VARIOUS progressive groups raised concern over the almost 800 political prisoners during the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Sunday morning, December 10, 2023.
Southern Mindanao chapters of Karapatan, Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) staged a protest at the Freedom Park on Roxas Avenue, Davao City to raise their concern over the more than 700 political prisoners in the country.
“As of November 30, 2023, there are 795 political prisoners nationwide; 84 were arrested under the Marcos Jr.-Duterte administration. Of the total number of political prisoners, there are those who are especially vulnerable – 78 are elderly, 98 are in poor health and need medical treatment, and 159 are women. There are also 17 National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultants and staff being incarcerated despite their supposed safety and immunity guarantees provided for in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig),” Karapatan-SMR wrote in their statement.
Of the 795 political prisoners, 55 are in Southern Mindanao, of whom five are women and 13 are confined in the Davao prison and Penal Farm in Panabo City, Davao del Sur.
The groups lit candles along Roxas Avenue for activists, community defenders, and human rights defenders who perished.
Along with these concerns, the groups also wish to bring up the Anti-Terrorism Act, the fate of political prisoners, and the likelihood of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace talks continuing.
“Karapatan-SMR enjoins all fellow advocates and peace-loving citizens to make a stand and join the call to stop political repression, free all political prisoners, and hold the United States Marcos-Duterte regime accountable,” the statement added.
Every year on December 10, Human Rights Day is celebrated. On this day in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was ratified by the UN General Assembly. Declaring the inalienable rights to which every human being is entitled, the UDHR is a seminal document that applies to all people, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, language, political viewpoint, national or social origin, property, birth, or any other position. It is the world's most translated document, available in over 500 languages. RGP