COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS
10 April 2010
The Commission on Human Rights decries the continued detention in a military camp of the group known as the “Morong 43”, and called for the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forced of the Philippines to effectively work together to effect their immediate transfer to civilian facilities.
CHR Chairperson Leila de Lima said that the lack of coordination that reportedly blocked the recent attempt of the AFP to transfer the group from the Army’s Camp Capinpin in Rizal province to the PNP’s main facility, Camp Crame, was “far short of the obligations demanded by law from both the AFP and the PNP in terms of criminal procedure and human rights respect.”
De Lima further said: “These two institutions are demonstrating a serious deficiency of coordination, as eloquently demonstrated by the delivery of 38 of the Morong 43 to Camp Crame, only to have them promptly rejected by the PNP and returned to the military facility of Camp Capinpin. Excuses have been given by both institutions for this failed hand over, and attempts are being made by each party to evade responsibility, but at the end of the day the sad fact is that it is the detainees who will continue to suffer. It is their rights which will continue to be placed in jeopardy, as they remain locked up in a military camp, instead of a civilian detention facility.”
“We have noticed that the PNP and AFP have each been passing responsibility, not just for the detention, but also for all operations concerning the Morong 43, on to the other,” added Chair de Lima. “With both institutions singing different tunes, we are perplexed as to which one of them is really behind this entire muddle.”
Criminal charges for illegal possession of firearms had already been filed against the detainees who were arrested on February 6 in Morong, Rizal during a raid thereat. “Without yet declaring the existence of human rights violations, including the alleged illegal detention, which are the subjects of the ongoing CHR inquiry, it can still be said that the filing of criminal information firmly placed the suspects within the jurisdiction of the civilian criminal justice system,” said de Lima, “meaning, that the proper place for their detention is in a civilian facility.”
There is no legal basis for their continued detention in a military camp, nor is there legal basis for the PNP to refuse to take them into custody. “In fact, the law requires the PNP to take them into custody,” said the CHR Chief. “It’s not optional for the PNP to say they can take suspects in or not. The PNP has the duty to receive these detainees, and if it must make temporary arrangements while working on more permanent accommodations, then it must do so.”
“Is the PNP saying that it does not have the room or the manpower to ensure the proper detention of a few dozen suspects who have not proven to be violent?” asked the CHR Chairperson. “If so, then the top government leaders must ensure that the necessary resources should be immediately mobilized so that law enforcers can do their jobs effectively.”
The CHR had already publicly called for the transfer to civilian facilities during its public inquiry into the case of the so-called Morong 43 on March 18. Another session of the public inquiry is scheduled for this coming Monday, 12 April, at the CHR in Quezon City.
“May I remind the AFP or PNP custodians, as the case may be, to comply, under pain of contempt, with our standing directive to produce the detainees during our public inquiry on Monday, ” said the CHR Chair.
In February 6, 2010, 43 health workers conducting a medical training in Morong, Rizal were arrested and accused of being members of the communist New People's Army. They suffered physical and psychological torture while in military custody.
"43" is a short documentary on the plight of the arrested health workers. It uses shadowplay to dramatize their experience in the hands of their captors.
a film by Southern Tagalog Exposure and Anino Shadowplay Collective
Featuring the voices of Joel Lamangan, Bibeth Orteza, Soliman Cruz and Bobby Balingit