CEBU (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 8, 2014) – A peace consultant of the leftist National Democratic Front of the Philippines, who was abducted, tortured and jailed by Philippine authorities, has been freed after a local court dismissed rebellion charges against him, the human rights group called Karapatan said.
Ramon Patriarca, who was abducted by soldiers and policemen on February 5, 2009 at the village of Casili in Cebu’s Mandaue City, was released from the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center. Patriarca’s case was dismissed by the Regional Trial Court-Danao City along with five other accused, who were earlier released on bail.
The NDFP is the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Karapatan said the release came after Patriarca’s legal counsel filed a demurrer to evidence. Judge Jerry Dicdican found the rebellion case against him without basis and ordered his release.
In jail, Patriarca launched hunger strikes, fasting and other protest actions to call public attention to his detention and to echo the demand to release all political prisoners. He had issued statements to the public on issues such as the pork barrel system, government neglect on the plight of the victims and survivors of typhoon Haiyan. Patriarca also made and sold handcrafted greeting cards, proceeds of which were donated to the typhoon victims.
Patriarca thanked all those who supported him and the campaign to release all political prisoners in the Philippines and abroad.
“I am happy that henceforth, I can better contribute to the struggle for the release of political prisoners, and for human rights and just peace, not limited anymore by prison bars and barbed wires,” Patriarca said in a statement sent to Karapatan.
“State repression is incapable of silencing, not even in prison, yearnings for freedom and justice. My abduction, brief disappearance and torture five years ago, now the subject of a civil case I filed against a number of military and police officials, showed that human rights violations is indeed a twin of the existing exploitative social system,” Patriarca said.
Karapatan said Patriarca filed a civil case for torture and P 1.4 million in damages against 20 officers and members of the Philippine National Police and Central Command, among them then Cebu Provincial police director Chief Supt. Carmelo Valmoria and Maj. Gen. Armando Cunanan, former commander of the Central Command. The case is pending at the Regional Trial Court Branch 12.
To date, there are 427 political prisoners still languishing in jail, all falsely charged with criminal cases. Of the 427 political prisoners, 12 are NDFP peace consultants covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees signed by both the Philippines and the NDFP in 1995.
In 2011, lawyer Alex Padilla, chief government peace panel negotiating with the communist group, unilaterally declared the JASIG inoperative, which according to the NDFP violated the accord.