Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rep. Beltran on the third day of second round of fasting; calls for sympathy and support for Tagaytay 5 who are on hunger strike

Tuesday April 3, 2007

Rep. Beltran on the third day of second round of fasting; calls for sympathy and support for Tagaytay 5 who are on hunger strike

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran is now on his third day of fasting, but it was not for his own health or welfare that he sounded the alarm but for fellow political detainees collectively known as the Tagaytay 5. Beltran began his first round of fasting late March in protest of his continuing detention, the arrest of Bayan Muna Satur Ocampo, and the continuing attacks against members of progressive party-lists and people's organizations. This second round is in solidarity with and in support of the Tagaytay 5.

The Tagaytay 5 or Riel Custodio, Axel Pinpin, Aristides Sarmiento, Enrico Ybanez and Michael Masayes embarked on a hunger strike which began on March 6, 2007. As of April 2 reports, the political detainees' health have visibly worsened and they are all severely weakened. All have are victim of abduction, arbitrary detention, incriminatory machinations, torture, inhumane treatment at the hands of the Philippine National Police (PNP). As a consequence of the hunger strike, Pinpin and Custodio have now become bed-ridden and unable to get up.

The five men where traveling along Ligaya Drive, Brgy. Sungay, Tagaytay City when they forcibly arrested by an estimated 30-40 elements of the PNP. For seven days they were kept blindofolded and hogtied; interrogated without the presence of legal counsel, physically abused and threatened with electrocution and summary execution. They have since then been charged as members of the New People's Army (NPA) when their credentials as members and staff of the Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite (or Kamagsasaka-Ka) and the Cavite Farmers Consultative Council (CFCC) right up to the time they were arrested.

"The Macapagal-Arroyo administration continues to flout civil and human rights and remains a staunch supporter of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP's escalating attacks against civilians and activists. As of Dec. 2006, the Arroyo government keeps 232 political prisoners, and refuses to heed the call of human rights groups that these civilians be immediately released. The case of the Tagaytay 5 is yet another glaring proof that this government will resort to the most inhumane and devious tactics to criminalize activists," he said.

Beltran, 74, is second-time political detainee. The first time was under the Marcos dictatorship when he was detained for two years after the August 13, 1982 Crackdown on the militant trade union movement. Now he is a detainee under the Arroyo regime, charged with inciting to sedition and rebellion. He has been detained for 14 months now since he was arrested February 25, 2006 on the anniversary of EDSA People Power 1. He was originally detained in Camp Crame but because of high blood pressure, diabetes and other related illnesses, he was transferred to the Philippine Heart Center where he is under 24-7 guard by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).

"If it had not been for the strong assertion of human rights and cause oriented groups on my behalf, I would have been forced to remain as a political detainee in Camp Crame. I have no illusions that I would have been treated with special care while under the direct custody of the PNP; ironically, it has been my unstable health that has kept me alive because I have to doubts either that my life would've been cut short had I been detained in Camp Crame."

"It is then with deep anger and outrage that I protest against the continuing detention of the Tagaytay 5 and the rest of the political prisoners all over the country. On a daily basis they are subjected to various forms of torture, ranging from physical, mental and emotional. Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must be made to take responsibility for the inhumane treatment the PNP subjects the political detainees to, particularly the Tagaytay 5."

Beltran said that the candidates of Macapagal-Arroyo's Team Unity should be defeated in the May elections because they will only perpetuate Macapagal-Arroyo's rule as a condoner of human rights violations and a protector of human rights violators and masterminds of extra-judicial killings. He said that he will continue to fast for the entire duration of the Holy Week in protest of the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines.#


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