People of Southern Tagalog Grieve, Demand Justice Over Eduardo Serrano’s Death

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The various sectors and human rights organizations in Southern Tagalog are one with the people in deep sadness and utmost condemnation on the untimely passing of Eduardo “Ka Eddik” Serrano, a peasant leader and organizer, peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and a political prisoner for almost 12  years.

Led by BAYAN-Southern Tagalog and Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, the people of the region are mourning as they pay their highest tribute to Ka Eddik who was a courageous defender of the rights and interest of the toiling masses of Mindoro and the whole region since the time of Martial Law until his demise.

Serrano died of cardiac arrest last Friday, January 08 after being hospitalized since December 16 due to heart attack and after surviving a critical angioplasty operation. Had he survived, he would be a free man as the trumped up cases he was facing were dismisssed one by one by the courts. It was proven in the trial courts that he was not the “Rogelio Villanueva” being alleged by the military who was responsible for the fabricated and non-balaible offenses such as multiple murder, homicide and kidnapping.

Despite the earlier assertion of his defense that he was not Villanueva, the manipulations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the slow pace of justice in the country has ultimately dragged his case to more than 11 years, one of the longest for a political prisoner in the Philippines. Similar to the  fate of more than 500 political prisoners across the country to date, Ka Eddik was deprived of his freedom and suffered wanton injustice by the Gloria Arroyo and B.S. Aquino regimes.

His prolonged detention and the dire situation inside the prison has caused a serious toll on his health which led to his condition.  This scheme of legal persecution is outlined in the counter-insurgency measure of the government namely Arroyo’s OPLAN Bantay Laya 1 & 2 and Aquino’s OPLAN Bayanihan, which was designed to cripple organized dissent of the people.

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The injustice against Ka Eddik and his fellow detainees prevailed even after Aquino’s promise to correct the mistakes of the past regime. As a legitimate consultant of the NDFP, his illegal arrest and incarceration after attending a consultation on the peace process in 2004, is a clear violation of the agreements between the Governemnt of the Philippines and NDFP such as the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humaniratian Law (CARHRIHL).

Instead of heeding the call for the release of innocent political prisoners and the return to negotiations, the government has consistently ignored this and advanced its legal offensive against activists and NDFP consultants. Even the persistent appeal by human rights groups on humanitarian grounds have fell on deaf ears.

In fact, cases of human rights violations have worsen under Noynoy, which saw the continuous rise of political prisoners, prominently the illegal arrests of high profile leaders and even pregnant women like Andrea Rosal and Miradel Torres who hailed from Southern Tagalog. His fascist policies have also extended to the killings of lumad leaders and the massive evacuation of indegenous people, as well as  forging a de facto agreement on the return of US bases in the country through the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Ultimately, the Aquino regime has shared the liability for the death of Ka Eddik.

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A native of Bicol, Serrano graduated from the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) with an agriculture degree and took part in the First Quarter Storm to fight the Marcos dictatorship. He left a promising and lucrative career to serve the broad marginalized sectors by organizing and imparting his knowledge to the peasants of Mindoro and Southern Tagalog for almost 40 years before he was arrested on false charges. Truly, Ka Eddik has lived the virtues of a genuine Iskolar ng Bayan, that is to serve selflessly the people full-time and with his life.

The people of Southern Tagalog and those nameless people he served in the countryside and the many he inspired are mourning his death. His remarkable commitment and contribution in advancing the struggle for justice, genuine freedom and national democracy will remain in the hearts and minds of the people of Southern Tagalog as they demand for justice and asssert their call to free all political prisoners. #

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