GABRIELA Urges 2nd Aquino President Since Martial Law: Free Our Sisters! Free All Political Prisoners! (PR)

News Release
20 September 2010

A day before the commemoration of Martial Law, GABRIELA has this to say to Noynoy Aquino: “Be humane. Have mercy on Mercy.”

GABRIELA reiterates its call to the second Aquino president since the fall of Martial Law to release women and all political prisoners in the country. In particular, the militant women’s group highlights the case of Mercy Castro, one of two pregnant among the 43 health workers illegaly arrested and detained.

“Mercy is detained until now in Camp Bagong Diwa along with the rest of the 43. Like Judilyn, her pregnancy is high-risk as she is constantly subjected to stress and trauma in detention. Due to deliver her baby this October, we are concerned for her and her child’s welfare,” Joms Salvador, deputy secretary general of GABRIELA, expressed.

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Morong 43’s Judilyn Oliveros gave birth to a baby boy on July 22 at the Philippine General Hospital. Judilyn and baby went through harrowing ordeals being shuttled back and forth between PGH and Camp Bagong Diwa. “We do not want a repeat of what Judilyn and her child went through, and so we appeal on humanitarian grounds that Mercy and the child in her womb be spared from this kind of suffering,” Salvador said.

Mercy Castro, Judilyn Oliveros and the rest of the Morong 43 are only a few of the 370 political prisoners in the country today, 61 of which are women including community development worker Myrna Cruz-Abraham and activist and church worker Angie Ipong.

GABRIELA bewails the fact that 24 years since the end of Martial Law, standing up for the rights of the Filipino people and exercising the right to freedom of expression and to organize could still put one in prison.

“We have a president who knows firsthand how it was to lose a family to a politically repressive and fascist regime, but so far we see no sign that Aquino evokes the memory of his father, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino II, and grant justice to political prisoners languishing in various jails in the country,” Salvador lamented.

The women’s group also stands to remind Aquino that his mother, the late Pres. Corazon Aquino, released all political prisoners during her presidency in recognition that they were victims of the fascism of Ferdinand Marcos. “Our political prisoners today are no less the victims of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s rule, and it is quite disheartening that Aquino remains nonchalant on the matter,” Salvador said, noting that Arroyo’s record of human rights violations has even surpassed that of Marcos.

Aside from the case of political prisoners, Arroyo’s regime also saw 1,206 cases of extrajudicial killings (153 are women) and 205 enforced disappearances (61 are women).

“If going after political dissenters is truly not a policy of his administration as he pronounced earlier on, Aquino ought to show the people his sincerity by freeing our sisters and all political prisoners. We also demand for the immediate release of Mercy Castro from detention, so she could await the birth of her child in an environment befitting her condition,” Salvador concluded.


Joms Salvador
Deputy Secretary General
GABRIELA National Office

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