MANILA, 31Aug2013 – “Aquino’s penchant for giving special treatment to high profile and notorious rights violators and thieves is once again illustrated in the case of Janet Napoles and former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Avelino Razon. The double standard is obvious and sickening, as compared to the inhuman treatment of political prisoners and common offenders,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
According to Malacanang officials and news reports Napoles was personally escorted by Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte and Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III to meet and surrender herself to Pres. Aquino. Aquino himself and his escorts served as advance party to Camp Crame where Napoles was brought, not to the regular detention facility at the PNP Custodial Center but to the General Headquarters. She was not handcuffed. She was brought to an air-conditioned “cell” last night at the Makati City Jail, with a hundred escorts from the PNP. She brought with her an airbed to sleep on.
Meanwhile, Karapatan received reports that Gen. Razon, who surrendered himself to authorities, is also in an air-conditioned “cell” in the PNP Custodial Center, with a separate entrance and exit area to his “cell.”
“We can’t help but compare these forms of special treatment with how they conduct illegal arrests, the disregard of constitutional rights, the torture, and how military and police officials gloat when they parade the political prisoners accusing and treating them as criminals! The political prisoners, unlike the plunderers, are not criminals but were detained based on fabricated criminal charges because of their activism for people’s rights,” Palabay commented.
Karapatan documented 430 political prisoners in various detention centers all over the country, 136 of them arrested and detained under Aquino.
“It is unnerving that real criminals, the powerful and rich ones, are treated like kings and queens while those who defend people’s rights are treated like animals – crammed in cells, living on a one-fish-a-day budget, to name a few. Aquino should release all political prisoners and should put in jail those who plundered the nation’s coffers and those who orchestrated and carried out extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, torture and other human rights violations,” she said.
Razon had warrants of arrest for his involvement in the graft and malversation charges in connection with a contract for the repair and maintenance of 28 V-150 light armored vehicles amounting to more than P400 million in 2007. He is also charged in the criminal case on the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos, hearings of which have not been proceeding in the Department of Justice.
Karapatan also derided the continuing detention of former Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in a hospital suite at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, as among the prior case of special treatment being accommodated by the Aquino administration.