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Philippines: Trade unions call for release of vulnerable prisoners

By staff

Trade unionists in the Philippines press for release of political prisoners.

The militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) went to the Supreme Court grounds on Wednesday, September 2, to amplify the call for the release of minor, sick, elderly and other vulnerable detainees.

“We urge the Supreme Court to decisively act on the urgent petition of kin of sick, elderly and other vulnerable detainees. The petition was filed on April 8, and no action has been taken by the Supreme Court since. We ask the Supreme Court this on humanitarian grounds in this time of pandemic,” said Eleanor de Guzman, KMU secretary for human rights.

KMU cited the fragile state of prisons as basis for the release, as the categorized prisoners are vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.

“Even if there were already several reports of COVID-19 infection among inmates in various detention facilities nationwide, no concrete action has been taken by government to secure the health and safety of vulnerable prisoners,” De Guzman said.

The petition filed last April 8 seeks the temporary release of 22 vulnerable prisoners. The Supreme Court decision on it will have an effect not just on them but other sick and elderly prisoners as well.

KMU and Free Our Unionists campaign network called for the release of long-time unionists Ireneo Atadero, who is suffering from hypertension; Adelberto Silva who is a double-bypass patient; Rowena Rosales, who is suffering from hypertension and diverticulitis and Oliver Rosales, who suffered from a heart attack.

They also called for the release of unionists Maoj Maga, Renante Gamara, and Noli Rosales who were wrongfully detained on fabricated charges.

They also echoed the plea for the release of Reina Mae Nasino, one of the petitioners, who just gave birth to a baby on July 1 but cannot nurse the newborn because they were separated following the Court’s denial of remedies sought by Ina’s family.

UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet earlier issued a statement which called on “governments to act quickly on reducing the number of people in detention, by releasing the most vulnerable, the elderly and sickly, pregnant, low-level offenders, as well as those with disabilities and juvenile detainees.”

KMU called on freedom-loving people, human rights advocates and the international community to act together and demand the release of vulnerable prisoners in the Philippines and other countries.

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