Human rights advocates in Abra join call for release of political prisoners

By RONALD GUSTILO
www.nordis.net

BANGUED, Abra — Kakailian Salakniban Tay Amin a Nagtaudan, the Abra provincial chapter of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (Kastan CPA-Abra) and the Abra Human Rights Movement (AHRM) joins human rights groups in calling for the immediate release of political prisoners nationwide.

“We welcome President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s intention to release all political prisoners before the start of the peace talks. The move will give the prisoners immediate relief from their unjust condition. These political prisoners deserve to be freed,” said Villamor Pati, Kastan CPA-Abra chairperson.

The province of Abra used to have political detainees but were released after their cases were dismissed. Among them was Eduardo Esteban, a senior citizen and cancer survivor who was originally from Iloilo City. He was mistakenly and unjustly accused of several cases after he was illegally arrested for an arrest warrant for a certain Esteban Manuel.

“The junking of cases against political detainees here in Abra and elsewhere shows that the previous government, most specially the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has been filling cases against innocent individuals mostly due to the high amount of bounty for the arrest of alleged accused rebels on the basis of trumped up charges. We hope that President-elect Duterte will do-away with these kind of tactics that victimizes innocent people and being maximized by greedy and corrupt military and police officials,” said AHRM chairperson Monsignor Demetrio Batay-an, chairperson.

Duterte sees the release of political prisoners as way to show good will for the resumption of the peace talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). It is also part of his administration’s effort to honor previous agreements with the NDFP. 18 NDFP consultants are among the 543 political detainees languishing in jails nationwide including 8 in the Cordillera. Among them is Kennedy Bangibang, a NDFP consultant for the Cordillera. # nordis.net

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