Free Maricon Montajes and All Political Prisoners
by Prof. Judy M. Taguiwalo, PhD
With Act Teacher’s Party List Rep. Antonio Tinio, I accompanied three members of the Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (OCHRP) in visiting the six political prisoners detained at the Batangas Provincial Jail in Batangas City.
I met Maricon Montajes, 21 years old, UP Mass Communications student taking up film who was arrested last June 3, 2010 together with two other young people: Ronilo Baes, 19 year old, from Batangas and Romiel Cañete, 22 years old, from Diliman Quezon City. They have been in prison for almost one year.
Three other political prisoners called the Talisay 3 : Charity Dino, a school teacher, Billy Betrina and Sonny Rogelio have been in prison since November 2009.
The visit was facilitated by the office of Batangas Governor Vilma Santos-Recto who responded to the letter of the Canadian organization, OCHRP, requesting permission to visit the political prisoners.
We met with the six political prisoners in the conference room of the Jail Warden where the six recounted the circumstances of their arrest, the torture they suffered during interrogation and the very slow movement of their cases.
Some of the families of the political prisoners were with us during the visit. Others have families living far from Batangas (including Maricon’s family who are in Davao) and thus have difficulties (distance and financial) in visiting their children regularly.
The political detainees had prepared a program for us with songs that included “Anak ng Bayan ” and the reading of poems written by them.
Anak ng Bayan with such lyrics as “mag-aalay ng panahon at buhay, alang sa kalayaan” . sa aking pag-alis kayo’y di mawawalay, libong anak sa inyo’y laging magdaraan, katulad ko rin, mabubuting anak ng bayan..” which evoked tears from the visitors as well as brought home the message of the reality that the six and all political prisoners are in prison for serving the people.
Life in prison, especially in a jail like the Batangas Provincial Jail, with a capacity of around 150-200 but which has now over 500 iinmates, is difficult and dangerous. Yesterday’s fire at the Bilibid Prison which killed two inmates is proof of the innate dangers of an overcrowded prison. The only wish of the six is for them to be freed soon so that they can contribute to building a just, humane and democratic society. They gave us thank you gifts of illustrated poems.
Let us join the movement demanding the release of Maricon Montajes, Ronilo Baes, Romiel Cañete, Charity Dino, Billy Betrina and Sonny Rogelio !
Free all political prisoners!
Postscript: The warden of the provincial jail has a sense of history and on one wall of the receiving area of his office are pictures of the Batangas jail during the American colonial period. One picture showed women prisoners; another of male prisoners. The warden said they were jailed because they were part of or supported the Philippine resistance to the American invasion of the country–political prisoners of another century, “mabubuting anak ng bayan tulad nina Maricon!
To know more about Maricon and the Taisan 3, please go to https://upissues.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/free-maricon-taysan-3/
To know more about Charity and the Talisay 3, please go to http://www.causes.com/causes/440729-support-the-talisay-3-a-case-of-arbitrary-arrest-and-torture-by-the-philippine-military
Article and Photos originally published here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1827333360992.2096168.1170042080