Political inmates on ‘hunger strike’ anew

Six political prisoners in Bohol are again on hunger strike starting Friday to press the government for the release of all political prisoners and scrap the anti-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya.

In a statement issued to media, five leaders of peasant organizations and one prisoner jailed on charges of rebellion said they have written to President Benigno Aquino III, arguing that the past administration’s political prisoners are “victims of gross human rights violations and political persecution, and corruption.”

The six prisoners cited the case of the so-called Morong 43, volunteer health workers “falsely charged with rebellion and illegal possession of firearms as part of the legal offensives of the Arroyo administration.”

The prisoners also asked President Aquino to resume peace talks with the National Democratic Front and scrap the government’s Oplan Bantay Laya.

According to them, the anti-insurgency program “served as a blueprint for the victimization of more than 1,000 victims of extra-judicial killings, more than 200 victims of enforced disappearances, and more than 300 political prisoners whose human rights were violated.”

“SOLIDARITY FASTING”

It may be recalled the six political prisoners at the Bohol District Jail went on a 2-day solidarity fasting two weeks ago but renewed their demands for the government regarding their release on Friday, September 17.

“Kaming mga detenidong politikal dinhi sa Bohol, sa makausa pa, nakighiusa sa tanang detenidong politikal sa tibuok nasud,” the statement said.

The detainees said they want to remind the government and the public that the 6 of them have been imprisoned for their political beliefs.

Five of the prisoners, who have been known as “Buenavista 5”, are leaders and active members of the activist peasant group Humabol, which according to them is a legitimate organization of farmers.

They said they were arrested based on trumped up charges. The six detainees on hunger strike are Florentino Lorencio Quino, Ruben Busalanan, Antonio Sanchez, Rodrigo Mejias, Edwin Lofranco and Elpidio Tagsep.

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