the "system" of government as the primary evil and the mother of all social problems that brought miseries upon Filipino masses and to my understanding, the person of late President Ferdinand Marcos was just secondary, if not incidental.

Taking into a closer look to what Ninoy Aquino dreamed of, believed and vowed to achieve side by side with the Filipino masses during his time, still remains unrealized until this very moment. His call and challenge to protest against the "structures of injustice that have been imposed upon helpless Filipinos " is still relevant, necessary and practical in our times, unless his son (Benigno Semion "Noynoy" Aquino III) will make a radical system change in his administration:

Free to choose, criticize and remove our duly elected governors?
Free from the imprisoning walls of ignorance, poverty and disease?
Free from the exploitation of a privileged and propertied few?
Free from the entangling webs of super-power hegemony, imperialism and neo-colonialism?

Although at present President Noynoy is trying his best to put GMA and her cohorts in jail but will this resolve poverty, un-employment, imperialism, neo-colonialism, ignorance, exploitation of a privileged and propertied few? The poverty of the working class and many is rooted from the very socio-economic capitalist system itself and unless this system is change into its opposite, it will continue to disturb Marx, Lenin, Engels and Ninoy from their graves.

Ninoy's Testament From A Prison Cell and other writings points to the fact that if there were no poverty and oppression, there would be no Revolutionary Left in the Philippines.

Here’s what Ninoy wrote:

“My duty, as I see it, is to tell our people that we must not only dream of a good and just society. We must resolve to make this dream come true…


Ninoy said: “I think I can best explain my ideology by excerpting from a Manifesto I wrote last year after my 40-day hunger strike… Part of that Manifesto reads as follows:

“Of a community of liberated citizens enjoying the full benefits of a Free Society:
Free to choose, criticize and remove our duly elected governors;
Free from the imprisoning walls of ignorance, poverty and disease;
Free from the exploitation of a privileged and propertied few
Free from the entangling webs of super-power hegemony, imperialism and neo-colonialism.”

“We are the people of God

“Endowed with reason – which lifts us from the brute – from which we derive our standards of morality, justice and the rational method of ascertaining our duty to our fellowmen and our community.

“Endowed with a free will – slave to no one, save our Maker. Exercising our free will, we enter into an agreement with all citizens on basic and fundamental tenets, to which we all adhere – and which we pledge to protect – to further the commonweal and our communal interests.

“A Free Society reconciles liberty and equality; rejects liberal freedom without equality and total equality without freedom. Its essence is the absence of special privilege. Its guarantee is an equal opportunity for self-fulfillment for every citizen. It is dynamic, not static, open to change, be it gradual or rapid, for no one possesses the last word, and the world of men and nature is in constant flux.

“Labor is the most effective human principle; social interest the fundamental stimulus to economic activity. Ultimately, all basic and strategic means of production must come under social ownership to ensure equitable proration of the national wealth and to safeguard the national interest.

“The Dialectic of Power and Resistance is one of the greatest motive forces of history. Power produces conflict and conflict between antagonistic forces gives rise to ever new solutions.

“An Opposition Party is indispensable in a democracy. The opposition should act as the critic of the party in power, developing, defining, and presenting the policy alternatives which are necessary for a true choice in pubic decision-making. It must, therefore, be guaranteed not only protection but existence, and must be allowed to speak freely and unafraid.

“A Free Media, the most effective vehicle for untrammeled discussion, mutual criticism and refutation, is imperative if we are to prevent the entrenching of error.

“A Truly Representative Parliament is a natural friend of liberty and an ‘unrestrained executive magistracy’ is a natural enemy of freedom. The delicate system of checks and balances and the strict separation of powers are indispensable to a republican form of government.

“Underdevelopment is the consequence of a capitalist system that perpetuates poverty and attendant human misery, of social structures based on gross inequalities in social well-being, privilege and power. This system must be replaced.

“Tyrants succeed not because they are really strong but because the citizens are weak and indifferent. Threatened with various sanctions and ‘invitations to Crame,’ the intimidated masses cower in fear and supinely agree to pay for a false freedom with their basic civil liberties.

“Only when a man has learned to fear nothing but the scruples of his conscience is he truly free. If he is ready to die, who can threaten him with death?

“The Essence of the Democratic Faith is that through the continuing process of political education, men and women can become sufficiently reasonable to discover, with evidence and the give-and-take of free discussion, a better way of solving common problems.

“The Philosophy of Democracy rests not on the belief in the natural goodness of man but his educability, not in the inevitability of social progress but in the potentialities of nature and intelligence.

