Kapatid Photo courtesy of Kapatid.

Group appeals to SC for release of ‘oldest’ political prisoner

June 20, 2023 Hector Lawas 550 views

KAPATID, a support group for political prisoners, gathered outside the Supreme Court (SC) in Padre Faura, Manila, on Tuesday, urging SC justices to intervene and expedite the release of 84-year-old Gerardo Dela Peña, the “oldest” political prisoner in the country.

Displaying a photograph of Dela Peña, the group affixed pictures of him and white paper doves bearing the inscription “Writ of Kalayaan” to the front gate of the SC using blue ribbons.

In a symbolic gesture, the activists wore blue attire to represent baby River, the daughter of Reina Mae, and the pursuit of freedom akin to the vast blue sky.

Fides Lim, the spokesperson for Kapatid, expressed hope that the Writ of Kalayaan, once implemented, would bring relief to political prisoners.

Kapatid also delivered letters to Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo and Senior Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, urging them to take necessary actions to expedite Dela Peña’s release.

The elderly prisoner has been incarcerated for a decade, while bureaucratic procedures have hindered progress on his case, further deteriorating his health and eyesight.

In their letter to the High Court, Lim emphasized that Dela Peña’s dire condition exemplified the urgent need for institutionalizing the Writ of Kalayaan.

The slow and burdensome bureaucratic processes, similar to substandard prison conditions, infringe upon the right to life, the right to health, and the right against cruel, degrading, or inhuman punishment, she said.

Kapatid also called on the SC to initiate stakeholder consultations to strengthen the purpose and impact of the Writ of Kalayaan, as well as garner support.

Lim expressed the hope that Kapatid, as the group that initiated the petition in April 2020 for the release of medically vulnerable persons deprived of liberty (PDLs), which subsequently led to the extraordinary legal remedy of the Writ of Kalayaan, would be included in any consultative process and have a voice at the table when the SC convenes a stakeholder summit regarding the new writ.