430 political prisoners under PNoy, says group

Posted at 02/07/2013 9:53 AM | Updated as of 02/07/2013 10:13 AM

MANILA – A group of former political prisoners on Thursday appealed to President Aquino to order the release of elderly and sick political prisoners on humanitarian grounds.

SELDA secretary general Angie Ipong welcomed Malacañang’s decision to free poet-artist Ericson Acosta, saying no person should be held in detention because of his political beliefs. SELDA stands for Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto.

Ipong, a political prisoner herself, said sick and elderly political prisoners have double the reason to demand for freedom.

"Most of the time, sick political prisoners are not given the proper medical attention because of the lack of facilities in prison hospitals and lack of budget to provide health services to prisoners. To a certain extent, their being political prisoners is even used as flimsy excuse to be deprived of medical treatment," she said in a statement.

As for the elderly political prisoners, Ipong said there should be no question as to their release on humanitarian grounds.

Ipong was arrested at the age of 60 and released six years after murder charges against her were dismissed.

SELDA said there are currently 430 political prisoners in different jails nationwide, 148 of them were arrested and detained under the Aquino administration. The group documented some 45 political prisoners who are sick, while 12 of them are elderly prisoners, or those who are aged 60 and above.

"Cramped and poorly ventilated prison cells, poor water supply and inadequate food and nutrition worsen the state of health of political prisoners who suffer from various ailments. This, along with the fact they shouldn't be detained because of their political beliefs, are more than enough grounds for their immediate release," Ipong said.