Posted to InterAksyon (Apr 24): OPEN LETTER | Longest held political prisoner appeals to Obama
NOTE: On April 21, 1989, US Army Colonel James Rowe, who was with the Joint US Military Advisory Group or JUSMAG, was killed by New People’s Army assassins. Soon after, in that same year, Juanito Itaas was arrested and charged with Rowe’s murder, a crime he insists he is innocent of. He has been in jail since then, a total of 25 years now, and is the longest serving political prisoner in the country. Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country, he has written a letter to the American leader.
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear President Obama:
I write this letter to appeal for your urgent and personal intervention in the spirit of respect for human dignity as it is understood all over the world.
This is in connection with my petition for release from prison addressed to the Philippine government regarding the killing of US Army Col. James Rowe happened in April 1989, Quezon City, Philippines.
I am Juanito T. Itaas, arrested, charged, prosecuted and convicted in relation to the death of Col. James Rowe. I am now serving sentence at the national penitentiary here in the Philippines for more than two decades already.
Indeed, I sympathize to the family and loved ones of Col. James Rowe, to the American people and others who were offended, violated and deeply hurt by the transgressions and inappropriate actions. Like them I suffer the same agony of being separated from my loved ones. I have suffered more than enough.
As an advocate of peace and reconciliation among nations, Mr. President, I implore your Christian sense of mercy and compassion as you certainly believe in second chances. Your considerate action to my plea is a key factor for the realization of my renewed life as a law-abiding citizen and as a God-fearing person.
Right now, the most cherished and persistent wish I have is to be a full-time father to my son and two daughters who were conceived during conjugal visits at the New Bilibid Prison. My children never experienced what a normal and happy family life is all about. Additionally, I firmly believe in one of your guiding principles as a leader and as a family man.
A strong nation is made up of strong families. Every family deserves the chance to make a better future for themselves and their children. I know that strong families will always be front and center of your agenda, Mr. President.
Being a good and responsible father to your two lovely daughters, here I am, a father also who desires to provide, inspire and support my children with the help of my wife; and by doing so I can be an instrument to have a strong family despite a life-threatening illness that affects my health. This is now my only goal and motivation in life. By God's grace, your valuable help and crucial intervention will help me succeed in this humble aspiration.
Given the present situation, I appeal once more and with great sense of benevolence, Mr. President, to consider a favorable humanitarian action regarding my condition.
God bless you mightily!
Juanito T. Itaas