A PRIEST imprisoned without trial for more than five years in the Philippines has been released thanks to international pressure, including efforts by Leeds Justice and Peace Commission.
Fr Edicio de la Torre. a Divine Word father, was released on Friday after 5 years 4 months and 5 days in gaol on a charge of subversion that never came to trial. He had been working with the poor before his imprisonment.
The Leeds Justice and Peace Commission joined with groups of Catholics in the United States, Holland and Hong Kong in calling for his release. They collected more than 1,000 letters in his support. Many Herald readers wrote to Filipino authorites after an appeal in February.
During his time in Camp Diwa, Fr de la Torre regularly celebrated Mass for his fellowprisoners. Now that he is free, ne 1.‘,ould like to continue his work in the Philippines, but there are fears that he may be forced into exile.
Fr Jim O'Keefe of Ushaw College met Fr de la Torre last summer by chance when he had been let out of prison for a day on his birthday. He has been active in the campaign for him and said this week: "I think with some evidence that pressure has been successful. The Philippine government tends to act when it sees its reputation tarnished."
Fr de la Torre was aware that he was a well-known figure, but that there were thousands who had no voice. Information anout prisoners of conscience in the Philippines may be had from: Task Force Detainees, 214n Domingo Street, San Juan, Manila, Philippines.