“My continued detention (until today) shows that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is not serious in lifting the suspension of the Jasig. There is political pressure to keep me in jail. But they are no match against the mass movement who spared no effort in their support,” Principe said.
By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
MANILA — Political detainee Elizabeth Principe walked out of the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame at 4:25 in the afternoon of July 21, a full two weeks after the fourth and last of the criminal charges against her was dismissed by a Regional Trial Court in Nueva Vizcaya.
Wearing a blue blouse, smiling broadly and raising a clenched fist, Principe walked out of her jail accompanied by daughter Lorena Santos and welcomed at the gate by Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza.
On the day of her release, Principe started a hunger strike which was accompanied by a sympathy strike by all women detainees at the custodial center. The hunger strike subsequently spread throughout the center. She is the “mayora” (leader) of the women detainees at Camp Crame.
Principe revealed that her latest release order reached the PNP Custodial Center last July 14, which was forwarded to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group last July 15. Her release was approved by CIDG last July 20 but instead of releasing her, the PNP submitted the order to the Armed Forces of the Philippines “for comment.”
Elizabeth Principe and daughter Lorena Santos celebrate. View more pictures. Watch video. (Photo by Raymund B. Villanueva / bulatlat.com)
Santos and Principe’s lawyers asked the PNP what legal basis was there to justify the move.
“I owe no debt of gratitude to this government for my release. I owe my freedom to the mass movement and my lawyers,” Principe said.
Visibly elated by her release, Principe said that she is “happy to be back in the larger society.”
“After one year and seven months in detention, I am raring to rejoin the struggle against this unjust regime and social system,” she added.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced that the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees is again operational starting July 17.
“My continued detention (until today) shows that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines is not serious in lifting the suspension of the Jasig. There is political pressure to keep me in jail. But they are no match against the mass movement who spared no effort in their support,” she said.
Principe said her fellow political detainees at the custodial center asked her to work for their release as well. Still in detention are political prisoners Randall Echanis, Eduardo Serrano, Eduardo Sarmiento, Angelina Ipong, Prospero Agudo, among others.
She said that she is ready to participate in the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in her capacity as consultant for the latter.
“I now rejoin the movement to oust Gloria Arroyo,” Principe said. (With reports from Ronalyn Olea / bulatlat.com)