The Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) today joined the sympathy fasting of farmers led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in support of the hunger strike of political prisoners nationwide.
Farmers are demanding for the unconditional release of more than 400 political prisoners in the country especially those who are sick, elderly, and the women who have spent many years in jail on fabricated charges.
These include Felicidad Caparal, an organizer and national staff member of UMA who was sentenced to life in prison at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City.
Caparal was abducted by state security forces on January 27, 2009 while on her way to Northern Samar to attend to her sick mother. She was planning to bring her to Manila for medication. Caparal was held incommunicado and missing for nine days. She was convicted last year of absurd charges for involvement in a December 2002 ambuscade by the New People’s Army (NPA). Caparal could not have been involved in the said incident as she was eight months pregnant with her first child during that time.
Majority of political prisoners are ordinary farmers. The land problem and the monopoly of lands by powerful ruling elite in the Philippines impose political repression against activists and land reform advocates like Caparal. This fundamental problem also sparks the decades-long peasant war in the countryside.
UMA Secretary General Danilo “Ka Daning” Ramos stated that it is not enough that the Duterte government recently pardoned 4 political prisoners, and again promised to release dozens of others on humanitarian grounds.
“All political prisoners must be released,” said Ramos.
“The Martial Law legacy of militarization and peasant killings persist in the countryside. Until these issues are addressed, a just and lasting peace would still be elusive,” he added.
Duterte promised the release of all political prisoners as part of measures pertaining to the peace talks between the National Democratic Front (NDF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), but the majority of political prisoners are still languishing in jails nationwide.
The fasting and hunger strike of the political prisoners will peak on December 10, Human Rights Day.