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Ailing political prisoner finally released, but on bail, wishes freedom for the rest of PPs

By SELDA
December 19, 2016

QUEZON CITY – Ramon Argente, now 57, was all smiles when he met human rights workers upon his release on December 15, 2016. Upon arrival in Manila, he went straight to the Philippine Heart Center for a check-up. This is where he underwent a heart bypass surgery in 2013. Argente was happy, but has one wish: that the rest of the political prisoners be released soon.

“Hanggang sa kasalukuyan ay hindi pa rin ako ganap na nakaka-recover sa karamdaman. Sa tagal nang maysakit ay kahapon lang nakalaya, sa bisa pa ng pagpiyansa. (Until now, I have not yet fully recovered from my illness. I have been sick for a long time, but I was only released yesterday, but through bail),” said Argente, who was granted bail by the RTC Branch 64 in Labo, Camarines Norte.

One of the 130 ailing political prisoners, Argente was detained for more than three years on the basis of trumped-up charges of multiple counts of murder, theft and frustrated murder. Hehad a triple heart bypass operation in 2013. After the surgery, he was brought back to detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

“Nananawagan (ako) sa administrasyong Duterte na tuparin ang kanyang pangako bago pa siya makapanumpa. Nagpahayag na siyang handang palayain ang mga bilanggong pulitikal ganoon din ang pagpapalaya sa mga maysakit katulad ko, at iyong mga bilanggong matatanda...mga bilanggong pulitikal na matagal nang nakakulong maging iyong mga kababaihan. (I call on President Duterte to fulfill his promises before he swore into office. He said he is ready to release political prisoners including those who are ill like me, and the elderly prisoners...and political prisoners who have spent a long time in prison, even the women),” said Argente.

Now 57, Argente is a peasant organizer from San Pablo, Del Gallego, Camarines Sur. He has coronary artery disease and was undergoing medication when he was arrested in February 18, 2013 in Brgy. Muson, Bauan, Batangas.

He remained in a fragile condition while in jail, experiencing difficulty in breathing and chest pains. Argente was undergoing medication when he was arrested. His health worsened while detained at the Camarines Norte Provincial Jail. It took six months before his motion for hospitalization was granted.

At least 400 political prisoners remain in detention, the recent political prisoners released after the courts ordered them released, or granted bail. None has been released by the Duterte administration through general amnesty, after the courts granted temporary release on bail to 19 NDFP consultants.

“Sana po suportahan din natin ang pagpapatuloy ng usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas at National Democratic Front. (I hope we also support the continuation of the peace talks between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front),” Argente added.