DAVAO CITY, Philippines — An elderly political prisoner died Monday afternoon after his third cardiac arrest since Friday, Nov. 25.
Bernabe Ocasla, 66 died 5:30 pm at the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital according to Karapatan.
Ocasla was detained at the Manila City Jail [MCJ] when he was rushed to the hospital due to a heart attack on Friday.
Human rights group Karapatan said Ocasla, who was already partially blind, had been a political prisoner since 2007.
He was one of the listed ailing and elderly political prisoners submitted by Karapatan to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Ocasla was a farmer charged by the military of multiple counts of murder in relation to the mass graves allegedly discovered by the military in 2006. The other accused were Wilma and Benito Tiamzon, Satur Ocampo, Vicente Ladlad, Randall Echanis, Raffy Baylosis who were granted temporary liberty to participate in the ongoing peace talks.
He was the second political prisoner who died in detention this year. NDF consultant, Eduardo Serrano, died last January 8, 2016 due to cardiac arrest.
‘Time is running-out’
Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao said the government should expedite the release of all political prisoners especially the 130 ailing detainees.
“Time is running out, particularly for the old and ailing political prisoners who continue to languish in jail,” Casilao said.
“The press release of the GRP to release of the political detainees is good only in papers; as of press time not a single detainee has been released,” Casilao said, adding that those who were out in jail were due to the merit of their case and the legal remedies employed by their lawyers.
Roneo Clamor, Karapatan deputy secretary general said for months the GRP have been announcing the release of political prisoners, “but so far only 19 has been released in line with the peace talks.”
The GPH claimed that the release of the political prisoners was delayed due to technical issues.
Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad, member of the government panel said the release of the 434 prisoners has to follow the judicial process.
“We have to consider that we have a judicial process that we have to follow and it’s not easy dealing with and discussing this with the judiciary. We have to make sure that all these modes are acceptable to the judiciary,” Trinidad told reporters during the Women’s Peace Tables launching held at the Royal Mandaya Hotel here Monday.
Trinidad said one of the modes they are eyeing is the reconstitution and amendment of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon.
According to Karapatan’s documentation, as of October 31, 2016, there are 482 political prisoners in the Philippines, 33 are women, 130 are sickly, and 37 are elderly. It said at least 103 of the political prisoners have been detained for more than 10 years.
Librado-Trinidad said the government is still positive that the political prisoners will be released before the year ends.
“We are working on the release and we understand that the release of the prisoners is an urgency but there are things that we have to work out and we have to make sure that the releases would not be subject to any question, legally and judicially,” she said.
Casilao said the release of the political detainees is now in the hands of the government.
“The release of all political prisoners is not just about complying to the previous written agreement both by the NDFP and the GRP, it is also about untying the years of unjust deeds perpetrated by the state to the political prisoners by slapping them with trumped-up charges,” he said. (davaotoday.com)