Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rights group bringing ‘Morong 43’ case to US

By MARVYN N. BENANING
Manila Bulletin (www.mb.com.ph)


A delegation of human rights advocates will bring the case of Morong 43 to the United States and other countries to drum up support and hopefully win the release of the detained health workers.

Marie Enriquez, secretary-general of Karapatan, a human rights watchdog, said relatives and friends of the Morong 43 have decided to internationalize the issue, claiming it has gained the attention of medical and health groups in Europe and Asia.

Enriquez told the Manila Bulletin over the weekend that members of Morong 43 were finally transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan after a prolonged dispute between the military and the Philippine National Police (PNP), which insisted that it had nothing to do with the arrest of the health workers in Morong, Rizal last February 6.

The supporters of the Morong 43 alleged the health workers were slapped with trumped-up charges but the Court of Appeals (CA) and eventually the Supreme Court (SC) argued that since criminal charges had been filed, the case would have to proceed.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), however, claimed that the human rights of the accused were violated, and that they were not given their right to counsel, denied medical assistance and allegedly subjected to torture and psychological trauma.

CHR itself was denied the right to visit the Morong 43 the day after the health workers were arrested for being alleged members of the New People's Army undertaking training in the manufacture of bombs during a live-in seminar on community-based health care.

Enriquez said the delegation will fly to the US in early June to seek support for the detained health workers. She added that a press briefing will be held later this week to tackle the mission of the human rights advocates, who had on support from a Hong Kong-based regional human rights watchdog.

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