“In the end, we get the government we deserve! No social or political organization can be better than the quality of the men and women who compose it. The quality of their lives will be determined by their visions, their courage and their fortitude.

“Governments may sink to depths lower than their source; they cannot rise higher!

“To remain steadfast, un-intimidated, and to risk jail rather than see our liberties nibbled away.
“To speak out and denounce rampant injustices. Justice can be realized only when ‘those who have not been victimized become as outraged as those who have been.’

“To help our fellowmen help themselves by removing the barriers of poverty, ignorance and disease that have stunted their growth for ages. Give them the tools and show them how best they can help themselves. A viable and a truly lasting revolution requires not only the overthrow of an oppressive external order but the continuing struggle for the minds, hearts and souls of men.

“To impose upon ourselves the supreme obligation to crystallize and effectuate a determined and a committed opposition to the oppressive order, because, tragedy of tragedies, we have become a nation with a history as dangerous to forget as it is painful to remember.”

Clearly, then, the laban of Ninoy needs to be continued for it is not so much his as it is that of all the Filipino people, the whole nation, and the guarantee for its success is nowhere else but in the deepest meaning of that very word itself: laban, lakas ng bayan – the power of the people, people power.

In this sense, touching on the last point of our sharing today, the Noynoy candidacy has become a historical necessity, demanded by a people searching at last for a modicum of political decency, which in their innate wisdom they have found in the Aquino trinity of Ninoy’s martyrdom, Cory’s selfless sacrifices and, today, Noynoy’s readiness to become the instrument of the people’s inevitable advance toward the “Free Society” his father lived and died for.

The “Free Society”: Nothing less than a First World Philippines
Ninoy, of course was best known for his anti-authoritarian tenacity. In the minds of most this was what he died for. But many of those who had long talks with him or were close to him will not easily forget the socio-political philosophy that fueled his political ambition.

In short he wanted to see nothing less than the transformation of the Philippines from “a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses remain abjectly poor…a land consecrated to democracy but run by an entrenched plutocracy… a people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfillment is low and mainly restricted to the self-perpetuating elite” to one that could really claim to be socially just, politically sovereign, and economically prosperous – a First World country at last – or what he called the “Free Society” because there people would be “free from the imprisoning walls of ignorance, poverty and disease”, “free from the exploitation of a privileged and propertied few”, “free from the entangling webs of super-power hegemony, imperialism and neo-colonialism”, and, therefore, first of all, “free to choose, criticize and remove our duly elected governors.”

(Source: Charles Avila, 11.2009 Bibliographical Sources: Ninoy Aquino's Testament From a Prison Cell by Benigno S. Aquino Jr (1984), Readings in Ideology, Ed. By Chares Avila (1986)
#1 John Lana 2011-08-06 07:43
07 Aug. 2011

Political detainees/political prisoners are not common criminals. They don't give their life for personal interest. They have been fighting for a legitimate cause for the greatest good of the greatest number of people and no amount of incarceration can water down the burning zeal of every concerned and conscious Filipinos for system change because there was and is something wrong with socio-economic and political system.

Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, one of the most outspoken magistrates of the high court , and pillar of human and civil rights, declared that poverty is the greatest terrorist not only in the Philippines but the entire civilized world as well.

People , he said, who are driven by extreme poverty, and in need of immediate survival for himself and his family especially, the option to commit crime and get money for survival comes to play. Supreme Court Chief Justice Puno said:

“If you come to the various dimensions of this problem of poverty, you will come to the conclusion that poverty is the cause of so many crimes, it is almost the mother of all causes of crimes in the world."

“A country may enjoy the first generation of human and political rights , but if the people are suffering from poverty, all these civil and political rights are nothing to them.”

“You may tell a poor man that he has the right and liberty to travel anytime anywhere in the world, but if he has no money, this right means nothing to him,” Puno said.

“You cannot tell a poor man about his right to participate in our political process, of being able to vote and be voted upon because if he has no money to pay for a decent education, this political right means nothing to him,” Puno added.

Concerned citizens, freedom fighters, human rights advocates and revolutionaries have one common cause and that is to free everyone from the yoke of poverty, exploitation and oppression while reactionary government wants them jailed and preserve the existing socio-economic and political order.

As proven by history that no amount of death and incarceration can stop the fire and zeal of everyone for pushing towards system change for social justice and unless the yoke of poverty is broken, there will always be freedom fighters, human rights advocates and revolutionaries in the world.


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