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Women’s rights group slams special treatment for GMA, deplores situation of women political prisoners

By TANGGOL BAYI
November 29, 2011

QUEZON CITY  –  “Hospital detention for a notorious human rights violator like Gloria Arroyo, who has no life-threatening illness, is special treatment at its best. This is in stark contrast to the situation of the sick and elderly women political prisoners and other political prisoners who are languishing under dire conditions in jail. This is injustice and double standard at its worst.”

Thus said Cristina Palabay, convenor of Tanggol Bayi, on the court order issued yesterday for the transfer of former Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.

Palabay cited the case of Moreta Alegre, a 65-year old farmer who was imprisoned at the Correctional Institution for Women together with her husband Jesus and son Selman because of trumped up charges of murder, and is suffering with arthritis, hypertension and weak heart due to long years of imprisonment.

“Alegre, together with her family, was among the vocal critics of land grabbing in their community in Negros Occidental, when the landlord heaped upon them fabricated charges of murder to silence their opposition,” she added. Moreta has been in prison for seven years already.

Thus, the woman leader demanded that Arroyo should be detained in a regular jail facility, in the interest of justice, and should not be accorded privileges such as hospital detention.

Tanggol Bayi said that as of October 31, 2011, there are 356 political prisoners (PPs), 77 of them were arrested under the Aquino regime. Of this number, there are 35 women political prisoners, 43 sick and 10 elderly PPs. They are subjected to illegal arrest and detention, extreme torture and unjust conviction on trumped up charges.  Women and children, in particular, are doubly violated through sexual molestation or rape. Political prisoners, more often are charged with criminal offenses to deny the political nature of their case and to reduce them as “common criminals.”

Award-winning film on women political prisoners

In line with the upcoming commemoration of the International Day for Political Prisoners on December 3, Tanggol Bayi is supporting the screening of “Ka Oryang,” a film by Sari Dalena, at the Cine Adarna, UP Diliman on December 2 at 7pm.

“It is my hope that the film will help raise awareness on the conditions of political prisoners and the human rights violations they endured during Martial law that is still happening to this day,” said Dalena.

The film won the Best Pictures, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Music awards in the recent Cinema One Originals Film Festival. Alessandra de Rossi, Joem Bascon and Emilio Garcia stars in this film. “Ka Oryang” is about a young woman who witnesses the beginnings of a revolution during Martial Law, giving a glimpse of the lives and experiences of female political detainees and their struggles.

Cinema One Originals, UP Cineastes’ Studio, and the UP Film Institute organized the screening in UP Diliman. Part of the proceeds will be given to Task Force Freedom, a movement for the release of Maricon Montajes, a UP film student and political detainee in Batangas City Jail. Montajes, 22 years old, was charged with fabricated charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives while she is conducting research for her film thesis in Batangas.