Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sidebar: Three Months Not Enough for Nursing Mom, Newborn


MANILA–Breastfeeding advocates and children’s rights NGOs found the court decision allowing the hospital detention of Morong 43 mother and her newborn to be wanting.

Carina Judilyn Oliveros, one of the 43 health workers arrested on Feb. 6 in Morong, Rizal, gave birth by cesarean section to her first child on July 22 at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

In a decision issued August 25, the Morong court ruled that mother and baby be allowed to stay at the Philippine General Hospital for three months so that the mother could breastfeed her child. After three months, the court ordered that Oliveros be sent back to jail at Camp Bagong Diwa.

August has been declared as Breastfeeding Awareness Month by Republic Act 10028 or the “Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009.” “It should be a celebration for breastfeeding mothers but not for Carina “Judilyn” Oliveros who is living in fear and anxiousness before the court has reached its decision,” the Association for the Rights of Children in South East Asia (Arcsea) said in a statement.

“The lower court’s decision is a positive development on Judilyn and her son’s case. But on the other hand, the three month period for breast feeding is still not enough. It is highly recommended that the mother should breastfeed her child for a minimum of six months. Furthermore, the nursing mother and the infant should be in a stress-free environment while providing postnatal care,” said Madella Santiago, Arcsea executive director.

Ironically, the recent court order even quotes the letter of Oliveros’s doctor stating that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months. “To ensure milk production by the mother, the baby has to constantly feed from her breasts. It is also important that the mother is stress-free and be housed in a comfortable place. It is in this light that this certification is made so that the mother-baby bonding is established by keeping them together in a place which stimulates a home environment,” the decision read.

In another interview, Nona Andaya-Castillo, one of the only five International Board Certified Lactation Consultants in the Philippines, said the PGH is hardly an environment suitable for breastfeeding. “Yes, it is a lot better [than the jail] but it is still not a comfortable place,” Castillo said.

“There are many pathogens [germs that cause diseases] there…We’re putting the child and even the mother at high risk.” Castillo said.

A church-run shelter home is best, Castillo said, who also manages The Breastfeeding Clinic.

Castillo’s group sent a letter of appeal to President Benigno S. Aquino III for the release of Oliveros and Mercy Castro, another pregnant detainee who will give birth this October. “We support the call of Karapatan and other human rights groups to house these mothers and their children in a church shelter home under the custody of Bishop Reuel Marigza,” they said in a letter dated Aug. 24.

“There can be no substitute for the nutritional benefits and the bond between mother and child which can be developed during breastfeeding,” Santiago said, noting that the mother and child will be separated after three months.

“Although the court’s decision is a positive development, we are still hoping that newborn infants like Baby Boy Oliveros and Mercy Castro’s child could attain their right to proper nutrition and would not be separated from their mothers,” Santiago said.

Not Really Humane

“Judilyn Oliveros should be allowed to care for her baby outside a detention facility. In the first place, the Morong 43 should not stay in jail any longer,” the Kilusang Mayo Uno said in a separate statement.

“Preventing a mother from nursing her newborn baby outside a detention facility is clearly inhumane. But allowing her to do that for only three months doesn’t go that far in being humane. She should be allowed to stay at the hospital longer, or better still, at home,” said Lito Ustarez, KMU executive vice-chairperson.

Ustarez added that the Morong 43 should be freed immediately.

The group also criticized President Benigno Aquino III for “playing deaf” to the calls for the immediate release of the 43 health workers and other political detainees.

Read Source Article

Friday, August 27, 2010

Alliance to jail officials: Implement court order now, transfer Morong 43 mom and baby to PGH

Free the 43 Health Workers! Alliance today expressed disappointment over the delayed transfer of Carina “Judilyn” Oliveros and her baby to the Philippine General Hospital despite very clear court orders issued by Judge Gina Cenit-Escoto on August 25 granting Oliveros’ plea to continue breastfeeding her newborn outside the prison complex.

“Despite the August 25 court order and the jail warden’s personal knowledge of the decision, jail officials are delaying the transfer of Judilyn and her son citing reasons that are plainly unacceptable,” Carlos Montemayor, spokesperson of the alliance said.

