Release of all political prisoners, not mere 50—CPP

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said it rejects the plan of the Duterte government to release a mere 50 political prisoners by the end of December. The plan was announced by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III who is also the GRP’s chief negotiator with the NDFP.

“Justice demands that all 432 remaining political prisoners be released immediately,” said the CPP. “Every additional second that political prisoners remain incarcerated add to the grave injustices which they have been made to suffer throughout the years in jail.”

“The release of political prisoners is taking way too long,” said the CPP. The releases were originally expected to be carried out on the last week of October before the original date of the signing of a bilateral ceasefire agreement. “Worse, surveillance, harassments and arrests against activists persist.”

“Even the release on humanitarian grounds is unduly being delayed,” said the CPP. “The death last Monday of peasant activist Bernabe Ocasla from Eastern Visayas rouses the people’s indignation against the Duterte regime for its failure to release the elderly and sickly political prisoners.”

“Ocasla was detained for almost nine years without ever being convicted,” pointed out the CPP. He died at the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital afTer suffering from cardiac arrest. He was 66. The CPP extends its sympathies with the family and colleagues of Ka Bernabe.

“The expectation which the Duterte government raised by signing the August 26 Oslo joint statement with the NDFP was that all political prisoners will be released promptly and en masse through the issuance of a presidential amnesty proclamation,” said the CPP.

“It has also been made clear by the CPP and NDFP that the bilateral ceasefire being sought by the GRP can only be forged if all political prisoners will be released and all fascist troops of the AFP will be withdrawn from the barrio centers in the guerrilla zones in the course of its Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency operations,” added the CPP.

“By releasing all political prisoners, the Duterte regime can demonstrate to the Filipino people its commitment to fulfill the current and future obligations in peace negotiations with the NDFP,” pointed out the CPP.

“The planned release of a mere 40-50 political prisoners is an unacceptable token,” said the CPP. “Worse, they are being made to go through a tedious legal process which add to their agonizing legal ordeal after being made to face trumped up criminal charges, typically, possession of explosives which are unbailable.”

“The revolutionary forces are extending their patience and giving the Duterte regime up to the month of January to comply with its obligation to release all political prisoners,” said the CPP. “The Duterte regime’s compliance will be taken as an indication of its ability to stand by its word.”

“If it fails, the Duterte regime will not only forego the possibility of forging a bilateral ceasefire agreement, but will risk cutting short as well the mutual interim ceasefire declarations with the NDFP, especially amid the continuing military deployments and operations in the countryside.”

Release of all political prisoners, not mere 50—CPP