Progressive groups call for release of political prisoners

Karapatan photo

Members of progressive groups trooped to the Hall of Justice in Bacolod City today, December 3, for a silent protest to call on the government to release political prisoners.

“Amid the environment of extreme political persecution and criminal negligence of the Duterte regime, political prisoners in the Philippines continue to languish in jails because of trumped-up charges, political harassment and criminalization of political dissent,” said Clarizza Singson, secretary-general of Karapatan Negros, a human rights group.

She said that there are 94 political prisoners in Negros Island who are languishing in different jails, adding that all of them were arrested under the Duterte administration.

She claimed that the political prisoners were victims of trumped-up charges as the “island was turned into a laboratory of fabricated charges orchestrated by this fascist and tyrannical administration against its opposition, critics, and activists.”

“All these executive orders, accompanied by the ploy of red-tagging or maliciously linking activists to proscribed organizations like the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army have triggered mass arrests and worsening rights violations, including outright extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of human rights activists,” Singson added.

She also said that because of the strict implementation of community lockdowns, the political prisoners suffer in the truest sense as their visitation rights were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“It is time to call for their immediate release, most especially the elderly, sick and pregnant and nursing women, who are the most vulnerable in this life-threatening pandemic,” she added.

She said that the severe condition of the country’s political prisoners is heartbreaking and enraging.

Karina Dela Cerna is the youngest political prisoner in the country as she was only 18 years old when she was arrested in the crackdown of activists in 2019, she said. *

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