ON THE RELEASE (Finally!)
OF THE TAGAYTAY FIVE
Today, e-mails went back and forth with the happy news that Riel R.
CUSTODIO, Aristides Q. SARMIENTO, Axel Alejandro A.PINPIN, Enrico Y.
YBANEZ, and Michael M. MASAYES, collectively known as the “Tagaytay Five,”
have all been released from detention and that the rebellion charges
against them have been dismissed in court!
It has been a difficult period for these political prisoners from the day
of their illegal arrest in April 28, 2006 and all throughout their
detention. They were tortured, rendered incommunicado and denied counsel
for days after their arrest, subjected to inhumane prison conditions and
plagued with numerous delays to have their day in court. For their work
with the peasants and farmers, they have been targeted and vilified as
terrorists. As political prisoners, they were treated by the military and
the government as being guilty until proven innocent.
Men of lesser principles would have succumbed to despair but not these
men. The “Tagaytay Five” fought with the weapons they wielded behind bars
– their fasting and hunger strike, their poetry, and their militancy.
Their fierce determination and strong faith that pressure from inside and
outside of prison would ultimately unlock their prison doors never
While the judicial ruling released the “Tagaytay Five,” we see this order
as the culmination of the arduous campaign that these detainees, their
families, supporters, human rights groups and people’s organizations have
worked on for over two years.
Truth is stronger than evil. Truth outweighs lies and falsehoods anytime,
anywhere. Truth finds allies and friends everywhere in the world. And the
“Tagaytay Five” proved just that.
However, justice for these detainees will not be complete until punishment
is meted out to those state security forces who abducted them, tortured
them, kept them incommunicado and detained them despite their innocence.
The unjust detention has caused the detainees and their families a lot of
emotional suffering as well. No less than the Commission on Human Rights
recently recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges
against the Cavite Police and the Naval Intelligence and Security Force
for human rights violations committed against the “Tagaytay Five.” It is
time that the military learn that they are not above the law.
We join the “Tagaytay Five” and their families in their celebration of
their freedom from detention.
29 August 2008
CANADA-PHILIPINES SOLIDARITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (CPSHR) Vancouver, B.C.