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Home Philippine News <strong>Karapatan: End criminalization of dissent, free all political prisoners!</strong>

Karapatan: End criminalization of dissent, free all political prisoners!

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<strong>Karapatan: End criminalization of dissent, free all political prisoners!</strong>
Rey Casambre (right), a peace consultant for the NDPF, is still being held in custody as a result of the state's fabrication of charges against him. (PHOTO from Bulatlat)

NEWS RELEASE

December 3, 2022

References:

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General +639173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, +639189790580

Human rights alliance Karapatan reiterated calls for an end to the criminalization of dissent and the release of all political prisoners in the country, as it marked the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners on December 3, 2022. 

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that there are hundreds of political prisoners in various detention facilities nationwide because the State adheres to a policy of demonizing political dissenters mainly through red-tagging and formally criminalizing political dissent by slapping activists and other political opponents with trumped-up criminal charges.

As of November 30, Karapatan has documented a total of 828 political prisoners in the country, most of them charged with heinous and/or non-bailable cases such as murder, destructive arson, kidnapping with illegal detention and illegal possession of firearms and explosives. At least 96 of them have various illnesses, including life-threatening diseases, while 77 are elderly. There are also 15 consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines who are currently detained. 

Palabay particularly slammed the “legal cluster” under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as the brains behind the trumped-up criminal cases being filed against activists and other political dissenters. “This ‘legal cluster’ is the successor of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) under the Arroyo regime and the Duterte-era Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) which were notorious for fabricating charges against government critics, leading to their unjust arrest and detention,” said Palabay.

Former UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Prof. Philip Alston strongly recommended the abolition of the IALAG in his 2008 report to the UN Human Rights Council. 

More than a thousand activists have reportedly been issued arrest warrants on manufactured charges since the IALAG and IACLA days. From the 540 political prisoners at the end of November 2018, two hundred eighty-eight (288) more activists have been arrested largely on trumped-up charges since the NTF-ELCAC and its legal cluster were formed in December of that year.

“We demand that the State put a stop to its policy of intolerance to political dissent and renew our call for the release of all political prisoners unjustly arrested and detained,” concluded Palabay