Message of Angie Ipong, former political prisoner in the Philippines, for IWD 2011

Angie Ipong, a peace advocate in the Philippines who devoted her life to the cause of peace and human rights, was arrested on March 8, 2005 by armed men who identified themselves as members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Police. Upon her unjustified arrest, Angie was disappeared for 14 days and subjected to sexual abuse and torture. She was later incarcerated at the Pagadian City Jail and slapped with fabricated cases of arson and murder. In February 17, 2011, upon dismissal of the cases filed against her, 66-year old Angie was finally released from prison.

Below is Angie’s letter written in English:

At last I am free! After 6 years of prison life, I cherish with great joy the freedom won, dismissed of all the charges.

Today, International Women’s Day, the day I was abducted brings back the memory of that terrible ordeal I passed through in the hands of my captors. Illegally detained, tortured, sexually molested and landed in jail to stay for 6 years.

Now, I could not imagine how I have managed to cope up with all the fears, anguish, boredom, loneliness, and all the challenges I went through in these 6 years. I know my captors wanted me to rot in jail, get cowed and bow down but I always believe that to give ourselves for service to our people, to do what is good, what is right and just, in the end, the truth will triumph. Imprisonment becomes an integral consequence of our commitment.

Indeed in my 6 years of prison life I never felt I wasted my stay. The guiding voice I clung to which gave me the strength could be summed up in these few quotes:

“Bloom where you are planted”

“Prison walls, iron bars and barbed wires can only imprison the body but not our mind, our thoughts and what we stand for.

With these I tried to learn many things in jail and put them into practice. Whether it was creating and tending the organic vegetable garden, or sewing, making indigenous cards, cooking, sharing and bonding with inmates, making culture and arts flourish, pushing for reforms inside the jail. All these kept me busy and productive.

Of course my 6 years in jail would have been really unbearable without the help of our fellow political detainees, fellow inmates, good and understanding jail authorities and guards.

The untiring efforts of my brother and sisters, my daughter, my closest kins, my lawyers, human and women’s rights advocates here and abroad have helped so much in giving us comfort through visits, hastening resolution of our cases, helping us with our needs.

All these buoyed up my spirit, gave me the strength and courage and kept me whole and intact. Thank you so much.

I wish that the ordeal I suffered in the hands of my captors would never happen again. It is demeaning to one’s womanhood.

I know there are still so many political prisoners languishing in jail especially women political detainees. I hope they too would soon be freed. There is no sense and no humanity in keeping them rot in jail when their productive and reproductive capacities could be tapped and maximized and be of great service to our people as molders of our youth and society.

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