Ailing detainee back in jail after Duterte’s lifting of ceasefire

Ailing detainee back in jail after Duterte’s lifting of ceasefire

10 February 2017

AN AILING political prisoner recuperating in a care facility had been
taken back to jail last February 4 after President Rodrigo Duterte
lifted his government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration with the
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Amelia Pond, teacher and curriculum developer of the Lumad school
Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanogon Learning Center (STTICLC), was brought
back to Tagum District Jail by her police guards reportedly on “orders
from the top.”

Sr. Francis Añover, RSM of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
(RMP) said she was told by the guards when she rushed to assist Pond
that the sudden transfer was due to Duterte’s lifting of the ceasefire
and that they were ordered by the Tagum jail warden that all political
prisoners be brought back to detention.

Pond, also the regional coordinator of RMP-Southern Mindanao Region was
arrested by the Philippine National Police when she stepped out of their
group’s national assembly in Cebu City last August 19.

The PNP said Pond was “Adelfa Toledo” but witnesses said the arresting
officers put a fake identification card in her bag. She faces murder and
attempted murder charges.

Pond reportedly presented to the guards a certification from the warden
that she is allowed to stay at the Capernaum care facility for a month
to recuperate but her pleas fell on deaf ears.

Pond was taken to the Southern Philippines Medical last November 11,
2016 for a lumbar spine operation. She was also diagnosed to be
suffering from chronic renal infection, osteoporosis, and hyperlipidemia
or abnormally high concentration of fats or lipids in the blood.

Añover said they also sought the hospital director’s help to stop the
transfer but he was out.

Añover said Pond suffered during the transfer from Davao City to Tagum
jail, repeatedly crying out in pain and asking the driver to slow down
and stop for rest.

At the jail facility, Pond was taken back to her old cell beside the
toilet, the nun said.

“She cannot bend due to her lumbar problem while the other prisoners
sleep on the floor with only cardboards and mats,” Añover said.

The missionary nun said she also sought out the warden but the jail
officer was out.

“I wanted to point out to him that he gave a certification allowing Amy
(Pond) to be transferred to Capernaum from the hospital ward while
undergoing PT (physical therapy) but it was clear that they made sure
the transfer from the hospital to the jail happened on a Saturday as the
important people with whom we can talk to and complain were not around,”
Añover said.

Humanitarian grounds

Human rights group Karapatan said Pond was among the 130 sickly
political prisoners recommended for immediate release on humanitarian
grounds under the NDFP-Duterte government peace talks.

“The release of political prisoners is a priority agenda in both the
first and second peace negotiations, with the Government of the
Philippines (GRP) continuously reaffirming its commitment towards this
end,” Karapatan, in a December 5 statement, said.

Last December, Pond appealed to Duterte for her immediate release.

“Perhaps the Duterte government would recognize that I am elderly with
poor health and that I am just a simple educator. What happened to me is
a big disregard to the efforts to alleviate the conditions of one of the
poorest, backward and oppressed sectors among the Filipinos, which are
the Lumad,” she said.

Despite repeated promises by Duterte and the GRP Negotiating Panel in
their peace negotiations with the NDFP, however, none of the 130 sickly
political detainees has been released.

Harassment

Añover also reported unusual activities around the RMP Davao
headquarters after Pond’s sudden transfer to Tagum jail.

“Two nights ago, the dog we have at the office compound had been going
around barking. And since yesterday, February 8, we noticed there are
two burly persons with a motorcycle standing at both sides of the gate,”
Añover said.

“We had a collective decision to be vigilant and not to go out alone,”
she added.

Founded by the Association of Major Women Religious Superiors of the
Philippines (AMWRSP) of the Roman Catholic Church in 1969, RMP is
national, inter-diocesan and inter-congregational organization of men
and women religious, priests and lay people who live and work with peasants.

They establish and operate Lumad and peasant schools like STTICLC which
the Armed Forces of the Philippines allege to be communist New People’s
Army-influenced schools. (Raymund B. Villanueva/Photo by Karapatan)