Political prisoners rapped the “sinister and inhumane scheme” now being rolled out through court motions to move them out of Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City to “harsher and less secure conditions” in local jails mostly outside Metro Manila.
In a statement presented at a press conference in Congress led by the Makabayan bloc, they scored the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), co-chaired by President Duterte and National Security Adviser former Gen. Hermogenes Esperon and which masterminded the scheme, for “blatantly interfering in the judicial process, fabricating lies and conjuring false scenarios.”
In less than a month, four court motions have already ensued from requests by the BJMP National Directorate for the transfer of eight political prisoners at Bicutan. They include NDF consultants and alleged Negros rebel leaders Frank Fernandez and Cleofe Lagtapon; COURAGE member Oliver Rosales; NDF consultant Adelberto Silva and companions Edisel Legaspi, Ireneo Atadero, and Julio Lusania; and Quezon farmer Maximo Reduta.
The political prisoners said the move to forcibly transfer all of them runs counter to “the fact that historically, including during the Marcos dictatorship, political prisoners have always been detained in common facilities for practical reasons, including easier monitoring and control by state authorities,” referring to the long-established practice of segregating political prisoners from common criminals even during martial law.
The political prisoners slammed the recommendation of DND Secretary and NTF-ELCAC lead, Delfin Lorenzana, which provided the basis for the BJMP request by invoking Executive Order No. 70 and the “whole-of-government” approach “to prevent opportunities for Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) to conduct organized activities while under detention and (for) the timely resolution of criminal cases against CPP-NPA personalities pending before the regular courts.”
The political prisoners said court records in fact show that most of the political prisoners detained in Bicutan were transferred there from local jails upon the motion of local jail wardens who were worried about security risks in keeping them.
They added that since their movements are naturally limited in prison, whatever “organized activities” they could conduct “cannot be anything but legitimate and justified.” These include political discussions among their co-prisoners and with visitors, social gatherings and celebrations, handicrafts and other livelihood projects, sports, and health and wellness activities.
“The real and more obvious rationale and objective of the transfers are to throw the political prisoners detained in Bicutan back to the horribly congested local jails to further restrict our movement and access to much needed medical attention, legal services, visits and support from relatives and friends,” they noted.
They said the political prisoners in Bicutan are the “latest scapegoat now being targeted for further persecution” because of the failure of the NTF-ELCAC to take off on its strategy of local peace talks.