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Political prisoners in Southern Tagalog launch hunger strike; slam Arroyo's gov't spent hospital arrest

By KARAPATAN - Southern Tagalog
December 3, 2011

QUEZON CITY  –  To mark their protest against illegal arrest and injustice, political prisoners detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan will go through fasting starting today, Dec. 3, coinciding with the International Solidarity for the release of political prisoners.

The indefinite hunger strike and sympathy fasting of relatives with human rights group Karapatan - Southern Tagalog (ST) will be simultaneous with other political prisoners’ detained in Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon and Rizal provincial jails. This campaign on hunger strike also occurs in other detentions of political prisoners in different parts of the country.

A mass will be held at Camp Bagong Diwa at 9 A.M., followed by the start of the sympathy fasting.

“The funny thing about our country today is, the state keeps on putting innocent people in jail while thieves can leave the country. And while political prisoners die behind bars for made-up criminal charges, the biggest corrupt politician gets to enjoy a presidential suite in a private hospital,” said Glen Malabanan from KARAPATAN - ST.

According to news reports, the said suite in St. Luke’s Hospital, Taguig, where Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is confined, is worth P50,000 per day.  Some of the amenities inside the suite are a 42 inch plasma television, hot and cold water dispenser and DVD and VHS players. Arroyo also requested for a cellphone and laptop for internet access.

On the other hand, Nestor San Jose, a political detainee in Quezon Provincial Jail has died due to an illness while detained at the Quezon Provincial Jail last November 9 due to lack of health assistance by government.

In Batangas Provincial Jail, several family members of political prisoners will shave their heads while inmates will get a “Free all political prisoners” tattoo in solidarity to free all political prisoners.

“It’s a Filipino customary that once one family member suffers, the others suffer as well.  We call on to the government to free all political prisoners so that no family will suffer anymore,” said Bishop Arthur Asi of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Southern Luzon Jurisdiction.

The supporters and family members also stormed in front of Camp Crame today to denounced the continuing human rights violations in the region. Family members of victims - Lino Baez father of Noel Baez who was beaten and harassed by the military in Batangas after declining to be a CAFGU recruit; and the mothers of Billy Betrina and Maricon Montajes who were illegally arrested, along with four others from Batangas - supported the event.

Starting today, the simultaneous programs in different provincial jails and in Bicutan will start with protest actions at 10 A.M. and a 4 o’clock habit which is a regular noise barrage every 4 P.M.