Farmers join sympathy fasting and hunger strike to demand general amnesty for...

Farmers join sympathy fasting and hunger strike to demand general amnesty for political prisoners

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More than 600 inmates and political prisoners are joining the nationwide hunger strike to demand the Duterte regime to issue a presidential proclamation ordering general amnesty for all political prisoners.

The hunger strike that commenced yesterday is joined by political prisoners and inmates in respective jails and penal centers: BJMP SICA 1 Camp Bagong Diwa (24), Female Dorm Taguig City Jail (10); Compostella Valley Provincial Rehabilitation Center (500 inmates and 38 political prisoners); Davao Penal Colony (10); Davao Oriental (6); Kidapawan (4); Digos City (3) Far South Mindanao (8) and Western Samar (16).

“We do not want another Bernabe Ocasla who died waiting in vain for his freedom that was promised by the Duterte government,” Antonio Flores, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said, referring to Ocasla, the first political prisoner to die under Duterte’s watch.

Majority of the 400 political prisoners in the country are farmers and land reform advocates who were unjustly accused of fabricated criminal charges. Many of them were implicated in cases of rebellion, qualified, murder, robbery with homicide, attempted murder, frustrated murder, illegal possession of firearms and explosives and other non-bailable charges. “All of the political prisoners were arrested as civilians and not combatants and yet, the government tags them as members of the New People’s Army because of their past political activities as peasant leaders and organizers,” Flores said.

KMP and farmers from Eastern Visayas will lead the solidarity fasting at Mendiola tomorrow to demand the release of peasant political prisoners, including Dario Tomada and Oscar Belleza who are detained at the Manila City Jail after they were falsely implicated in the Hilongos, Leyte mass grave case.

Tomada, 56, is a former leader of peasant group SAGUPA-Sinirangan Bisayas. He was arrested on July 22, 2010 in Binan, Laguna.

Belleza, 59, was the former vice chairperson of KMP-Leyte. He was arrested on November 26, 2008 in Olongapo City. Belleza suffered a stroke while in detention and underwent brain surgery. He is now paralyzed and in poor health condition.

Female political prisoner Beatriz Gabuay who is still detained at the Samar Provincial Jail was arrested on September 23, 2008. She is 56 years old and suffers from hypertension.

Other peasant leaders and farmers who are still in detention include Alex Arias, chairperson of KMP-affiliate PUMALAG;  farmers Jojo Doroja, Lito Matricio, Albert Custodio, Orlando Duruin, Mendio Bisiotan, Marlon Bagaray, Linor Danao, Francisco Esponilla, Romar Busania, Fidel Lusica, Michael Gatchialian, Eric Seballo, Jerry Banao, Gregorio Lusica, Solomon Curitao, Jexson Cullamat, Antonio Ocba, Armando Toreta, Jupiter Pacquiao, Estiqueo Bulat-ag and many others. ###