Ferdinand Castillo, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Metro Manila campaign officer arrested on February 12 by combined elements of the police and military, was transferred to the Special Intensive Care Area 1 (SICA 1) in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig on March 24. Castillo, charged for double murder and multiple murder arising from an encounter of the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the New People’s Army in 2014, was previously detained in the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) detention center inside Camp Crame in Quezon City.
He was confined in an isolation room in SICA 1 from his arrival until today. The inmates refer to the isolation room as “bartolina.”
Castillo’s colleagues from Bayan Metro Manila called the SICA 1 jail administration several times since Friday to demand that Castillo be released from the isolation room and transferred to a regular cell due his heart conditions. SICA 1 officers who took the calls said that a court order has to be obtained before they would accede to the request.
Other political prisoners in SICA 1 sent letters to the warden also requesting Castillo’s transfer, but these were also rejected according to Castillo’s statement on his detention in the isolation room.
Castillo’s wife, lactation expert Nona Andaya-Castillo, called the attention of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. Government of the Philippines (GRP) peace panel chair Silvestre Bello III was said to have given verbal notice to transfer Castillo to a hospital.
Castillo was finally transferred to the fourth floor of the facility where other political prisoners are detained, late afternoon of March 30.
Here is his statement:
Ferdinand Castillo’s Statement on his Solitary Confinement in a Bartolina (Dungeon)
Today, March 30, would be my seventh day of virtual confinement in a prison cell in Special Intensive Care Area 1 (SICA 1) in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, which the inmates here call “the bartolina”. It is not like the solitary confinement experienced by imprisoned comrades during Martial Law nor is it the usual stinking and dark cell. The prison cell is no different from the others here in SICA 1 except that it has two-layer doors of steel bars. My co-detainees who arrived a day earlier found a stinking and dirty prison cell so they have to thorough clean it up.
My co-detainees are three Muslim brothers and three Chinese nationals (all are arrested on drug related cases) are denied our visiting rights from family and friends for a week. Only our lawyers are allowed to visit. My friends visited me last March 27, but they were denied access and some things intended for me were not allowed entry. We were separated from our supposed grouping. I should be at the fourth floor right wing with other political detainees. Our movement is limited inside the cell, unlike the other prisoners who are allowed visits, could use the gym, basketball court and other facilities. There are double-decked beds inside the cell. I sleep on the floor since the beds are occupied already.
My comrades [other political prisoners] at the fourth floor has sent several letters to the warden to request my transfer for health reasons, but these are rejected.
At the moment, my blood pressure elevated since my first day (150/90), was 150/100 today. I brought this complaint to the infirmary already, but all they could do is to measure my blood pressure and ask if I am taking maintenance medicine. I have headaches and there are swellings on the right side of my neck. I have chest pains for couple of days. There are occasional heaviness and numbness on my left arm. I suspect these might be symptoms of a Transient Ischemic Attack or mini stroke. I have experienced this in the past and might need emergency medical help.
My daughter and friends are expected to visit me tomorrow, but they might be denied access. My transfer at the fourth floor right wing remain uncertain. My rights as political prisoner were violated. May I request therefore, my colleagues and friends to send letters of concern to the management of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), the Department of Justice and OPAPP (Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process). I and my comrades at the fourth floor took this up separately with the ICRC (International Committee on the Red Cross) people who visited SICA 1 earlier this day.
My immediate concerns are the following:
- That I should be transferred as soon as possible to the fourth floor right wing to be with the other political prisoners
- That I be allowed visits from my family, relatives and friends
- That I may avail of the services of a doctor, preferably cardiologist, who is willing to go to SICA 1 to diagnose me and that he/she be assisted also by my family and friends and,
- That this “one week bartolina” policy for incoming detainees be reviewed by the higher authorities
SICA 1, Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City