Elderly farmer activist, dies in prison

May. 05, 2020

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A 61-year old peasant activist has died in detention on Monday, renewing calls from human rights groups for the release of the elderly and sickly political detainees amid the pandemic.

Adelaida Macusang, also called “Nanay Ede”, was an organizer for the Montevista Farmer Association (MonteFarMa) in Davao de Oro, died at the age of 61.

The human rights group Karapatan Southern Mindanao said Macusang, who was detained since 2018 at Tagum City Provincial Rehabilitation Center, was rushed to a hospital Monday morning, after experiencing stomach pain and nausea, but died upon arrival.

Doctors confirmed that Macusang died from cardiac arrest and kidney failure.

Karapatan said Macusang had been diagnosed with hypertension and enlargement of the heart, even prior to her arrest on March 24, 2018.

Macusang was arrested by military elements in here residence in Barangay Camansi, Montevista, and was charged with illegal possession of explosives.

“The thought of incarcerating her despite her innocence resulted in serious psychological and physical consequences. Moreover, the poor condition of prison walls has seriously contributed to Nanay Edes health deterioration and eventually her death,” Karapatan-SMR secretary general Jay Apiag said.

Apiag said Karapatan and other human rights advocates have been demanding the government to release political prisoners, especially the sickly and elderly, on humanitarian grounds because of congested jails.

The group said there are 609 political detainees, including 47 elderly and 63 suffering from illnesses, prior to Macusang’s deaths.

Karapatan also said most of these political prisoners, such as Macusang, are jailed on trumped-up charges. Apiag added that there was a pattern of arrests of farmer activists in Davao de Oro under the Duterte administration.

“This, in fact, reiterated many times, most especially while we battle the current health crisis, the covid19 pandemic, yet the government was so insensitive and numb despite the glaring vulnerabilities inside a congested jail facility and the threat to contract the virus,” Apiag said. (davaotoday.com)

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