Rights groups demand release of ailing political prisoner on humanitarian grounds

This article is available in Pilipino

The human rights groups Karapatan-Central Visayas and the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) reiterated their call for the release of seriously ill political prisoner Ernesto Jude Rimando Jr. He was arrested on January 6, 2021 and is currently detained at the Metro Manila District Jail-Annex 2 in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

Rimando suffers from many ailments including Stage 4 liver cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary tuberculosis. On May 18, he was taken to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) for examination and it was found that his liver cirrhosis reached Stage 4 liver cancer and he only has three months to live if left untreated. Before this, he had been in and out of the hospital five times.

On June 19, Atty. Kristian Lora of the Visayas Community Law Center, Rimando’s lawyer, filed a petition in a Bohol court for his release based on “recognizance” on humanitarian grounds. This type of temporary freedom is granted to those who are considered “low-risk” and have a low likelihood of absconding.

Attorney Lora filed the petition to allow Rimando to be with his family for the rest of his days. Atty Federico Quevedo and former Quezon City Rep. Atty. Christopher Belmonte also agreed to serve as Rimando’s “legal custodians” and ensure that the prisoner appears in court when summoned.

The petition states that if the court allows it, Rimando will remain at PGH for treatment to at least give him “comfort, relief, support and to address the symptoms of his serious medical condition to improve his quality of life .”

Rimando has long served as a researcher for the Sugbo Workers’ Alliance. He went to Metro Manila in 2020 to get treatment for his liver cirrhosis and sepsis. Before he could receive treatment, he was arrested in Quezon City.

More cruelly, he was blindfolded, tortured and immediately subjected to interrogation. His arresting officers falsely claimed having confiscating guns and grenades from his apartment. The state forces filed an arrest warrant bearing the name “Allan Morales” and insisted this was Rimando. The court dismissed these charges in April 2023 but he remains in jail for other charges under the name “Allan Morales” in the Visayas.

“Thus, he has little time to live as it is, he will even suffer imprisonment. This is not just. He has the right to freedom and proper and continuous treatment. His continued detention is inhumane,” Danah Marie Marcellana, spokesperson of SELDA, said.

AB: Rights groups demand release of ailing political prisoner on humanitarian grounds