Every hour that the mother and baby spend inside the jail is a risk to the latter’s health and welfare. The baby’s stay with his mother inside detention is also tantamount to his unjust incarceration, Montemayor added.

“Jail officials should transfer Judilyn and her baby now lest they be cited with contempt by the Morong 43’s legal counsels,” said Montemayor.

The group finally said that these inactions of the BJMP are part of the ensuing human rights violations under the present government against the Morong 43. They call that the 43 health workers and all political prisoners be released.##

Carlos Montemayor, RN
Mobile Number: 0922 499 6237

Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights -- Follow Up Oliveros & Castro

Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights
13 Dao Street, Project 3, Barangay Quirino 3-A
Quezon City, 1102, Philippines

Secretary Atty. Leila de Lima
Department of Justice
Padre Faura Street Ermita, Manila

August 27th 2010

Dear Secretary de Lima,

On behalf of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights, we are writing to follow up on our letter sent to your office on June 30th which called for the unconditional humanitarian release of two expectant mothers and community health care workers incarcerated in Camp Bagong Diwa.

We are encouraged to hear that twenty-six year old Judilyn Oliveros has been granted a stay of three months with her new born in the Philippine General Hospital, but continue to be alarmed about the continued detainment of twenty-seven year old Mercy Castro—who expects to give birth in October—and forty-one other health care workers who are all being held under cramped, unsanitary conditions and high security surveillance in this jail. We are also aware of the prospect that Oliveros may be again incarcerated after three months. We remain concerned about the violations of all of their rights, including to their health and well-being, but trust that your office will be proactive to ensure that that Castro will not be forced to give birth in jail, and that her infant will not be subjected to unjust incarceration either.

The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), along with our members around the world—many of whom are community health care providers and/or health advocates—continue to urge the new administration of the Philippines to uphold and genuinely commit to the principles of justice and human rights frameworks by:
  • Taking concrete steps to uphold the binding international obligations made by the Philippine government under the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, Beijing Platform for Action, Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
  • Affirming the reproductive health rights of Mercy Castro by granting an unconditional release prior to October, opening the opportunities for her to access pre-and post-natal health care, as well as counselling, family support, and decent, dignified living conditions.
  • Affirming the reproductive health rights of Judilyn Oliveros and the health of her infant by reviewing her case and granting her release, so that she will not face the prospect of returning to Metro Manila's high security jail.
  • Reviewing the cases of all of the forty-three detained health workers, retracting the charges against them, and releasing all of them unconditionally.

We trust the urgency of the situation will compel you and other responsible ministers in the Aquino administration to act immediately. Please feel free to contact the WGNRR campaigns officer, Tanya Roberts-Davis, by email or phone 913 6708, with questions you may have. We await your response to the concerns expressed herein and in the letter dated June 30. Thank you.


Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights
Cc: Commission on Human Rights; Karapatan; Health Alliance for Democracy; Health Action Information Network

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Court grants Judilyn Oliveros' plea to breastfeed child outside jail

Free the 43 Health Workers! Alliance today announced that the lower court has finally granted Carina Judilyn Oliveros' plea to breastfeed her month-old son outside Camp Bagong Diwa.

In a decision issued yesterday, Presiding Judge Gina F. Cenit-Escoto of the Morong Regional Trial Court Branch 78 ruled that mother and baby be allowed to stay at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) on the basis filed by Oliveros' legal counsels stating that allowing accused to breastfeed her infant in PGH would substantially serve the purpose of their original Motion for Release on Recognizance for Humanitarian Reasons. The order further stated that the grant of the instant motion would result to avoidance of any harm and danger that the child may suffer while in Camp Bagong Diwa, including the unjust incarceration of the said child in a detention facility.

Oliveros will be allowed to stay in Philippine General Hospital for a period of three (3) months. This is a positive development for Judilyn's plea and the case of the Morong 43 as a whole, Carlos Montemayor, spokesperson of the alliance said.Montemayor added that though they are disappointed that the court did not grant Oliveros plea for a 6-month period to stay at the PGH, they are still relieved that Judge Cenit-Escoto ruled in favor of Oliveros and her baby.

