Letter of Bicutan Political Prisoners Regarding Prison Harassment

Suggested discussions and consultations among the BJMP and a number of human rights organizations in regard to rights and long-standing problems of detainees at the SICA 1 Jail
6 January 2014
In the BJMP National Heaquarters’s Special Cases Investigator, J/Insp. Montano Albino Abarico’s investigative visit to us here at the SICA 1 Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa, last 23 December, among matters he and two of our representatives (fellow NDFP peace consultants and political detainees, Alan Jazmines and Tirso Alcantara) discussed were a number of issues, where NDFP peace consultants and other political detainees have been pointing to conflicts between rules, prerogatives and doings of the BJMP on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the rights of detainees.
1. Among such issues have been the complaints, not only of political detainees, but also of many other detainees at the Special Intensive Care Area 1 (SICA 1) Jail regarding unjust, foul and cruel confiscations made during BJMP-NHQ “greyhound” operations:
a) including what we, political detainees and other inmates, have been complaining about as too limited and unrealistic list of items (25 for male inmates, plus an additional 2 for female inmates) allowed by the BJMP for the use of detainees (as per the BJMP’s Standard Operating Procedure No. 2004-02), and relatedly the very absurd and unreasonable confiscations by the BJMP-NHQ “greyhound” operatives of actually harmless and essential possessions of detainees, and the BJMP-NHQ’s the even more absurd justifications of such,
b) the actual theft of some valuables, such as money, expensive vitamins and others,
c) and the failure of the BJMP-NHQ to return the non-illegal confiscated items — even in accordance with the BJMP’s own rules.
Such confiscations include those of:
a1) a typewriter sent to us by the NDFP peace panel, with the intercession of the Comission on Human Rights and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, and directly brought to us here by the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, so that we may at least still be able to do some of our part of the work in the peace process as NDFP peace consultants still under detention, despite our supposed protection from such, and even if what we can actually do for the peace process have been very much constrained under such conditions;
a2) transistor radios, thus depriving us of our rights (as per the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, under Resolution #663C1 XX1V of the U.N. Economic and Social Council, 31 July 1937) to be kept abreast of current events, news and developments — including political and socio-economic-cultural — such that we should be allowed access to newspapers, radios, television and other medium for news broadcasts.
a3) ballpens that we need very much for writing notes, letters, statements, etc., small blunt scissors we use for clipping of newspapers, for art and handicraft work, long-handle toothbrushes, and many similar personal necessities that are actually even sold in the local coop store run by the local BJMP management;
a4) CD/DVD disks (even if ironically on the topic of human rights);
a5) a number of stoves and rice-cookers, even if we are very much in need of such, considering there are about a hundred of such being used in our jail, with the permission of local jail authorities, and more essentially, considering that we need to cook our food, using more healthy food materials, given the very poor, unhealthy food rations given to us;
a6) relatedly, there is the issue in regard to the proceedures and conduct of BJMP-NHQ “greyhound” operations, including many cases of the wanton spoiling of our food, medicines, beddings and personal belongings, and even the theft of our valuables, in the course of BJMP-NHQ “greyhound” operations, especially when the victimized detainees are not around and there is no one-on-one accompanyment by detainee per “greyhound” operative;
a7) there is also the issue of the need to leave in the custody of the local jail authorities the confiscated — but not illegal — items, in order for such to be properly returned to our families or other authorized representatives, instead of hauling all confiscated items all the way to the BJMP-NHQ, and leaving out any chance of the confiscated — but not illegal — items to be properly returned to our families or authorized representatives. (This is because, of the confiscated — but not illegal — items that were hauled off to the BJMP-NHQ, not a single one of such have ever been properly returned to our families or other authorized representatives — as should have been the case, in accordance with our rights as well as the BJMP’s own proceedures.)
2. There is also the issue in regard to our long-standing complaint about the very, very poor  quality and unhealthy food rations given to us here at the SICA 1 Jail. For several years already, the type of food rations given to us have not changed at all in quality nor even in content and variety. We are always given the cheapest food in the market, and not even once, for many years already, were we ever given food with more healthy green leafy vegetables. Not only do we receive the cheapest food ration in the country (for one, because no city government adds to our food budget, unlike in other jails in other cities in Metro Manila and other cities in the country, that — in concern for the very low budget for food rations given to prison inmates — add at least P20 to P50 per detainee to their detainees’ food budget). Worse, in our computations, we anomalously do not actually receive, in real food value, even the equivalent of one half of the nominal P50/inmate/day food budget supposedly allocated to us. We are now further refused to be given our food rations in raw form, as we had been been receiving in the past, so that we can prepare our food much better than what the jail authorities provides us in very stingy and very poor manner.
4. There also now the problem of a new schedule which allows us only one hour of “sunning” and exercise in open air for only an hour a week, whereas our human rights and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, under Resolution #663C1 XX1V of the U.N. Economic and Social Council, 31 July 1937), in particular, requires that we be allowed “at least an hour of exercise in open air daily.”
5. And there is also the issue of grave violations of justice in our cases.
All of us, political detainees here — like several hundreds of other political detainees in other jails in the country — are actually victims of trumped-up criminalized cases, in violation of the Hernandez Doctrine. The numerous trumped-up criminalized cases filed against us were meant to keep us in jail for many years, if not practically indefinitely.
Moreover, many of us have been suffering the serious problem of many, many times, for long periods — and for many reasons — not being brought to court hearings, especially if the courts hearings on cases are in far away provinces. This has greatly made even worse the already very exceedingly slow grind of justice in our cases.
Court hearings on our cases are heard very sparingly, usually once every quarter or even much longer. In fact, many of us, political detainees here, have already been suffering the overly long hibernation of justice and have actually not been brought to court for several years — some for about or even more than a decade already, with no help nor even any attention at all on such grave matter given by jail authorities.
There are also many, many cases here where there are serious anomalies in the very detention of victims of illegal and inhuman detention — of minors when arrested and detained, of elderlies still in jail, of many sickly detainees (a number have already died here because of their serious aliments unattended to), of those detained under mistaken identities, of those long detained with archived cases or cases that have taken several years just for the change of venue, after having been transferred to this jail from courts in far away provinces.
These are but a few of the issues that we have raised, and further need to raise, not only with J/Insp. Abarico, but also with others we have been asking and further need to ask help for — including government and human rights organizations, the Supreme Court, senate/congressional bodies and others concerned.
Aside from these, there are actually even more violations of our rights and more standing issues, which also need to taken up and resolved, and which also very much and very urgently need the intercession and help of higher organs and human rights organizations within and outside the government.
J/Insp. Abarico suggested a conference among the BJMP and human rights organizations, including the Commission on Human Rights and those in non-government organizations, which have been helping us and working to guarantee the respect and protection of human rights of the people, including political and other aggrieved prisoners. He particularly asked us to help the BJMP to get in touch with the said human rights organizations and help work out the suggested conference.
We very much welcome J/Insp. Abarico’s suggestion, and are thus asking your help in working out of the suggested conference, just as we will also do what we can to help. We ask, in particular, that the concerned organizations send their explicit agreement to the suggested conference, and also, early enough, to identify who would be their representatives to the suggested conference.
We also ask for assurance and hope there would be no reprisals in any manner, because of our complaints, our initiatives, and this our letter.
We look forward for your soonest positive reply and active intercession and help in this regard.
NDFP peace consultants
Alan Jazmines
Emeterio Antalan
Leopoldo Caloza
Tirso Alcantara
and other political detainees at the SICA 1 Jail, Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City