One week before International Human Rights Day, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno joined a protest in front of the Department of Justice main office in Manila to call for the immediate release of political prisoners.
The labor group said Pres. Noynoy Aquino, despite being a son of a former political prisoner, shows no compassion towards the 504 political prisoners in the country, 208 of whom were arrested under his term.
“The number of political prisoners arrested under Aquino shows that he is like previous presidents in being repressive towards political dissent. Being a son of a former political prisoner and of so-called icons of democracy does not make him different from previous presidents,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson.
The labor leader called attention to the plight of the so-called “Courage 2,” Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano, two staff members of government employees’ center Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees or COURAGE who were illegally arrested two years ago and continue to be detained over trumped-up charges.
“The continuing imprisonment of political prisoners Vegas and Camposano is a continuing attack on the country’s trade-union movement. There is no reason for the Courage 2 to stay in prison any minute longer,” Ustarez added.
He said the two are being detained on the basis of fabricated charges over their alleged involvement in raids carried out by the New People’s Army in the Bicol and Cordillera regions in 2012.
“The case of the Courage 2 shows how the Aquino government keeps activists in prison on the basis of fabricated charges. Political prisoners’ human rights are being violated on the basis of wild allegations and implausible evidence,” Ustarez added.
The soldier who claims to be a witness to the alleged raid states that he was able to identify Vegas and Camposano because the NPA forces allegedly shouted their names before firing their weapons at the military.
Ustarez also called for the immediate release of consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines or NDFP who are in detention, saying their continuing imprisonment shows the Aquino government’s militaristic approach to the ongoing armed insurgency in the country and its sabotage operations of the peace talks.
Reference: Lito Ustarez, KMU vice-chairperson, 0908-6491992