A human rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) appeals to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III for the immediate release of an ailing 63-year old political prisoner. “We strongly appeal to President Aquino to immediately release Tatay Umbrero on humanitarian grounds for his illness to be promptly and properly addressed,” TFDP said in a statement.
Mariano Umbrero is a political prisoner at the national penitentiary New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and was also a victim of human rights violations during the Marcos regime. He was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.
Based on his clinical abstract dated January 31, 2011issued after his check-up at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), Umbrero has Non-Small Cell Carcinoma Stage II B. A few weeks ago, Umbrero complained of difficulty in breathing. He also had a sudden episode of intense epigastric pain which was severe enough to warrant his admission at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the NBP hospital. Aside from the said medical findings, Umbrero is also suffering from multiple organ problems that include his heart and liver.
TFDP added that due to imposed perpetual confinement, lack of proper medical care and without timely medical attention and essential needs inside the NBP, Umbrero’s physical and mental health has worsened and is in critical condition. Since Umbrero was diagnosed, his cancer has already progressed to Stage IV.
According to TFDP, Umbrero, a suspected member of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) was convicted and incarcerated for the crime of murder, kidnapping with serious illegal detention. He was sentenced and made to suffer the penalty of “reclusion perpetua” or life imprisonment. Umbrero was detained during the 80s in Cagayan province before he was transferred to the NBP. Despite his conviction, Umbrero consistently stressed that he had never participated in any of the activities of the said armed rebel group including the crime that he was accused and convicted of. He asserted that he was arrested and jailed not because of being suspected to be an NPA member but because of his principles and stance on issues affecting the lives of marginalized people.
Under the International Humanitarian Law, specifically in the provision on the Protection of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked, it is stated that, “All wounded, sick and shipwrecked, to whichever Party he/she belongs, shall be respected and protected. In all circumstances, they shall be treated humanely and shall receive, to the fullest possible extent and with the least possible delay, the medical care and attention required by their condition. There shall be no distinction between them on any other grounds.” ###
For more information please contact:
Egay Cabalitan Jr. (Advocacy staff) – 09219645017
Mila Gaddi (Direct Services Program Staff)- 09184886044
TFDP – tel: 4378054; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.tfdp.net