UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News


Philippine activists revive Marcos-era rights group

Families and friends of political prisoners reform Kapatid, an organization established to fight martial law abuses

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

ucanews.com reporter, Manila

Updated: June 17, 2019 04:52 AM GMT
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Philippine activists revive Marcos-era rights group

Nuns attend the re-launch of Kapatid, an organization of families and friends of political prisoners, in Manila, Philippine on June 15. (Photo by Maria Tan)

Share this article :
Rights activists in the Philippines have revived an organization comprising families and friends of political prisoners that was formed during the martial law years in the 1970s.

The group Kapatid (sibling) was formed in 1978 as a response to a crackdown on political activists during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

More than 40 years later, during the organization's relaunch on June 15, activists noted that there were still more than 500 political prisoners languishing in prison.

"Political prisoners are a symbol of unpeace and injustice," said former senator Wigberto Tanada. "They must be freed," he said.

He said "the criminalization of political dissent is a carryover from the martial law years."

"That this policy has survived into the present speaks volumes about the current state of human rights and justice under this administration," the former legislator added.

Chito Gascon, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, said the existence of political prisoners is not acceptable in a democratic society.

"This is not appropriate for any society that claims to be free and democratic," said Gascon. "Those arrested only stood for their freedom and their rights," he added.

Fides Lim, a member of the Kapatid board and wife of detained activist Vicente Ladlad, said the organization aims to work for the release of all political prisoners.

She called for the immediate release of those who are sick and those who have been in prison for many years already.

Lim cited the case of Ge-Ann Perez, who suffers from leprosy, and Juanito Itaas, the longest detained political prisoner to date, who has been in prison since 1989.

Edre Olalia, chairman of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, noted that political prisoners have been charged with "common crimes" in an attempt to hide the political nature of their cases.

He said it is a violation of legal doctrine that prohibits the "criminalization" of political dissent.

According to human rights group Karapatan, there were 548 political prisoners as of December 2018, at least 225 of whom were arrested since 2016. 

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution