Hungry for Justice and Freedom

March 1, 2007 at 2:49 am | Posted in Human Rights | Leave a comment

On February 20, 2007, the 298th day of our abduction and prolonged undeserved detention we, the Tagaytay 5, are launching our prison protest – so that justice and truth may reign, freedom be regained, and prisoners’ rights be respected. On this day, we shall start an indefinite fast here in the Base Police Detention Cell of the Philippine National Police – Police Regional Office 4A (PNP-PRO4A), Camp Vicente Lim, Canlubang, Laguna.

We have suffered and endured for 10 long months. The PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines units were quite quick in abducting and robbing us on that fateful sundown of April 28, 2006 on the basis of hearsay, but were ironically quite poor and painfully slow in processing their baseless accusations imputed against the Tagaytay 5. The Cavite PNP and the PRO4A – Regional Intelligence and Investigation Division (RIID) even resorted to incriminatory machinations, such as planting evidences, and yet to this very day have miserably failed to produce even one shred of evidence to prove their malicious allegations and trumped-up charges so as to slyly cover-up their illegal seizure of almost PhP800,000.00 of funds for rural development projects and other valuable personal belongings.

The incumbent Department of Justice (DOJ), through its prosecutor’s office in Tagaytay, hurriedly yielded to a moro-moro inquest before midnight of May 2, 2006 virtually at gunpoint of a heavily-armed company of PNP personnel so as to legitimize a patently illegal abduction, detention, human rights violations and other crimes. The decision on the preliminary investigation undertaken by the DOJ – commissioned prosecutor (now attorney) Rodel Paderayon last June – July 2006 on Enrico Y. Ybañez and Michael M. Masayes just towed the PNP line that the Tagaytay 5 were New People’s Army guerillas out to stabilize the Arroyo regime, despite the voluminous testimonies of people who have intimate personal knowledge on the personal history of the two who were wrongfully accused with the three others. Prosecutor Paderayon just played on a tragic comedia woven around a pack of laughable lies and fantastic claims of lower-ranked policemen who were just obeying orders from higher-ups to testify… or else. Prosecutor Paderayon performed so well as a persecutor much like a Roman centurion in the olden days. And as if to rub more salt to gaping torture wounds and scars, our abductors, human rights violators and highwaymen in uniform at that, were promoted, commended and awarded with citations by PNP higher-ups.
What an irony, what an injustice!

We have agonized for almost 300 days under prison condition tantamount to cruel and undue punishment even if we are still detainees awaiting trial. We have been deprived of basic necessities – sunning, medical attention, outdoor exercises. Even the joy of walking a reasonable distance daily was denied to us because, as the PNP black propaganda goes, the Tagaytay 5 are “high-risk and high-profile detainees” and that the detention center in Canlubang is not a regular detention facility but just a temporary “holding center”. Even our relatives, visitors and supporters are made to suffer similar psychological anguish and deprivation – there is no visitors’ area; private medical personnel are asked to secure a court order to conduct routine check-ups on the detainees; visitors, even Commission on Human Rights commissioners, Senators and Congressmen were made to talk to detainees standing behind the steel bars! The visits of our beloved relatives are cut-short on the moods of the guards. All these are forms of cruel and undue treatment and punishment of prisoners, which was recently lamented by no less than CHR Commissioner Wilhelm Soriano. And the truth of the matter is that we are already being punished for alleged crimes, which we never committed against our people, and for malicious imputations, which the government and the PNP will never be able to prove.

Thus, under these slow and deceptive yet tragic justice system, aggravated by the cruel and undue treatment of political detainees, we are constrained to resort to concerted effort, in an urgent bid to gain truth, justice and freedom.

The Tagaytay 5 will go on a Fast for Justice and Freedom as an act of protest to stress the strikingly obvious fact that political prisoners exist under the Arroyo regime and that they are victims of miscarriage of justice, in various forms and levels. Our Fast for Justice and Freedom will be an indictment of the slow and deceptive judicial system, and of cruel prison system as a whole, which deprives political prisoners of their basic rights and defiles human dignity, whether those prisoners may be civilians, NPA guerillas, MILF mujahideens or AFP patriotic officers and men. Our Fast is also our manner of commemorating and reliving the spirit of EDSA 1986, which delivered our country from state terrorism and fascist dictatorship only to be revived 20 years later under the current regime.

Indeed, fascism and terrorism never left our country with Marcos. They are convenient tools of a panic-stricken regime, faced with utter political isolation from its own people. Through this Fast for justice and freedom, we convey our profound solidarity with the democratic mass movement against the lying, cheating, stealing and killing machine of Arroyo and her fascist minions.

The Tagaytay 5 will pursue this Fast to gain our freedom forcibly taken by our abductors 300 days ago. We shall pursue this prison protest action for the sake of our families, children, parents and other loved ones who have agonized with our dire predicament; also for the members of the various organizations in which we belong and serve.

BUT NOT ONLY FOR THEM!

This Fast for justice and freedom of the Tagaytay 5 is also for:

  • All those who have been summarily executed or extra-judicially killed or involuntarily disappeared under the Arroyo regime, for they shall never have their day in court and will never be able to tell their tales of horror;
  • Hon. Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel’ Beltran, Anakpawis Party List Representative, who is forcibly detained in a hospital, who also has to be released in order for him to dispense with his parliamentary duties and other tasks, but who may not be able to join us in this sacrifice due to his poor health conditions;
  • All political prisoners in the various prisons, who have been victims of miscarriage of justice in its various forms and levels; particularly to the Mamburao 6 (peasant leaders from Occidental Mindoro who were wrongfully convicted); Antipolo 4, 11 other prisoners in Quezon, and Eduardo “Edik” Serrano (imprisoned in Calapan Provincial Jail), who were all wrongfully charged with common crimes, despite the political nature of their “offenses”;
  • All officers and men of AFP imprisoned in various AFP camps, wrongfully accused of coup d’ etat and/or mutiny, and who are now languishing under more brutal bartolina and solitary confinement to break them down and be deceived into testifying against one another, and continuously deprived of their basic rights despite the fact that they only denounce the pervasive lying, cheating and stealing in their midst.

In undertaking this painstaking sacrifice, we know fully well that truth and our people are on our side.

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