DOJ to reconstitute PCBREP to review the release of political prisoners
On Political Prisoners
Sunday, 21 August 2011 09:45
August 21, 2011

DOJ to reconstitute PCBREP to review the release of political prisoners

In a meeting between the human rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) and the Department of Justice this Friday, Secretary Leila De Lima formally ordered the reconvening of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon (PCBREP) to start the review for the release of political prisoners in the country.

“We welcome DOJ’s decision to reconstitute PCBREP as a concrete mechanism to act on the releases of political prisoners in the country.  It was one of the concrete actions from the government to look into the plight of the political prisoners which the hunger strikers have been calling for,” Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP said.

According to Amistad, the political prisoners in the New Bilibid Prison decided to suspend their 24 day hunger strike indefinitely last August 17 to give way to the dialogue between human rights groups and the government led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and facilitated by the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC) last August 16 in Malacanang.

USec. Francisco Baraan pledged in the August 16 dialogue to recommend the immediate reconstitution of PCBREP to Secretary Leila De Lima who eventually informed TFDP during their meeting on Aug 19, Friday, that she finally ordered the PCBREP to reconvene immediately no later than September this year with USec Baraan as its head to start the review process.

“The hunger strike has paved the way for government’s prompt action and we commend DOJ for immediately acting on our appeal.  The political prisoners can now hope that they be given attention and their freedom be acted upon by the government. We don’t want another Tatay Umbrero who suffered government’s inability and failure to act immediately, ” said Sister Crescencia Lucero, sfic, Deputy Executive Director of TFDP.

The August 16 dialogue also resulted to the upcoming review of the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) guidelines on granting executive clemency and other matters like prison reforms. This has been brought about by the unfortunate incident of Mariano Umbrero, the cancer-stricken political prisoner who died four days before President Aquino signed his executive clemency last July.

“The political prisoners know this will not be the end of our continuous struggle for their freedom.  We need to persevere and closely monitor the process of PCBREP.  The human rights community, supporters and their relatives will be more active in pursuing justice and freedom for all victims of political detention in the country and assert that the government must be sincere in acting on their concerns,” Amistad concluded. 

There are now 306 political prisoners languishing in jails nationwide according to TFDP documentation as of August 2011.

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