9 June 2011 Reference: Cristina Palabay, Tanggol Bayi Spokesperson (0917-5003879)
WOMEN’S RIGHTS GROUP QUESTIONS SINCERITY OF GPH IN PEACETALKS, CALLS FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF PURCRAY AND ALL WOMEN POLITICAL PRISONERS
Women’s rights group Tanggol Bayi today questioned the sincerity of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) in its peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, with the continued incarceration of 336 political prisoners nationwide, including 17 peace consultants of the NDFP and especially with the recent statements from the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“While special privileges are given to the few and moneyed prisoners, political prisoners are left languishing in jails for fabricated charges. There are serious doubts already on the sincerity of the GPH in fulfilling its commitment to undertake steps towards the expeditious release of political prisoners in the Oslo Joint Statement dated February 21, 2011, with the DND and AFP’s bullying stance on the issue of the release of the peace consultants ,” Cristina Palabay, convenor of Tanggol Bayi, said.
Palabay added that in fact the government, in its arrest and continued detention of the 17 peace consultants, are in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed by the GPH and the NDFP in 1995. Under such agreement, no arrests or detention of NDFP consultants or members who are protected by the agreement must be made.
“Women human rights defenders also particularly raise the state violations on the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 with the continuing incarceration of Maria Luisa Purcray, the only woman peace consultant who is being detained at the Agusan del Norte Provincial Jail. With Purcray’s continued detention, her participation as a peace consultant is being impeded,” Palabay commented.
Purcray is an NDFP peace consultant on the concerns of indigenous peoples, peasant and women in Northern Mindanao. She is also suffering from osteoporosis, which makes jail conditions difficult for her in jail. UN Security Council resolution 1325 stressed the importance of women’s equal participation and full involvement in the maintenance and promotion of peace and the need to increase the role of women in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution.
“We demand for the immediate release of Purcray and the rest of the 29 women political prisoners as part of the government’s compliance to UN Security Council resolution 1325 and as a means for the immediate resumption of the ,” Palabay concluded.