“Mabait po sila at tumutulong sa mga magsasaka pero si Mama ay pinatay at si Papa ay kinulong. Sana bigyan ng hustisya si Mama at palayain si Papa.” – Statement of Diwin Bangibang, son of Kennedy Bangibang, a political prisoner in Kalinga.
The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) supports the recent pronouncement of incoming President to release all political prisoners in the country. The release of political prisoners will be a confidence building measure by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) to improve the atmosphere of the Peace Talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
In the Cordillera region, there are at least seven political prisoners languishing in jails for crimes they did not commit. Three are currently detained in Kaling, two in Ifugao and another two in Mt. Province. Most of the political prisoners are currently detained for more than two years in jails facing trumped up criminal charges ranging from multiple murder, illegal possession of firearms, explosives and ammunitions, and more.
One of the prominent political prisoner in the region is Kennedy Bangibang. He was arrested on February 2013 and is currently detained at the Kalinga Provincial Jail in Tabuk City facing multiple cases. Bangibang is a regional consultant for the NDFP on indigenous peoples concerns. His arrest is a major blow in the conduct of grassroots consultations and dialogues on indigenous peoples concerns in the region to be included to the proposed Comprehensive Agreement on Socio Economic Reforms (CASER) by the NDFP.
In Ifugao, Rene Boy Abiva, an employee of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and an organizer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in Cagayan and Virgilio Corpuz, a development worker and at the same time an organizer of Piston in Cagayan Valley are suffering at the provincial jail. Both are maliciously charged in relation to an ambushed allegedly staged by the New People’s Army in Tinoc, Ifugao. Abiva was arrested in December 2012 while Corpuz was arrested on January 2013.
The suffering and injustices committed against the political prisoners, their families and communities deserve condemnation. It is utterly wrong for a government to criminalized political dissent. It is injustice to file fabricated charges against innocent individuals especially from the government. The government is guilty of breaking families and causing immense misery to the victims and their loved ones.
We support and reiterate the call of Diwin, a young and bright school boy and son of NDFP Cordillera Consultant Bangibang, for the immediate release of his Papa and all the political prisoners in the region.
CPA firmly believes that no one should be imprisoned because of their political beliefs. The call for the release of all political prisoners in the region and in the country by the incoming President Duterte should be supported. This is just and morally to do.***