This welcome development is clearly the result of the unwavering perseverance of the detainees, their families and supporters to further the call to free the Morong 43. We also hope that Mercy Castro, one of the 43 detained health workers, due to give birth on October, would not have to suffer the ordeal that Judilyn and her baby experienced. We continue to challenge President Noynoy Aquino to prove that he is sincere in upholding justice and democracy by releasing the Morong 43 and all political prisoners in the country, Montemayor concluded.##

Related News:

Carlos Montemayor, RN

Cellphone Number: 0922 499 6237

Letter to DOJ Secretary De Lima re-Morong 43

August 26, 2010
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura Street Ermita,
Manila, Philippines
Fax No. (632)526-7643,
Dear Secretary de Lima,

We, the members of the Stop the Killings (in the Philippines) Network– Canada, welcome the news that a lower court ruled yesterday to allow political detainee, Judilyn Oliveros and her infant child, to stay at the Philippine General Hospital for three months.

This is a positive development, even though a hospital is not an ideal place for the nursing mother and the baby to stay. However, our utmost concern is still the return to prison of both mother and child after the 3-month period. We maintain that the harsh conditions in prison, where 23 female inmates are jam-packed in a small cell, are unsafe and unfit for both mother and child. The tensions attendant to prison life and the prison conditions will greatly impact on the mother’s capacity to care for her child as well as the healthy growth of the baby. Likewise, it will be inhuman and a violation of Judilyn and her baby’s rights should they be separated when Judilyn is returned to prison.

We are urging President Benigno Aquino III and you, Madame Secretary, to order the release of Judilyn not only on humanitarian grounds, but also on our belief that she and the 42 other health workers (Morong 43) are victims of arbitrary arrest and detention. Having courageously facilitated the family visits of the Morong 43 and conducted the hearings on the circumstances of their arrest, when you were the Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, we are confident that you have a full understanding of their case and condition – that they were arrested under a defective warrant while undergoing community health training, subjected to physical and psychological torture, and were denied counsel.

We are gravely concerned about the condition of the 42 other detained health workers (Morong 43) who have gone on a protest fast since August 21 in order to draw attention and action from the President to the continuing violation of their human rights and the denial of the rule of law on their case.

We, therefore, call on President Aquino and you, Madame Secretary, to do the right thing and release Judilyn, her infant child and all the Morong 43 detainees.

We are confident that, as the son of the most prominent political detainee and victim of extrajudicial killing during the Marcos dictatorship, President Aquino understands very deeply the anguish and sense of injustice that the Morong 43 and their families have experienced for the past seven months.

We urge the President to follow after her mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, to release all political prisoners.

Bern Jagunos
(On behalf of The Members of the Stop the Killings Network – Canada)
The United Church of Canada
Contact: Bern Jagunos
3250 Bloor St. West, Suite 300
Toronto, Ontario M8X 2Y4
Canada-Philippines for Human Rights in the Philippines (CPSHR)
Contact: Beth Dollaga
Centre for Philippine Concerns
Contact: Malcolm Guy
6420 Victoria Avenue Suite #9
Montreal, Quebec H3W 2S7
KAIROS-Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Contact: Connie Sorio
129 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, Ontario M4V 1N5
Ottawa Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Contact: Doug Booker
Development and Peace
Contact: Genevieve Talbot
5633, rue Sherbrooke Est, Montréal, Quebec H1N 1A3
Email :
PINAY (Filipino Women's Organization in Quebec)
Contact: Tess Agustin
Address: 7595 rue Centrale,Lasalle, Quebec H8P 1K8
Philippine Solidarity Group - Toronto
Contact: Rick Esguerra
Email :
Migrante- Canada
Contact: Marco Luciano
Tel: 647-205-5908
Dominique Caouette
Fellow of the Canada Chair on Asian Research
Department of Political Science, U. of Montreal.
C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Qc. H3C 3J7
Victoria Group
Contact: Glenys Verhulst
1118 Balmoral Road, Victoria, BC V8T 1B1
Email :
MiningWatch Canada
Contact: Catherine Coumans, Ph.D.
250 City Centre Ave., Ottawa, ON
Canadian Union of Public Employees
Local 4600
Contact: Priscillia Lefebvre
Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund
Contact: Mahjabeen Chowdhury
80 Hayden Street, Toronto, ON M4Y 3G2
Beaconsfield United Church
Contact: Rev. Shaun Fryday
202 Roadside Rd., Beaconsfield, QC
cc: President Benigno C. Aquino III

