Group urges govt. to release peasant women political prisoners

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 6) — A women's group claimed on Saturday that most of the current peasant women political prisoners were detained under the Duterte regime, adding that the creation of an anti-insurgent task force has worsened the persecution of activists.

The Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women has called on the government anew to release 78 peasant women political prisoners, 62 whom were imprisoned under the present administration.

“The fascist Duterte has put 62 innocent peasant women in jail behind bars and deprived them of their rights as women, mothers to their children, and peasants advancing rights to land and livelihood. This March 8 International Women's Day protest, we are calling for their immediate and unconditional release and hold Duterte accountable," Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National chairperson, was quoted as saying in a statement on Saturday.

“Political prisoners, especially the elderly, sick, pregnant women, nursing mothers, those who are due for parole or pardon, at least one spouse each of political prisoner couples and accidental victims of political arrests should be released for humanitarian grounds," she added.

In a separate statement, Amihan also demanded the release of Amanda Echanis—the daughter of slain peace consultant Randy Echanis—and her four-month-old son.

Echanis was arrested along with her son in December, and charged with illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

Anakpawis Party-list, however, claimed that Echanis was "arrested on planted evidence."

RELATED: Daughter of slain peace consultant arrested with newborn son in Cagayan

Amihan said President Rodrigo Duterte's "whole-of-nation" approach to counter-insurgency being led by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict has intensified political persecution of peasant women activists.

The group added that "the police and military are the main implementors of redtagging, fake news peddling and black propaganda against peasant women activists."