The Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) strongly urge the Philippine government to immediately release all political prisoners even as we lament the failure of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to heed with dispatch the prisoners’ call for freedom. Prompt and favorable response by government could have averted the current hapless condition of the political prisoners who are now on the 19th day of their hunger strike.
There are 318 political prisoners and detainees who are still languishing in various detention facilities all over the country according to the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP). But the Philippine government continues to deny them political recognition by charging them with common criminal offenses. It is a clear breach of international human rights and humanitarian laws, especially the right to liberty as well as the international standards of fair trial and other rights of detained and confined persons.
We, the families and friends of the victims of enforced disappearance, support the call of the political prisoners on the Philippine government to rectify their erroneous arrest and deprivation of liberty to pave the way not only for their immediate release but also to open the door for us to find our disappeared loved ones.
Most if not all political prisoners, have invariably disclosed that they have been subjected to enforced disappearance and various acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment during the period of their arrest and custodial investigation. Some of them have been tortured to death like the case of the six PICOP (paper factory) workers in Agusan del Sur in the Southern Philippines whose tortured and lifeless bodies were burned to ashes by the members of the 62nd ID of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in October 2000.
While many among us would like to believe that our dear Desaparecidos are still unaccounted political prisoners, the possibility for those who have long been missing to have been mercilessly killed and unceremoniously dumped into some unmarked graves nags at our minds. Continue reading