“We hope and pray that the BJMP will fulfill its assurances to Kapatid.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has ordered the warden of Metro Manila District Jail (MMDJ) Annex 4 to stop the transfer out of Bicutan of all political prisoners.
This is one of the assurances made by BJMP Deputy for Operations Gen. Dennis Rocamora to the relatives of political prisoners detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig, in a dialogue Thursday, Dec. 12.
Fides Lim, spokesperson of Kapatid, an organization of families and friends of political prisoners and wife of peace consultant Vicente Ladlad, said they welcomed the assurances from Rocamora, adding that the BJMP has a mandated vision and mission of “sustained humane safekeeping and development of inmates,” and the core values of “respect for human rights” and the principle of “humane treatment of inmates.”
“We hope and pray that the BJMP will fulfill its assurances to Kapatid,” Lim said in a statement.
Rocamora also assured that the BJMP will not anymore file requests to the court for transfer of political prisoners and will not oppose or counter the opposition filed in court by lawyers of affected political prisoners concerning existing motions for their transfer. The BJMP will also not act on the old list of other political prisoners with pending requests for transfer.
“This is also in response to the position of Kapatid that no political prisoner in Bicutan wants to be transferred because of concerns for their personal security,” said Lim.
Last month, the political prisoners in Bicutan revealed that there are requests for transfer of political prisoners to local jails. Such requests were made by the BJMP, citing the letter from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana who requested the transfer. There are pending requests for transfer for 13 political detainees namely Frank Fernandez and Cleofe Lagtapon, Oliver Rosales, Ireneo Atadero, Edisel Legaspi, Julio Lusania, Adelberto Silva, Christopher Reduta and Maximo Reduta;, Rey Casambre, Archie Salvan, Rocky Torres and Avelardo Avellaneda. Maximo Reduta was already transferred to Gumaca, Quezon.
In just two weeks, the courts issued orders to transfer them to the jail facilities outside of Metro Manila where cases were filed against them, the group said. Relatives of the political detainees were alarmed since they will not be able to visit their loved ones, some are elderly and sickly, if the transfers would be implemented. Silva, for one, is recovering from a quintuple heart bypass. Silva has no relatives in Sta. Cruz, Laguna where his case has been filed. His family members live near Taguig which makes it easier for them to bring food and other needs. “It will also be of great help that we are near should his health suddenly require immediate or emergency attention,” Sharon Cabusao, wife of Silva said during the dialogue.
Irineo Atadero and Julio Lusania’s children are also appealing not to transfer their respective fathers who are sickly.
Kapatid and human rights group Karapatan hit the Executive Order No. 70, series of 2018 as the motive behind the transfer.
EO 70, which outlines the implementation of the “whole of nation approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).” “How are we supposed to believe the BJMP that the reason for the transfers is to facilitate court hearings when court motions make explicit ‘references’ to letters from BJMP director Allan Iral and BJMP officials on the ‘the institutionalization of a whole-of-government approach’ supposedly to prevent opportunities for Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) to conduct organized activities while under detention,’” Lim said.