Peace Process Adviser, Sec.Teresita Quintos-Deles

DND Sec. Voltaire T. Gazmin

CHR Chair Loretta Ann Rosales

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon

Ambassador Christopher Thornley

Liberal Party Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae

BQ Foreign Affairs Critic, Mme. Francine Lalonde

NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, Mr. Paul Dewar

Monday, August 23, 2010

Press Statement by the Morong 43 detainees from Camp Bagong Diwa

We, the 43 health workers (Morong 43), are on a protest fast since August 21. We denounce the continuing gross violation of our human rights and the denial of the rule of law on our case. We protest the inhumane and unjust decision of the lower court to bring Judilyn Oliveros and her baby back to prison.

We were arrested last February 6 2010 while undergoing community health training. The arrest was based on a defective warrant. In detention, we were subjected to physical and psychological torture while kept blindfolded and handcuffed in the hands of the military. We had experienced prolonged torture and solitary confinement. We were denied counsel during our arrest and after 36 hours of torture. We are languishing in jail for seven months now.

Recently, the lower court denied the motion for release on recognizance for Judilyn and her baby. The decision of the lower court is utterly inhumane. Prison conditions for a baby and mother are very harsh. Aside from 23 female inmates jampacked in one detention cell, all kinds of infectious diseases including tuberculosis are afflicting us like plague. Big rats have already bitten some inmates.

We demand the immediate release of Judilyn and her baby. We ask Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III to emulate his mother, the late Pres. Corazon Aquino, to release all political prisoners as a democratic and goodwill measure.

Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes

Mobile Number: 0920 460 3712

Carlos Montemayor, RN
Mobile Number: 0922 499 6237

For the Free the 43 Health Workers! Alliance

On the Inhumane Justice Based on the Illegal Arrest and Detention of the 43 Community Health Workers

An Open Letter to President Benigno C. Aquino III

We are the 43 accused community health workers also known as the Morong 43. We were conducting a week long First Responders Training Program co-sponsored by two non-government organizations, the Community Medicine Foundation Incorporated (COMMED) and the Council for Health and Development (CHD), at the training venue of Dr. Melicia Velmonte. Among us are two medical doctors, a registered nurse, two midwives, two health educators and 36 volunteer community health workers. This training was an offshoot of the two NGO’s participation in medical and relief mission during the calamity brought by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

At 6am of February 6, some 300 military men in full battle gear composed of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Rizal Provincial Police raided the venue. They blindfolded and handcuffed most of us and brought us to Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal without even showing a search or arrest warrant, nor did they wait for our lawyers. There our ordeal began and violations of our human rights continued.

We were illegally arrested based on a defective warrant. We only came to know during our first appearance that a search warrant was issued under the name of a certain Mario Condes who was unknown to the owner of the venue and their neighborhood.

We were not informed of the case charged against us by the military until after 36 hours of torture. Worse, we were denied access to legal counsel while State Prosecutor Senson in the presence of the military charged us of illegal possession of fire arms and explosives. It was only on February 11, five days after our arrest did they file the charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives at the RTC Branch 78, Morong Rizal, which was a clear violation of our rights as accused.

We had been tortured psychologically and physically in the hands of the military in Camp Capinpin. We also experienced sexualized torture by the military guards by pulling down our pants and underwear when we go to the toilet. We had been kept under solitary confinement and prolonged torture.

Last March, five of our companions were forcibly taken out from their detention cells. They were threatened and cajoled offers of freedom, cash, house and lot if they cooperate with the military to be state witnesses against us. We are now on our seventh month of illegal detention with no speedy and impartial action on our filing of the writ of habeas corpus since April 2010.

