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Aquino urged to show sincerity in pursuing peace and free prisoners

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : Rights groups participated in the “Global Day of Action to Free Sharon Cabusao and all political prisoners in The Philippines” on July 2 to send an urgent appeal to the Commission on Human Rights for the release of political prisoners who were mostly illegally arrested. 

In Quezon City, members of the Free Sharon Cabusao Campaign held a rally outside the Commission on Human Rights to air their complaint against the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of The Philippines for the illegal arrest and detention of Sharon Cabusao, a former secretariat officer of Gabriela, who was arrested with her husband Adelberto Silva and their aide Isidro de Lima on June 1 in Bacoor, Cavite..

Emmi de Jesus of the Gabriela Women’s Party, the spokesperson of the campaign, said that they would like to call the attention of the new head of the commission, Jose Gascon, on the multiple violations of human rights of Cabusao, Silva and de Lima. “Aside from the fact that Sharon and Isidro were arrested without warrant, they were also forced to be subjected to a DNA swabbing against their will,” she said in a statement on July 2.

She pointed out that in many cases of recent mass arrests of activists, the arresting officers present a warrant for one person, yet they will arrest all individuals within the same venue. In most cases, they also plant evidence which  makes an offence non-bailable, such as explosives.

She challenged Gascon to immediately respond with an investigation of the arrested and release the results in the soonest possible time so that their recommendations may be submitted to the Philippine president, Noynoy Aquino, for immediate consideration.

“We do not want the investigation of Sharon’s case to lag like what happened to the Morong 43 investigation which was released after almost five years. Sharon’s health condition could not afford delays,” de Jesus said, adding that  Cabusao is currently under alternative medical treatment for thyroid and blood-related diseases. 

Luzviminda Ilagan, another Gabriela Women’s Party Representative, said in a statement on June 23 that the recent government’s statement on resuming peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of The Philippines (NDFP) should be taken with a grain of salt.

She said Philippine president has to prove his sincerity in pursuing peace negotiations as the government continues to detain 527 political prisoners. Among them, 48 women are legitimate holders of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), peace consultants, women with illnesses or mothers nursing their infants.

“If the government is truly keen on pursuing peace as it claims, then it should demonstrate its intent and good will by setting all political prisoners free especially women detainees in need of medical attention,” she said, referring to the cases of Cabusao as well as Miradel Torres, Moreta Alegre and Wilma Tiamzon.

According to her, Torres is a nursing mother and a Gabriela member arrested while she was pregnant in Mauban, Quezon and accused of fabricated charges.

Alegre, now 68, is an old detainee convicted along with husband Jesus Alegre for murder charges in Negros Occidental.

Tiamzon, also accused of trumped up charges, is a holder of the JASIG which guarantees peace consultants’ safety and immunity from suit.

Ilagan and de Jesus, have filed two House Resolutions calling for the resumption of peace negotiations. 

 

In Hong Kong, Gabriela Hong Kong and other rights groups on the same day held a programme in Central including discussion and sharing on the condition of women political prisoners.