“My daughter is only one among hundreds victimized by state repression. They are languishing in jail without fair trial, and are charged with common and sometimes petty crimes.” – Concepcion Montajes
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
Militant youth organizations launched its own campaign for the release of political prisoners with particular focus on those who belong to the sector of youth and students. They have sounded the alarm over the one year detention of 21-year old Maricon Montajes, Ronilo Baes, 19; and Romiel Cañete, 22 years old.
The Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP), Anakkbayan, the League of Filipino Students (LFS), KARATULA, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), and the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP) demand the dismissal of all charges against all political prisoners, saying they were not guilty of anything but of practicing their political beliefs.
In the pre-dawn hours of June 3, 2010, the 743rd Combat Squadron of the Philippine Air Force conducted a raid in Taysan, Batangas. The three youth were immediately arrested and charged with frustrated murder and homicide, illegal possession of firearms and violation of gun ban. Since then, they have been detained at the Batangas Provincial Jail.
Prior to her arrest, Montajes was a film major at the student of the University of the Philippines (UP) Baes hails from Batangas while Cañete is from Diliman, Quezon City.
Earlier in May this year, former UP Faculty Regent Prof. Judy Taguiwalo and Act Teacher’s Party List Rep. Antonio Tinio accompanied three members of the Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (OCHRP) to visit political detainees Maricon Montajes, Ronilo Baes, Romiel Cañete and the Talisay 3 in the Batangas Provincial Jail in Batangas City. (Photo courtesy of Task Force Freedom for Maricon / bulatlat.com)
With the full support of various human rights groups and student organizations, Montajes’ mother, Maria Concepcion or “Ching” has established Task Force Maricon to press for the release of her daughter and her companions. In a short speech she delivered to the 28th Buklod Atenista Leadership Summit last May at the Ateneo de Davao University, Mrs. Montajes said that she was determined to bring her daughter’s case to the attention of the respective peace panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and seek their intervention for Maricon’s immediate release.
Free Maricon Montajes
According to Mrs. Montajes, her daughter was only in Batangas because she was doing research in Southern Tagalog rural communities in her effort to learn more about Philippine society. She had, by then, taken on the role of an outreach worker and she reportedly wanted to introduce creative communication strategies in rural development work.
“There are many ways in which government troops can repress dissenting ideas of those who are only seeking to learn about the realities in our society. My daughter is only one among hundreds victimized by state repression . They are languishing in jail without fair trial, and are charged with common and sometimes petty crimes,” she said.
“Maricon as a UP student was only following the path of every student who wants to pursue an education that is humanistic, spiritual, nationalistic and oriented towards the common good; one that is unified in theory and practice.”
Mrs. Montajes’ ordeal to find her daughter immediately after she heard about the arrest was described by a former schoolmate and SunStar columnist Gingging Avellanosa-Valle as “fueled by a mothers’ passionate love for her child.” It was Maricon’s school mates from UP who broke the news.
“Ching immediately went to Batangas the following day to look for her daughter, and true enough, she found her at the PAF camp For a mother who is only looking after the welfare of her child, finding Maricon was not an easy thing to do because of the challenges. She said she was made to approach different government offices first before she finally saw Maricon, who, she described as looking haggard; her clothes were all soiled,” she said.
According to another support group Task Force Free Maricon Montajes and the Talisay 3, Maricon’s rights to academic freedom were also violated when she was arrested. The group said that Maricon wanted to learn from outside the confines of her school and sought to discover and learn from real-life situations in regional communities. They also said that Maricon and her companions’ continued detention are violations against their human rights.
“None of the charges against them have been proven because none of them are true,” said the support group.
The Talisay 3 are Charity Dino, a school teacher, Billy Betrina and Sonny Rogelio, who have been in prison since November 2009. They are all organizers of SAMBA or Samahan ng mga Magsasaka sa Batangas (Association of Farmers in Batangas) and were arrested in Talisay, Batangas. They have been unjustly charged with illegal possession of firearms.