By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA –On January 5, jail authorities at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center at Camp Crame attempted to transfer Alan Jazmines, a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
According to the letter of PNP Chief Nicanor Bartolome recommending the transfer of Jazmines to DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, the authorities at Camp Crame are not pleased with the fact that “several rallies were staged by leftist groups in front of Camp Crame gates demanding for his release.” They also cited Jazmines’s ”perceived unfavorable behavior inside jail.”
With the intervention of Jazmines’s lawyer and officials from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the transfer did not push through. This is the third time prison authorities have tried to have Jazmines transferred to another detention center since his arrest in February 2011, a few hours before the start of the formal round of peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP. He was slapped with rebellion and murder charges.
In a statement released from prison, Jazmines said the justification for the transfer that prison authorities are talking about, such as rallies at Camp Crame demanding for his release and his “unfavorable jail behavior” are all pure hogwash. He said the moves were “in reprisal for struggles against human rights violations, undue restrictions and poor prison conditions.”
Jazmines said the move to have him transferred was in reaction to his expose’s of abuses and atrocities committed against detainees. The second was in reaction to his complaint against the blocking of “Free all Political Prisoners” postcards by prison authorities and their insistence that even confidential NDFP peace talks documents and communications should be censored before allowing it to reach NDFP consultants detained at the Camp Crame Custodial Center.
Jazmines is a member of the NDFP’s reciprocal working committee for socio-economic reforms. He continues his work even while in jail. Besides Jazmines, two more NDFP consultants – Eduardo Serrano and Eduardo Sarmiento—are detained at the PNP Custodial Center.
Jazmines said he also complained over the custodial center chief’s attempt to prevent more than 30-well wishers from visiting NDFP consultants detained at Camp Crame on Dec. 26, under the guise of a “heightened camp alert,” and the prohibition against bringing in reading materials brought by visitors such as the National Council of Churches in the Philippines’ “Churches Response as Human Rights Defenders”, Karapatan’s primer on Oplan Bayanihan, and Pinoy Weekly newspapers.
Jazmines, however, deemed that a more weighty and the more principal reason prison authorities are doing all they can to have him transferred has been the substantial documentation that he has been working on regarding cases of unjust, arbitrary and illegal detention of practically all 15 or so political prisoners at Camp Crame custodial center, and relatedly, his move to call for a joint investigation of those cases.
“The documentation of those cases prepared for the proposed joint investigation is so damning that prison authorities have become very worried of serious repercussions and sanctions against them for their share of the criminal and administrative responsibilities in connection with those cases of unjust, arbitrary and illegal detention. Transferring me to another detention center is the Camp Crame custodial center’s ploy to prevent the joint investigation from pushing through and exposing the prison authorities’ part and responsibility in those cases of unjust, arbitrary and illegal detention,” Jazmines said.
The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) condemned the attempted transfer. “This shows how repressive and violative of the rights of political prisoners and regular detainees the jail authorities are when, in fact, Jazmines is simply exercising his right and compassion in asserting the rights of inmates against arbitrary and illegal detention and repressive jail policies,” Selda said in a statement.
Selda, whose members regularly visit Jazmines, said the latter also led political prisoners and regular inmates in upholding the welfare and humane treatment of all inmates in the said facility, such as the expose’ of incidents of sexual harassment of the female inmates by the jail guards. Jazmines has also assisted other inmates in their legal cases, especially those whose cases have taken a long time in court, and has sought the support of lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers and the Public Attorney’s Office.
Selda reiterated the call for the immediate release of Jazmines and all political prisoners.
“We decry the continuing persecution and detention of the thirteen peace consultants and staff who, per the agreement of both panels, should be immediately released. We call on the Aquino administration to stop the practice of filing trumped up criminal charges against activists and human rights defenders to hide the political nature of the charges against them,” the group said.