An organization of political prisoners added its voice to the condemnation of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s issuance of executive clemency to convicted murderer Claudio Teehankee.
Donato Continente, spokesperson for political prisoners of Selda (Society of Ex-Detainees against Detention and for Amnesty), said, “How easy it is for this government to free a child killer while political prisoners continue to languish in jail!”
Political prisoner Elizabeth Principe, a consultant of the NDFP for the peace process issued a statement from her prison cell in Camp Crame Custodial Center, “This is an upside down government. Those people who offer their lives to the masses are suffering to rot in jail yet the wealthy criminals can walk as free men.”
Principe said, “This just shows that this government tolerates heinous crimes while service to the people is categorized as crime.”
According to Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights), there are 225 political prisoners, 198 of whom have been detained under Arroyo’s administration.
Selda is also outraged that the Arroyo government did not abide by the Second Oslo joint statement of April 3, 2004. As part of confidence-building measures in its peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Arroyo government approved the release of 31 political prisoners.
Karapatan data show that of the 31 political prisoners, only seven were released through the peace talks. Twelve of them have either served their sentence or their cases were dismissed on their own merit, said Karapatan.
Continente said the Arroyo government has set a ‘double standard in our justice system.’
Continente added, “The release of Teehankee in the dead of the night exposed the folly of accommodating political sympathizers while subjecting her ardent critics to severe repression through arbitrary arrests, torture and detention.” (Bulatlat.com)