Gov’t accountable for
death of political detainee
SELDA to Duterte:
Release the 400 now!
November 28, 2016
QUEZON CITY – SELDA (Samahan
ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) demanded the Duterte
administration the immediate release of 400 political detainees
following the death of Bernabe Ocasla, Monday afternoon.
“The Duterte administration
is accountable for the death of Ocasla, who should have been released
along with more than a hundred ailing political detainees as soon as
it assumed office. This is the tragic result of the government’s
deliberate delays and excuses in the release of political prisoners,”
said Fr. Dionito Cabillas, SELDA spokesperson.
Selda and other rights
groups have been calling for the release of Ocasla, 66, who went into
a coma after suffering a heart attack on Friday, November 25. He has
been languishing in jail for seven years, and was detained at the
Manila City Jail on trumped-up charges of 15 counts of multiple
murder. Calls for the immediate release of more than a hundred
political prisoners who are ailing and elderly on humanitarian grounds
is continuously denied by the government.
He is one of the co-accused
of NDFP peace consultants Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Tiamzon, Randall
Echanis, Rafael Baylosis, Vicente Ladlad, and Adelberto Silva on
trumped up charges of multiple murder cases filed by the Armed Forces
of the Philippines pending before Manila Regional Trial Court Branch
“Ocasla just came from his
court hearing the day before he suffered a heart attack, optimistic
and hopeful for their freedom. He, however, is a ticking time bomb
since, with his hypertension and partial blindness. There are more
Bernabe Ocaslas who are suffering inside detention centers. Their
health conditions are rapidly deteriorating for lack of proper medical
attention and subhuman jail conditions. Most importantly, they should
not be in jail in the first place,” said Cabillas.
More than one-thirds of the
400 political prisoners are sick, a number of them are already old. In
previous years, political prisoners like Alison Alcantara, Benny Barid
and Eduardo Serrano died while under the custody of the state.
Serrano, who died last January, would have been one of the released
NDFP consultants this year, after formal peace talks between the GRP
and the NDFP resumed in July.
Office of the Presidential
Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza and GRP panel
chairman Secretary Silvestre Bello III have been announcing the
release of political prisoners since they assumed office.
“Sec. Dureza even has the
gall to say they’ve released 70 political prisoners while those with
life-threatening illnesses like Ocasla gamble with death. This is far
from truth. We don’t need their empty grandstanding, what we demand is
the release of all political prisoners, alive and granted amnesty.
Release the 400! Amnesty now!” said Cabillas.