A campaign committee calls for the release of peace consultant Adelberto Silva, Sharon Cabusao and Isidro de Lima, and for the resumption of talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
By BRUCE KYLE MALLO
“Silva-De Lima-Cabusao, pa-la-yain!”
The Sikat Hall of the Popular Bookstore along Timog Avenue in Quezon City was filled with voices of friends and families of political prisoners’ Adelberto Silva, Sharon Cabusao and Isidro de Lima, calling for their release.
Silva, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), his wife Cabusao, and their companion De Lima were arrested on June 1 in Molino, Cavite and charged with illegal possession of explosives. They are currently detained in Camp Crame in Quezon City.
The kin of the detainees were joined by leaders from Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Kilusang Mayo Uno and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan to form the “Free Adel Silva Committee” on July 1.
The committee also dared the Aquino administration to resume formal peace talks with the NDFP. Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma recently said the government is open to the resumption of the talks.
Former Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo said Silva’s arrest showed the Aquino administration’s violation of civil and political rights, including the right to due process. Instead of filing the appropriate charges, such as rebellion and sedition, Ocampo said, the government is criminalizing political offenses.
“What’s happening is that they’re filing unreasonable charges, like grave common criminal offenses that they can’t even explain, in the forms of murder, kidnapping, illegal possession of firearms… which are not bailable,” Ocampo said.
He said that the government also violated the Comprehensive Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl), an agreement that upholds the Hernandez doctrine, which says that those suspected of political offenses should not be charged or convicted of common crimes.
“The government should charge the victims rightfully, with due process, and file cases that are political in nature …because they have no evidence of this people doing the common criminal crimes they’ve charged them with,” Ocampo elaborated.
Elize Fuertez, Cabusao’s daughter, recalled that her mother became an activist during martial law. It seemed like they’re in the same era, as Mia, De Lima’s daughter, described their arrest.
“At around dawn, while my parents were asleep, uniformed men kicked the door of the house and with no arrest warrant, they took my father, also without even consulting the captain of the village,” said Mia.
Former Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Liza Maza said that the arrest is de javu of the Marcos era, when people who are critical to the government were neutralized through arrests.
Maza said the government should instead listen to the policy proposals from labor unions and different sectors to resolve the root causes of armed struggle and the different protests in the country.
Kilusang Mayo Uno National Chairperson Elmer Labog said the three detainees were getting “inhumane treatment” in detention.
Labog said that Silva and Cabusao are detained in a six-feet-by-four-feet room, which is adverse to their delicate health condition. Silva had already gone a triple bypass operation, and Cabusao is in dire need of sunlight and fresh air to address her B12 deficiency.
Labog challenged the government to stop its “double standard” as they claim to be champions of peace, while they detain and illegally arrest people with critical roles in the peace process.