Political prisoner, 74, dies in Kalinga hospital

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Marcos Aggalao

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Marcos Aggalao, the oldest political prisoner in the country, died Tuesday night, September 12, 2017, in the Intensive Care Unit of the Kalinga Provincial Hospital. He was 74.

Aggalao was a guerrilla of the New People’s Army in Kalinga who went by the nom de guerre “Ka Munro.” He retired in 2012 because of old age and returned to civilian life.

Already suffering hypertension and ulcers, Aggalao was arrested by troops of the Army’s 50th Infantry Battalion on September 11, 2016 in Balbalan town, even as unilateral ceasefires declared by the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines were in effect.

Charged with murder and frustrated murder charges were filed against him before a trial court in Kalinga and he was detained at the provincial jail.

On July 7 this year, he was rushed to the provincial hospital after suffering a stroke that paralyzed half his body.

Despite his condition, he was returned to jail.

In August, now also suffering from dementia Aggalao was again rushed to the hospital after suffering a third stroke.

Although relatives managed to raise bail money, he remained detained because of other charges filed against him before a court in Baguio City.

On August 29, the Kalinga ourt dismissed the charges against Aggalao before it.

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance said Aggalao began to weaken and was having difficulty breathing Tuesday morning, prompting hospital staff to manually pump oxygen into him.

Aggalao is the second political prisoner to die in detention under President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the human rights group Karapatan.

In November 2016, peasant organizer Bernabe Ocasla, 66, who was detained at the Manila City Jail, died after a heart attack sent him into a coma.

Karapatan said there were 430 political prisoners as of August 31, 85 of them arrested under Duterte, who has called off peace talks with communist rebels.