In our prolonged detention, one of our pregnant companions gave birth to a baby boy. Judilyn Oliveros and her baby were brought back to prison on the basis of a denied motion for her release recognizance (for humanitarian grounds) at the RTC Branch 78 in Morong. Mercy Castro, the other pregnant detainee was not brought out for check up last July 13 or 14 even on the basis of a court order granting her check up.

We are innocent of the charges filed against us. We believe and condemn the continuing injustice and gross violation of our human rights by prolonging our detention. We are victims of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s abuse of power and her desperate egoistic drive to boost her declining credibility and power.

We strongly condemn the inhumane and unjust decision done to Judilyn by bringing her and her baby back to prison. Prison is a harsh place and unjust for a baby to get nourishment from her mother. Fever, cold, cough, and influenza and risks of being infected with tuberculosis is a continuous threat at the detention, aside from being jampacked in one cell. Big rats had bitten some of the female detainees here.

Consistent with your call for the respect for human rights, we appeal to President Benigno Aquino III for a just, humane and speedy action by releasing us unconditionally. We believe that the president understands how a violation of human rights victim feels since he and his family were witnessesn andvictims to what happened to his father by the fascist Marcos rule. We also understand how the late former President Cory Aquino had released political prisoners in the first year of her term.

Release the Morong 43!
Release all prolitical prisoners!

Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor (detainee)
For the Morong 43

Friday, August 20, 2010


Senator Loren Legarda today appealed for Judicial Humanitarianism and called on the Judicial authorities to allow a nursing mother Judilyn Oliveros to be with her new born baby and enjoy rooming-in facilities in a hospital.

Judilyn Oliveros was one of the health workers dubbed as “Morong 43” who were charged in Court and suspected to be linked with communist rebels. Judilyn gave birth to a baby boy. In a recent report, the court denied her motion, despite lack of opposition from the prosecutors, to stay in a hospital with her baby boy, thus, was poised to be transferred back to Camp Bagong Diwa for her continued detention.

In appealing for Judicial Humanitarianism, Loren cited Republic Act No. 7600 "The Rooming-In and Breast-Feeding Act of 1992" as amended by Republic Act No. 10028 the "Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009" which established the State policy and right of a mother the practice of breastfeeding her new-born child. The law provides mother and child to enjoy an environment where basic physical, emotional, and psychological needs of mothers and infants are fulfilled through the practice of rooming-in and breastfeeding. Said Loren, “these rights cannot be available inside a jail facility where conditions are bad, ventilation and sanitation is poor and there are reports about the spread of tuberculosis among inmates”.

Loren continues to champion women’s and children’s rights and has authored and co-authored several bills enacted into law in pursuit of such advocacy. Among these were the Magna Carta for Women, the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 2009, theAnti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, the Anti-Child Labor Law.

Pamsy Tioseco

Mobile #: 0928-5046017

To P-Noy : Learn from personal and collective history—FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ALLIANCE

A day before the death anniversary of former senator Benigno Aquino, relatives and friends of the Morong 43 and members of the FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ALLIANCE light candles at the Ninoy Aquino Monument in Timog cor. Quezon Avenue (Delta) to call for the release of the Morong 43.

“This is an apt remembrance of the martyrdom of Ninoy and the heroism and sacrifice of many political activists who fought against Marcos’ repressive rule during the days of Martial Law. This is also an opportune moment to call for the release of the Morong 43 and to remind President Aquino of his responsibilities to uphold human rights,” said Carlos Montemayor, spokesperson of the FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ALLIANCE.

Montemayor said “President Aquino should learn from his family’s personal and the collective history of many other victims of human rights violations. Including Benigno Aquino, most of the victims then were targets of political witch hunt and was repeated in the case of Morong 43.“

Montemayor said that the President Aquino should be the first to know and understand political persecution and illegal detention as his father himself was also a victim. Being the son of the most prominent detainee of the Marcos regime, Montemayor said that the public expects from President Aquino to be more cognizant of the human rights abuses and to concretely address these issues. “

“There is moral victory in doing what is right and if he truly wants to remember his father’s heroism, he should defend and uphold human rights.”

