Related topics

Euphoria, Then Wait, Then Freedom With PM-Philippines, Bjt

February 27, 1986

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The first political prisoners released by the Philippine’s new president, Corazon Aquino, left the military camps that had held them saying they did not regret the actions for which the were imprisoned.

″It’s part of the sacrifice to gain freedom,″ said Rodolfo Maclang, who was accused by the former Marcos administration of setting fires around Manila six years ago. ″I have no regrets.″

At least a dozen people were taken out of the Bicutan and Fort Bonifacio military camps in the Manila area, the first of more than 400 prisoners Mrs. Aquino’s government says may be freed soon.

They included three of the best-known prisoners of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos: former University president Nemesio Prudente, 59; Roman Catholic priest The Rev. Edicio dela Torre; and Horacio Morales, 42, a one- time official in Marcos’ government who went underground and allegedly headed the pro-communist National Democratic Front.

″Of course, I’m happy. The people have won,″ said Prudente.

The prisoners were released two days after Marcos was toppled in a 75-hour military-backed ″people power″ revolt. One of them, well-known poet Milagros Aguilar, 35, said she was grateful.

But she said the euphoria of hearing about the revolution made her release anticlimactic. Ms. Aguilar hasd been jailed since 1984 for ″rebellion and subversion.″

Asked how she felt about the new government, Ms. Aguilar said, ″Well, I’d like to give them a chance.″

Mrs. Aquino’s late husband, Benigno Aquino, was imprisoned by Marcos for more than seven years before he was allowed to take exile in the United States. Aquino’s assassination upon his return in 1983 marked the beginning of Marcos’ downfall.

Mrs. Aquino’s newly appointed executive secretary, Joker Arroyo, had been the lawyer for many of the prisoners being released.

Among those still held in military stockades is Jose Maria Sison, alleged chairman of the outlawed Philippine Communist Party, who is charged with rebellion. Arroyo is also his lawyer.

Romeo Castillo, 32, a trade union leader held for two years on subversion charges, hugged his fiance, Maritess Angeles, 25. Both wept.

Many prisoners, including Morales, have said they were tortured.

But others reportedly enjoyed comforts including video recorders and television sets, and some were held in compounds where guests were allowed to mingle freely with them, and even have parties.

As inmates were escorted out of Bicutan, some rushed to a wall where their mug shots were posted, to make identification easier if they tried to sneak out. They tore off the photos to keep as souvenirs.

Update hourly