March 26, 2017

Student union to GRP: “You rendered the death of Bernabe Ocasla with your bloody hands!”

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The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) laments the death of peasant leader Bernabe Ocasla, a 66-year old political prisoner who succumbed from cardiac arrest Tuesday, November 28. The student union also puts the blame on the government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), which until now, has not yet released a single political prisoner following its positive declaration on the matter after the second round of the peace negotiations.

“We are at extreme fury with the death of a fellow patriot and a comrade. Bernabe Ocasla, accused of false charges, has done nothing but fight for the Filipino people’s interests. Until now, hundreds of political prisoners are still in jail, putting their lives on jeopardy for wrong accusations bestowed by the state forces to silence them and their cause. His death is a reminder that the government has not yet fulfilled its promise to the Filipinos: the release of all political prisoners in the country,” Kevin Castro, NUSP spokesperson, said.

Ocasla, one of the 130 political prisoners who should have been released by the Duterte administration based on humanitarian grounds, is the first political prisoner who died under the current regime.

“As if the current administration is waiting for the passing of all political prisoners, this just shows that this government is not at all sincere with its own declarations regarding the agreed upon matter. They promised to release all political prisoners, until now, not a single individual has been freed. We need to remind President Duterte and his cohorts that these people are not hostages. Their release is a show of goodwill from the state that indeed it is for the advancement of just and lasting peace in the country,” Castro continued.

Castro also mentioned that the government, both the past administration of Noynoy Aquino and the current regime of Rodrigo Duterte, is accountable for the death of Ocasla.

“Aquino and his cohorts are the ones to blame for the death of Ocasla. His fascist ways made sure that the progressives will be imprisoned even if the charges filed against them are absurd. However, the current regime also plays a vital role for allowing such death. The system being maintained and protected by the state, in which the economic and political power are controlled by an imperialist country (United States) and by the ruling elites, makes such unfortunate events possible. The death of Bernabe Ocasla lies on the bloody hands of the GRP!” Castro stated.

The National Union, extending its condolences to the family and relatives of Ocasla, guaranteed that the fight for the release of all political prisoners will intensify as the International Human Rights’ Day draws nearer. The student union also slams the current regime for the ongoing fascism delivered by the state to the masses in the countryside. Amidst the unilateral ceasefire from both armed parties, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and its paramilitaries are persistent on attacking communities in the countryside and killing civilians.

“This is the present reflection of state fascism: attacking communities, especially those of the Lumad, and killing innocent civilians. Until now, military rule dictates the dire situation in the countryside through the Oplan Bayanihan being continued with the current regime. This, along with the delayed release of political prisoners, is a crucial matter that must stop once and for all if the GRP still wants to talk peace with the militant rebels,” Castro ended.#

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