Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Harassment of Morong detainees continues, immediate transfer to Camp Crame urged

AFP threats to produce 5 more coerced witnesses.

On the 4th day of fasting, relatives, fellow health advocates, and other groups supporting the cause to release Morong 43 gathered once more today at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani to call for freedom and justice for the 43 detained health workers.

However, kin of the detainees who visit Camp Capinpin daily revealed that in the last few days, detention guards and other camp officials have been threatening the detained health workers that they are out to get 5 more detainees to turn to their side.

This verbal threat and persistent harassment of detained health workers could only mean continued physical and psychological torture, just like what the AFP earlier did to detainees John Mark Barrientos, Valentino Paulino, Jennelyn Pizzaro, Cherelyn Tawagon, and Ellen Carandang who admitted, under duress, that they are armed rebels.

Dr. Julie Caguiat expressed concern for the 5 forced witnesses of the military, though physically mobile inside the camp, they remain in a virtual prison with the military's control on them. The doctor shared that since the 5 detainees were separated from the other health workers, legal counsels from the Public Interest Law Center and National Union of People's Lawyers were not allowed to see them anymore.

The AFP is now employing every dirty tactic up its sleeves to obtain forced and false witnesses to incriminate the illegally arrested health workers' said Dr. Julie Caguiat, spokesperson of the FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS NOW ALLIANCE.

Threatening the detainees, obtaining witnesses and false testimonies under duress is certainly not a protocol, harassment is still a crime.

The group reiterated its call for the transfer of the Morong 43 to Camp Crame saying their colleagues are never safe in the hands of the military who have since grievously violated the health workers' rights.

Dr. Caguiat also pointed out that since Camp Crame has already settled to a certain extent its' logistical or space problems with the transfer of Maguindanao massacre suspects, the Philippine National Police no longer has any conceivable reason or excuse not to heed to the earlier released court order of the Morong Regional Trial Court.

"If there is any gesture that the PNP can do to prove that it is not as guilty as the AFP in the case of the Morong 43, it should begin by following the courts and taking the health workers into their custody now,"Caguiat reiterated.

The detained health workers, relatives, and supporters began their fasting last week, April 17, to express their rage and indignation on the unlawful arrests, detention, and continued harassment. The fasting will continue until the health workers are transferred to Camp Crame. The fasting centre is at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City and is open to those who support the plight of the 43 health workers and fight for the defense of human rights.###

Julie Caguiat
Celphone Number: 0909 113 3038

Philip Paraan
Media Officer
Celphone Number: 0919 486 1580

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