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Cruel death by incarceration

01:47 AM January 15, 2016

The Aquino administration has again flaunted its viciousness by letting aging and ailing political prisoners die by inhuman incarceration instead of releasing them for humanitarian considerations.

This cruel, elitist hacendero administration has claimed yet another political prisoner’s life. Eduardo “Ka Eddik” Serrano languished in jail for 11 years on false charges. A peace consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF), Ka Eddik was cleared recently by a Quezon City court of any involvement in an ambush of AFP troops. The court decision, though much welcomed, came too late. He succumbed to a heart attack on Jan. 8, 2016.

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Ka Eddik was not the first victim of this government’s barbaric treatment of detained dissenters. In 2013, Alison “Baal” Alcantara, of Talisay, Cebu, died of pneumonia, sepsis and fatal arrhythmia at the national penitentiary.

Like Ka Eddik, Baal’s death was the result of unjust imprisonment in a cramped and unventilated detention cell that worsened his health condition. Months before, his family, fellow inmates and human rights organizations called on President Aquino to have him transferred immediately to a proper medical facility, but for naught.

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Baal was first detained in 1999 at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center while he was being tried, purportedly, for murder. He was released in 2004 as part of goodwill gestures in the government-NDF peace talks. However, he was rearrested on Nov. 5, 2010, and transferred to the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on March 10, 2013. Six months later, he fell into a coma and died.

A year later, another political prisoner suffered the same fate. Benny Barid had been confined for three years at the NBP hospital for chronic asthmatic bronchitis with emphysema. Yet, he was continuously denied freedom until his death on Sept. 18, 2014.

Such is the continuing assault by the Aquino administration against political prisoners, as opposed to its pampered treatment of plunderers in their holding cells outside regular prisons.

There are 82 sickly political prisoners languishing in squalid detention centers across the country. They are part of the 555 suspected “enemies of the state” whose imprisonment is a testament to the constricted “democratic space” we are in. They are a fraction of the number of victims from 911 incidents of illegal arrests and detention reported in the time of President Aquino’s daang matuwid.

We salute these political prisoners for their unflinching dedication to the cause of people’s liberation in the face of the daily torture of bestial imprisonment. We give our highest respects to those who, like Ka Eddik, Baal and Benny, dedicated their lives to a thorough transformation of our society even amid seeming hopelessness. We hoist them as a guiding beacon whose light is bursting free from the dark dungeons of oppression.

Their sacrifices will not be in vain as thousands more carry on with their cause and cry out: “Free all political prisoners! Justice for Ka Eddik! Justice for victims of state terrorism!”

—DENNIS ABARIENTOS, coordinator, Karapatan-Cebu, Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, 5 Osmeña Boulevard, Cebu City

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TAGS: Alison Alcantara, Aquino administration, Baal, Eduardo Serrano, Ka Eddik, Political prisoners
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