Ailing political prisoner in Samar hopes to be freed soon

24 hours under observation. Renato Baleros, 60, is a political prisoner at the Samar Provincial Jail who was captured by the Army at the height of post-Yolanda rebuilding in Western Samar.

Tacloban City – Political prisoner Renato Baleros, 60, who is detained at the Samar Provincial Jail, was rushed to the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in Tacloban City on July 2, after complaining of severe stomach pain.

In a short interview, Baleros shared he first caught fever last week which lasted for three days. He said he started vomiting and feeling stomach pain after.

Last Saturday morning, Baleros was brought to the Samar Provincial Hospital for immediate treatment. The doctor, however, advised his immediate transfer to a “better-equipped hospital” in Tacloban City.

The absence of a court order delayed his travel for several hours. With six police escorts, he arrived in Tacloban at already 11pm.

The attending physician who conducted the check-up said that he might undergo a surgical operation after finding out his kidney and liver have become infected. After 24 hours of observation, he will have to undergo a kidney dialysis treatment.

Baleros, who is considered a “high-value target” by the Army in the region, was captured by elements of the 87th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in a military attack against a unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) in San Jorge, Samar last November 25, 2013.

The said attack took place just two weeks after super typhoon Yolanda hit the province while the NPA was under the order of ceasefire with the Army.

Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Eastern Visayas said that Baleros, arrested with his wife, was charged by Army troops with “trumped-up criminal cases.” At the time of arrest, the NDF said that he was heading the post-Yolanda relief operations of the NPA in Western Samar.

With the opening of formal peace negotiations between the NDF and the Philippine government under President Rodrigo Duterte, Baleros hopes to be freed on humanitarian grounds.

In a Standard report, Baleros is identified among 21 NDF consultants and staff expected to be released before the official resumption of peace talks this month.

Human rights group Karapatan, meanwhile, have long supported the call to release all political prisoners, now at 519, who are either old and sickly and are participants in the peace negotiations.

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Eastern Vista

Eastern Vista is an alternative media organization in Eastern Visayas. Stories of people in the struggle for justice and aid after super typhoon Yolanda inspired its creation in 2014. Eastern Vista is also a co-producer of Lingganay han Kamatuoran, a Waray-based radio magazine program airing since 2003. From Eastern Philippines, Eastern Vista shares the news and views from a people rising.