Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr has joined the fasting and hunger strike of supporters of political prisoners in the country. The protest was triggered by the death of political detainee Bernabe Ocasla, who was comatose for three days after suffering from cardiac arrest, and died last Monday, November 28.
“Starting today, December 3, I am joining political prisoners in fasting for freedom. I am joining their outrage over the death of political prisoner Bernabe Ocasla. I am joining their protest over the slow pace that their cases are being resolved.” Bayan’s Renato Reyes wrote on Facebook, addressing his concerns to President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I shall fast as long as the political prisoners fast. I shall protest until all political prisoners are free. The release of political prisoners is a matter of justice, long overdue. It is an obligation under existing agreements in the peace talks with the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines.) We call on the Duterte government to act swiftly on this issue.” He added.
The NDF is the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), while the New People’s Army (NPA) is CPP’s military arm. There have been peace negotiations between the NDF and the Philippine government during the past administrations. But apparently, this has been greatly improved when President Duterte won the elections.
Ocasla, 66, is among the NDFP peace consultants charged by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for multiple murder. The release of all political detainees was part of the agenda during the peace talks in Oslo, Norway. However, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said that only 19 of more than 400 political prisoners have been released.
Renato Reyes Jr/BAYAN (New Patriotic Alliance) Facebook
This Sunday, many Catholics attended the mass as support to the hunger strike. Meanwhile, Labor Secretary Silvestre ‘Bebot’ Bello III, who is also the chief of the government peace panel, recently said presidential pardon will soon be granted to suspected communist rebels and convicted criminals who are qualified for release.