On December 26, 2013, Charity Diño, Sonny Rogelio, and Billy Batrina were released from Batangas Provincial Jail, with all charges dismissed by the local court due to lack of evidence.
The three political prisoners were volunteers working as peasant organizers in 2009 when they were abducted and tortured by the Philippine Air Force in Talisay, Batangas. The three were then detained in prison on trumped up charges until their cases were finally brought to court in recent weeks.
Human rights group Karapatan‘s secretary general, Cristina Palabay, commented,
This ruling reaffirms our assertion that fabricated charges heaped upon political activists should be deemed as highly irregular, illegal and unconstitutional acts of repression against social critics of the government, in an attempt to silence them.
Palabay went on to note that Diño, Rogelio, and Batrina were three of 449 political prisoners under the Aquino administration as documented by Karapatan.
The Talisay 3 were among the political prisoners that OCHRP visited in Batangas Provincial Jail as part of their July Global Justice Tour and fact finding mission.
OCHRP member Doug Booker noted,
We are proud of the small contribution that we made to support the Talisay 3 and in campaigning for their release.
While it is heartening to know that the campaign to end their unjust incarceration was ultimately successful, one recognizes that the more trips we made to the Batangas jail, year after year, the more new political detainees we encountered.
While we celebrate this significant victory, we continue to call for the release of all political detainees.
Free all Political prisoners now.
Migrante BC wrote the following letter thanking all individuals and groups for their generous donations of time and effort:
Migrante BC takes this opportunity to wish you a New Year that is kinder, peaceful and abundant for all of us, and more importantly, to say Thank you / Maraming Salamat for entrusting your generous donation to the relief efforts of Sagip Migrante (Migrante Relief), the relief formation of Migrante International and its members overseas, which includes Migrante BC. The support from the ordinary people, Filipinos and non-Filipinos, in British Columbia and the rest of Canada has been overwhelming.
Migrante BC has raised at least $11,000 from individual donations, various fund raising efforts and collections, and from the Day of Solidarity at the Fraserview Banquet Hall. We continue to receive donations in support of the reconstruction phase of the relief operations. Together with our Migrante counterparts in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Alberta and Vancouver, we were able to raise a total of $40,874 as of mid-December – thanks to ordinary people like you. From the most recent update of Sagip Migrante in the Philippines, your donations have been used to deliver approximately over 2000 relief packs and almost 50 balikbayan boxes to various affected communities in Tacloban and Ormoc in Leyte, in Cebu, in Coron, Palawan, in Mindoro Occidental, and in Iloilo.
The Home Office of Migrante International, its local Philippine chapters and its overseas chapters, organized and mobilized to help the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. Sagip Migrante closely coordinated and worked with BALSA (Bayanihan Alay sa Sambayanan / Collective Action in Service of the People). This is the national and multi-sectoral network of the progressive groups to respond to disasters and calamities.
The Sagip Migrante Brigade went with the BALSA national relief caravan for the first wave of relief to Eastern Visayas on Nov 21- 24, 2013. The national relief caravan took off from Manila, Bicol (in Southern Luzon) and Mindanao to converge on Samar and Leyte. The national relief caravan took the land routes, bridges and inter-island ferries; the national convoy consisted of more than 50 vehicles which included at least nine (9) trucks of goods and had over 500 volunteers of students, church people, workers, youth, women, urban poor and health workers.
Of the total 10,000 relief packs distributed by the multi-sectoral efforts under BALSA in this first wave, at least 500 relief packs came from Sagip Migrante. Each pack had the standard contents of five (5) kilos of rice, a kilo of dried fish, half a kilo of mung beans, a kilo of salt, several packs of biscuits, and four (4) cans of sardines and bottled water. They were able to also distribute solar lights for the organizations based in the area doing relief work.
A second Migrante Brigade was dispatched to Samar on Dec.4-9 to distribute relief aid and to reunite families from Manila with their relatives in Samar.
Migrante’s local chapters in Southern Tagalog and in Cebu conducted relief operations, including organizing soup kitchens, thus covering a wider area of relief distribution. Sagip Migrante also coordinated with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the Citizens Disaster Response Center (CDRC) for the sending of balikbayan boxes sent by overseas migrant workers to the affected areas by plane.
Sagip Migrante volunteers contributed to the relief mission of the Serve the People Corps of Southern Tagalog (ST) in Coron, Palawan, one of the islands where typhoon Haiyan made its landfall and devastated many villages. With the contribution of relief packs, Sagip Migrante made sure that they had the resources to set up soup kitchens to feed at least a thousand people.
Sagip Migrante is on-going. Migrante begins its next wave of relief operations in January and will focus on rehabilitation efforts and working with the affected communities on various projects to re-build and fix their houses, help the school children and their schools, build the fishing boats so the people can fish in the sea again, and deliver the much needed seeds and seedlings to farmers. The communities want and need to get on their feet again. Migrante welcomes any volunteers from overseas who would like to be involved in the rehabilitation efforts of BALSA/Sagip Migrante on the ground.
While we continue to work with the typhoon-affected communities in relief and reconstruction, we continue to hold the Philippine government accountable for its delayed and poor disaster response, its handling of international donations, and its anti-people rehabilitation framework.
This New Year will be the New Year of Rising Up, ang Bagong Taon ng Pagbangon. Because these communities will rise…will stand up…using the power of ordinary people.
Jane Ordinario on behalf of Migrante BC (www.migrantebc.com)
December 30, 2013
Photo credits: Shanthi Sivakumaran, UK volunteer with Sagip Migrante