NP ‘shocked’ at Roxas’ attack on orange-clad Cebu inmates
(The Freeman) Updated March 02, 2010 12:00 AM
CEBU, Philippines – Nacionalista Party (NP) spokesman and senatorial bet Adel Tamano yesterday hit back at Liberal Party (LP) vice-presidential bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II for mocking NP standard-bearer Manuel “Manny” Villar’s orange campaign color by maliciously associating it with the Cebu dancing inmates.
While Tamano was not dismayed by Roxas’ swipe, he was nonetheless “shocked at how someone like [Roxas], educated at that, can carelessly pass judgment on people.”
During LP’s political rally in Cebu, Roxas was quoted as saying: “Yung mga dancing inmates na nasa loob ng presohan ay madadagdagan na. Tutal, kapareho ng kulay naka-orange, kaya lahat ng mga tiwali ay magsama-sama na. Lahat ng mga tiwali at lahat ng mga baluktot ay isasama na natin sa loob ng preso.” (The number of dancing inmates will rise. Anyway, they are like the guy in orange, and so all the wrongdoers should stay together. All the wrongdoers and the crooked, we will put inside the provincial jail.)
In reaction, Tamano said inmates are still Filipinos and have rights that must be respected and protected.
“The law cites that people are innocent until proven guilty. Most inmates are still awaiting trial and as such cannot be loosely called criminals, wrongdoers or crooked,” he said.
“Even convicted criminals do not deserve to be dragged into this political mudslinging that our rivals seem to have elevated into an art and focal point of their campaign and platform,” added Tamano.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) also recognizes that detainees who are not convicted of any crime or punished by the Revised Penal Code, penal laws, or regulations are still presumed innocent of the accusations against them. Thus, they, among others, retain their right of suffrage.
The Comelec reported that at least 23,657 detainees are eligible to vote in 414 facilities of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. This represents 43 percent of the total 54,866-detainee population.
The NP bet said Roxas’ remarks have assaulted the inmates of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center who have brought pride and distinction to the Philippines for their synchronized dancing videos on YouTube.
Choreographers of Michael Jackson even filmed the inmates’ dance interpretation of the pop icon’s music. The video clip of the inmates’ performance was included in the globally released music video.
Nonetheless, Tamano thanked Roxas for giving NP a chance to highlight one of its platforms, which is to transform the penal system from ‘retributive’ to ‘restorative.’
Villar vows to push NP’s advocacy of social justice for all Filipinos, including prioritizing the improvement of living conditions in jails, hastening resolution of pending criminal cases, providing legal representation to law offenders, and implementing rehabilitation programs for them as well.
The NP standard-bearer also echoes the church’s continuous call for people to demonstrate compassion towards marginalized groups such as prisoners. — /WAB (FREEMAN NEWS)