DOJ urged to free innocent Muslim detainees

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2012 12:53 PM | Updated as of Jul 13 2012 08:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Moro Christian People's Alliance called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expedite the cases against "innocent" Muslims languishing in jail for crimes they did not supposedly commit.

The alliance said these Muslim detainees were "political prisoners."

In a picket this morning at the DOJ, the group called on the immediate release of these detainees in different detention facilities in the country. The group said there is a total of 249 detainees in Camp Bagong Diwa, Basilan Provincial Jail, Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, and the Gen. Santos City jail, including a total of 25 "recognized as organic members" by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

"They are innocent civilians who were arbitrarily arrested, tortured, illegally detained and invariably presented to the public as members or supporters of what are labeled as terrorist organizations such as the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) and the Jemaah Islamiyah. They serve as trophies and sacrificial lambs at the altar of the 'anti-terrorism program,'" the group said in a statement.

The alliance marked today as the 11th year of the "arbitrary arrests, torture and detention of innocent Moro civilians who were victims of the past Arroyo regime's declaration of a state of lawlessness in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi ang [the] Zamboanga peninsula." The alleged crackdown led to the arrest of hundreds, the group claimed.