Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lawyer bares sexual harassment of ‘Morong 43’ women

NIKKA CORSINO, GMANews.TV

The female members of the so-called Morong 43 had been subjected to sexual threats by their military captors, according to their lawyer.

“Accounts reveal that they are being subjected to sexual threats and physical touching of a sexual nature during interrogations," lawyer Evelyn Ursua said in a phone interview with GMANews.TV on Wednesday.

Morong 43 refers to the 43 health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal last February 6 on suspicions that they are members and supporters of communist guerrillas.

According to Ursua, women detainees were subjected to verbal threats such as “Anong magagawa mo kung ire-rape kita ngayon (What will you do if I rape you)" and “Gusto mo ba kung huhubaran ka namin at paliguan ka (Do you want us to bathe you naked)."

The military, on the other hand, dismissed this as propaganda.

“All these are propaganda. The military is not foolish to do such things seeing. It is a policy of the military to uphold human rights," said Armed Forces public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. said in a separate phone interview.

Ursua said the 43 detained workers must be immediately transferred to a civilian facility instead of being detained in the military facility where she said they are continuously interrogated.

“They are being subjected to continuous interrogation, the latest of which was yesterday [Tuesday]. This is a clear violation of our law, because no interrogation must be allowed without a legal counsel," she said.

Ursua was among those permitted to talk to the detainees, who are detained in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. The others were Alnie Foja, Dr. Hazel Soriano, and Senators Loren Legarda and Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby" Madrigal.

Brawner said they are open to the transfer of the detainees to a provincial jail, but he claimed that the detainees themselves do not want to.

“We are open to the possibility of transferring them to a provincial jail, but it is [they] who do not want to be transferred because conditions here [Camp Capinpin] are better than in provincial jails," he said. - KBK, GMANews.TV

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