Monday, August 2, 2010

Office of the General Assembly
Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk

22 July 2010

H.E. Benigno S.C. Aquino III
Office of the President
Malacañang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila

Dear President Aquino,

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been engaged in ministry with the people of the Philippines for over one hundred years. While our concern extends to all of the people of the country, we have a particularly close relationship to our sisters and brothers in Christ in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

On behalf of more than two million Presbyterians, I join our Filipino sisters and brothers in an appeal for the release of Ms. Judilyn Oliveros on humanitarian grounds. Our partners have informed us that Judilyn was a victim of illegal arrest on February 6, 2010 as one of 43 health workers who were detained by the Armed Forces in the Philippines in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. They are now detained in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig while they await the decision of the Supreme Court on the Habeas Corpus case that was filed shortly after their disappearance.

Judilyn was pregnant when arrested and recently gave birth. I appeal to you to release her immediately so that she can properly care for herself and her baby. She gave birth by Cesarean section in a hospital and under guard. The presence of the guards creates a less than ideal situation for Judilyn and her baby. In addition, she needs to bond with her son and to heal from the birthing; the Bagong Diwa jail is not an appropriate place nor does it have appropriate conditions for this to occur. I urge you to make a priority of the release of Judilyn Oliveros.

Our partners have heard the details of the case filed against Judilyn and the other so-called ‘Morong 43’ members and are convinced that the charges are trumped up and that the Morong 43 are indeed political prisoners. With our partners, I appeal for the release of each and every member of the group. Ms. Mercedes (Mercy) Castro is also pregnant and should be released. Ms. Jane Balleta suffers epileptic attacks due to the conditions in the jail. However, I cannot understate that Judilyn Oliveros faces an extreme situation and appeal that you will take steps to release her as soon as possible.

The Christian Women’s Association-United Metropolis Conference, United Church of Christ in the Philippines has decided that the care of Judilyn and Mercy will be a special ministry. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will provide prayer and financial support as they do. Judilyn, Mercy and the other members of the Morong 43 should be thanked for their willingness to serve as health workers, but instead they have been jailed. I pray that you will show mercy to these men and women who are suffering for their willingness to care for others. Judilyn Oliveros now urgently needs to care for her new son. I join those who appeal for her immediate release.

Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

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Justice for the 43!