Isn’t it ironic?
This was how the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan described President Benigno Aquino’s call for the release of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, even as hundereds of political prisoners remain in Philippine jails.
“It’s really ironic. While it is good that the Philippine government made a call for the release of Ang San Suu Kyi, we can’t help but ask about the Morong 43. One cannot help but notice the slow pace in the release of the Philippines’ own political prisoners,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“Mr. Aquino can set an example to the ASEAN neighbors by releasing all political prisoners immediately. It is time the Philippine president back up his human rights pronouncements with concrete action,” Reyes added.
Bayan reminded Aquino of the more than 300 political prisoners, most of whom were arrested during the Arroyo regime, and are still languishing in jails nationwide. The case of the Morong 43 health workers has drawn international attention because of the blatant disregard for their constitutional rights as well as allegations of torture. The group said that the Arroyo government had a field day arresting and detaining critics mainly from leftist groups.
Aquino recently called on the Myanmar junta to immediately release Suu Kyi during a bilateral meeting at the ASEAN Summit. Myanmar is set to have its first elections in two decades on November 7. The Philippine government has called the elections “a farce”.
Aquino also told Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sien that the Philippines would be willing to share its experiences in the transition from dictatorship to democracy.
“The Aquino government should also fix the human rights problems in its own backyard. This includes solving hundreds of cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, releasing more than 300 political prisoners, and prosecuting the architects of human rights violations from the previous government,” Reyes said.
“The Philippines own human rights track record is not exactly the most outstanding in the ASEAN,” Reyes added.###