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Malacañang meets with supporters and relatives of Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike
On Political Prisoners
Thursday, 18 August 2011 09:32
Malacañang meets with supporters and relatives of Political Prisoners on Hunger Strike

On the 23rd day of political prisoners’ hunger strike protest (August 16, 2011), Malacañang finally meets with members of civil society organizations to discuss the plight of the more than 300 political prisoners in the country.

“Finally Malacañang has decided to look into the plight of political prisoners languishing in jails nationwide.  We hope that this dialogue results in the revival of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon and the speedy processing of the release of political prisoners,” Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) said.     

The meeting was the government’s response to the calls of the political prisoners led by those at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) that started their self starvation protest last July 25, 2011 coinciding with President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The hunger strikers demanded for the government to draft a clear national human rights program, to release all political prisoners and to institute prison reforms particularly the amendment of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) guidelines.

It was also triggered by the death of Mariano Umbrero, the cancer stricken political prisoner who was granted executive clemency four days after he died.

Led by human rights groups Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), Medical Action Group (MAG) and Balay Rehabilitation Center, together with peoples’ organizations and relatives of the hunger strikers, they appealed for government’s immediate action for the release of the political prisoners.

“We welcome the Presidential Human Rights Committee’s (PHRC) move to facilitate our meeting with concerned government agencies to discuss the political prisoners and the human rights community’s issues, especially now that the health condition of the hunger strikers deteriorates as they reach the 23rd day of their hunger strike,” Amistad said.

“President Aquino should sincerely listen to the hunger strikers’ calls.  While the government may create mechanisms for the release of political prisoners, we still challenge PNoy to use his executive power to grant unconditional releases.  Political prisoners are all victims of injustice and political incarceration of the past administrations; they deserve freedom, nothing less,” Amistad added.    

According to the group, they are pushing for the resumption of the review of the Presidential Committee on Bail Recognizance and Pardon or PCBREP which was created during the term of former president Fidel V. Ramos and eventually reconstituted in the last quarter of former President Gloria Arroyo’s term of office.

Meanwhile, General Danny Lim and Bishop Nilo Tayag will visit today the hunger strikers at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to show solidarity.  Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the CBCP NASSA, meanwhile released to the media this Saturday their official statement calling for President Aquino to free all victims of political incarceration.

Also joining the dialogue are leaders of Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), Partido ng Manggagawa (PM), Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD)  and REHAS. ###

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Last Updated on Thursday, 18 August 2011 09:36
 

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