By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – “Free our sisters, free all political prisoners!”
Different women’s groups reiterated this call on Thursday, March 15, as they appealed to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release women political prisoners who are languishing in jail for trumped-up charges.
This also marked the 25th year of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the national women’s month.
Data from human rights group Karapatan revealed that 162 out of the 819 political prisoners are women.
Cora Agovida, Gabriela deputy secretary general, said that the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should live up to its pronouncements of ensuring the protection of human rights in the country by releasing women political prisoners.
“We know that Marcos Jr. and its officers are liars. However, as representatives of the state, they are still mandated to ensure the rights and freedoms of the people. Thus, we challenge the Marcos-Duterte government to release all political prisoners—especially women, the elderly, and/or the sick,” Agovida said in a statement.
Agovida is a former political detainee at the time when she was chairperson of GABRIELA-National Capital Region.
Among the women political prisoners they are hoping to be released are: Adora Fayede Vera, 66, Presentacion Saluta, 63,Cleofe Lagtapon, 65, Ma. Fe Serrano, 66, Evangeline Rapanut, 72, Ge-Ann Perez, 24, Renalyn Tejero, 27, Glendyl Malabanan, Frenchie Mae Cumpio, 24, Rowena Rosales, 51, Grace Verzosa, 35, Arlene Panea, 34, Virginia Villamor and Alexandrea Pacalda, 28.
“These women and all who came before them have had to claw their way out of the quagmire of limitations imposed on women—especially poor women—in a feudal-patriarchal society, and asserted their rightful place in the struggle for rights and justice. Only for the state to shove them back into a box, literally and figuratively,” Agovida said.
Tanggol Bayi meanwhile denounced the conviction of Pacalda last March 13.
“We support Pacalda’s intent to appeal the decision of the Lucena City Regional Trial Court Branch 56,” the group said in a statement.
Pacalda was a peasant organizer when she was arrested on Sept. 14, 2019 in General Luna, Quezon. She also worked with Karapatan and was also a former campus journalist where she served as business manager of the Luzonian and secretary general of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Southern Luzon chapter.
She was falsely charged by the 85th Infantry Battalion and 201st Infantry Brigade with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, and of explosives.
Peasant women’s group Amihan urged the public to join its call to defend peasant women and free all peasant women political prisoners “amid resistance to the worsening conditions of the peasantry under the Marcos government.”
Moreover, the group called for the resumption of peace negotiations to genuinely address the roots of the armed conflict. (RTS, RVO)