My last Tinig Migrante column in the past issue of Philippine News Today was on “Senior
Citizen: Gerardo Dela Pena (Tatay Gerry)” and this column follows up on that. I shared his
story with another senior friend of mine, Orval Chapman. He is a retired schoolteacher,
active in his community, and in social justice.
We read the letters from Kapatid, the support group of families and friends of the political
prisoners, that were delivered to the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The letters were
about implementing the Writ of Kalayaan and the appeal to get Tatay Gerry out of
prison. Orval and I decided to send our own letters by email, July 5, to Chief Justice
Alexander Gesmundo and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen to support the campaign of
Kapatid. In our letter, Orval Chapman and I wrote:
We write to ask for your help in expediting the release of Mr. Gerardo dela Pena,
also known as Tatay Gerry, who is currently detained at the Minimum-Security
Compound of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. We understand that he was
transferred there last year after nine years in the Maximum-Security Compound.
We follow the reports of Kapatid, the support group of the families and friends of
political prisoners, and we are concerned about Tatay Gerry’s health. Tatay
Gerry, at 84 years, is the oldest political prisoner, and he is doing poorly, his
eyesight is not good, and his hearing is deteriorating.
We ask that the Supreme Court institutionalize the extraordinary legal remedy of
the Writ of Kalayaan so that this protective writ can be invoked for political
prisoners like Tatay Gerry to address the poor conditions of detention,
deteriorating health, and redress problems of injustice.
Reports on the Writ of Kalayaan, as expressed by Kapatid in their letter to your
office, “give hope to families of political prisoners that this can be an answered
prayer for those in the order of precedence for possible release…. these include
minors when arrested, the very elderly and those with life-threatening health
conditions, pregnant and nursing mothers, and those serving long sentences.”
We hope that the Writ of Kalayaan can help bring Mr. Gerardo (Tatay Gerry) Dela
Pena home to his family very soon. And the other political prisoners in extreme
need of relief that can be provided by the Writ of Kalayaan. We hope for good
news on Tatay Gerry’s case.
Sincerely yours, Orval Chapman and Erie Maestro |
British Columbia, Canada.
On July 10th, the Supreme Court responded through the Judiciary Public Assistance
Section of the Supreme with: “Greetings! We acknowledge receipt of your email and
are pleased to inform you that the proposed rules on the Writ of Kalayaan is being
worked on by the Committee. Best, JPAS Team, Judiciary Public Assistance Section
(JPAS) Supreme Court of the Philippines.”
We hope that the Supreme Court finishes its work on the Writ of Kalayaan because it
is urgent for Tatay Gerry and for the other political prisoners who are elderly, sick,
and in need of this protective Writ.
The same goes for the officials of the Philippine Bureau of Corrections who promised to
speed up the release of Tatay Gerry on humanitarian grounds, before Tatay Gerry
becomes totally blind, deaf, demented, and dies in prison.
If you want to add your voices to those appealing for the release of Tatay Gerry, please
send your letter of concern to the Supreme Court at email@example.com.
You can also support the work of KAPATID and
visit https://www.facebook.com/kapatid.politicalprisoners. Let us help bring Tatay Gerry
home to his family. ###