NDF peace consultants
detained at the Philippine National Police
Custodial Center, Camp Crame
3 June 2012
We, Ramon Patriarca's fellow detained NDF peace consultants, deplore his continuing subjection to cruel isolation, reprisals and repression at the Camp Lapu-Lapu, Cebu headquarters of the Visayas Central Command (CENCOM) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). It was there where he was secretly brought to, heavily and cruelly tortured, and held incommunicado for four years in a secret jail. He was surreptitiously returned there last January 25 to again be given the same treatment he suffered since his abduction, torture and other punishments by the 78th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IB, PA) way back in 2005.
A writ of amparo, obtained in his behalf when he was finally located at Camp Lapu-Lapu in 2009, obliged the PA to surface him. He then filed charges against his military abductors for the severe torture and other violations of his human rights committed by the 78th IBPA.
He was transferred to an open, regular police jail in Danao City where his family, friends, lawyers, supporters, and human rights advocates could freely visit, protect and support him.
Moved by the repression and miseries of the detainees there, he politicalized and organized them and became their leader. This, despite intensive and dirty efforts of jail authorities there to undermine his influence and leadership, to put up their own stooge, and to try to continue controlling the detainees' own organization. Under his leadership, detainees there launched struggles they had not gone through before, including fastings, to demand the release of all political prisoners, the respect of human rights, and the humanitarian consideration of the welfare of detainees.
As a result of these struggles, the detainees won, among others an increase of their food budget from PhP15.00 to PhP30.00 per day and the launching of an Alternative Learning System for the remedial education of fellow detainees.
But, instead of appreciating and supporting such efforts to help improve the lives and welfare of detainees even as they are still in jail, the prison and local government authorities felt all the more threatened by the detainees' struggles and victories, and connived to make foul and dirty manuevers to have Patriarca surreptitiously removed from the Danao City Jail and returned to the hands of his original abductors and torturers.
In protest against the isolation, reprisals and intensification of repressions he has been made to undergo for the last three months so far at the hidden jail he was returned to, and with a demand to be immediately removed from there, Patriarca has launched an indefinite hunger strike.
We salute Patriarca for his courageous stand and determined struggle. Together with all other political prisoners and all those committed to the struggle for freedom, democracy, justice, human rights, people's progress and peace, we send him our solidarity as he goes on hunger strike.
We call on the government of Benigno S. Aquino III to immediately rectify the violations of Patriarca's rights, at the same time as we call for the rectification of the continuing detention of NDF peace consultants, including Patriarca, in violation of the standing Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), which is supposed to protect peace consultants from such antagonistic acts as arrest, detention and repression.
We also call on the government of Benigno S. Auino III to immediately rectify the similar continued detention, isolation and repression of another JASIG-protected NDF peace consultant, Tirso Alcantara, who has been kept in a hidden jail at the Philippine Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio for about two years now.
It has become more and more difficult to see sincerity in the peace process on the part of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) under Benigno S. Aquino III, given the way it has been treating the likes of Patriarca and Alcantara, and the way it insists on keeping NDF peace consultants in jail and subjecting them to various forms and degrees of human rights violations and repression, and inspite of their JASIG protection.
The GPH's further treatment of detained NDF peace consultants, and whether or not it will insist on detaining them further, will be crucial in showing if it is still interested at all in peace talks with the NDF.