NDFP Media Office
December 2, 2016
Some 15 released consultants and staff of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) will go on sympathy fast and hunger strike starting tomorrow to dramatize the call for the release of all political prisoners.
The NDFP consultants and staff will take turns in joining political prisoners in detention facilities nationwide as well as relatives and supporters of the detainees who will be fasting for the first four days, and go on hunger strike for another four days until December 10. Fasting and hunger strike centers will be set up in Mendiola, Manila and other areas all over the country for this purpose.
The nationwide protest is being launched even as a political prisoner died from a massive stroke four days ago. Bernabe Ocasla, who was detained on trumped-up multiple murder charges for nine years, was on a list of 130 ailing and elderly political prisoners provided by human rights groups to the peace panel of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) after the latter said that it would prioritize them for release. The GRP, however, later reduced the number to 70.
GRP peace panel chief Silvestre Bello III’s response to news about Ocasla’s death was to express sympathy with his family and announce that the GRP may further reduce the number of political prisoners for humanitarian release to as low as 50 and that their self-imposed deadline for the releases would be moved from the end of November to December 10.
The GRP has been missing its own deadlines and providing variable numbers of detainees it intends to release since president-elect Rodrigo Duterte first pledged to free all of the nation’s more than 400 political prisoners last May through general amnesty.
Despite numerous pronouncements from the GRP, not a single political prisoner has been released through the peace process since 19 NDFP consultants and staff were freed on bail last August.
In a statement, the NDFP stressed that the release of political prisoners is not merely a goodwill measure but a matter of justice and compliance with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law which both parties signed in 1998. ###
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