The Morong 43 have been illegally detained since Feb. 6 and there has not been any sure prospects of release from the either the courts and from the agencies reviewing the case. Since assuming office, there has not been any direct pronouncement or commitment from President Aquino himself that he will push for the release of the Morong 43.

Meanwhile, the motion to release on recognizance on humanitarian grounds Judilyn Oliveros, the young mother among the Morong 43 was recently junked by the court. Oliveros and her 3-week old baby were returned to the unsafe confines of detention in Camp Bagong Diwa in August 19.

In the case of Oliveros’ plea to stay with her newborn, Montemayor recalled that even senator Ninoy Aquino himself was released under humanitarian reasons when he needed to undergo a heart surgery in the United States in 1980. Noting the very similar circumstances, it is only right that Oliveros be given that chance as well to take care of her baby.###

Carlos Montemayor, RN

Spokesperson, Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance
Mobile Number: 0909-1133038

Statement Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona on Judilyn Oliveros and Morong 43

I appeal for the immediate release of Carina “Judilyn” Oliveros for humanitarian reasons. She had just undergone Caesarian section delivery. She should be allowed to recover and take care of her newborn child outside of the confines of prison. Her petition for release on recognizance in order for her to breastfeed her child for at least six months should have been granted. Moreover, her transfer in handcuffs from the Philippine General Hospital to Camp Bagong Diwa is inhumane.

Another detainee, Ms. Mercedes (Mercy) Castro, will also soon give birth on October. I do not want the same thing to happen to her. I ask for the immediate resolution of the case and hope that all of the Morong 43 would be finally released.

Levin Marie Bayocot
Office of Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona III
direct line: (+632) 986 2001
mobile number: 0916 307 2657

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Visiting hours suspended today because of Morong 43 noise barrage

The noise barrage was staged by the women detainees around noon today to express their rage over the court’s denial of the motion to release on recognizance for humanitarian reasons for Carina “Judilyn” Oliveros and her baby.

Oliveros was brought back to Camp Bagong Diwa (CBD) yesterday around noon. Her 3-week old infant is staying with her inside a very cramped and damp cell. The cell, meant to house 9 inmates, was used to detain the 23 female health workers among the Morong 43.

“We are outraged of the prison official’s drastic and inhumane response to the female detainees’ peaceful expression of discontent. They did not violate any prison policy and thus do not deserve such maltreatment,” Carlos Montemayor, RN, spokesperson of the alliance said.

Montemayor expressed that in essence, CBD officials are punishing the Morong 43 detainees to suppress their rights to freedom of expression. “The prison official’s Pavlovian conditioning is used to further curtail the detainees’ political and civil rights,” Montemayor added.

The alliance asserts that the motion for release on recognizance must be reconsidered by the court based on humanitarian grounds. Meanwhile, the group calls for a safe and separate facility in CBD to allow Oliveros to breastfeed and take care of her infant.##

Carlos Montemayor, RN
Cellphone # : 0922 499 6237

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Group disappointed by court decision; outraged by the manner of taking back Judilyn Oliveros and child back to detention

The FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ALLIANCE was dismayed over the Morong Regional Trial Court’s decision to deny the motion to release under recognizance Judilyn Oliveros, one of the Morong 43 who recently gave birth.

Dated August 16, 2010, the decision penned by Judge Gina Cenat Escoto of Morong RTC Branch 78 directed the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to immediately return Oliveros to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan yesterday, Aug. 18 at around noontime.

Carlos Montemayor, spokesperson of the group said they were disappointed that the court failed to recognize the weight of their compelling reasons to bring Oliveros and her child together outside of detention. Meanwhile, they were outraged by the unjust manner how jail guards and escorts breached hospital protocols and served the court order.

Guarded with 15-20 guards mostly with long arms, Oliveros was forcibly taken out of the hospital. She was shackled on the way out of the PGH until she boarded the security vehicle and was only allowed to remove her handcuffs inside the said vehicle to hold her child.

“We are disappointed that the rights of mother and child were subverted when they were brought back to Camp Bagong Diwa.”

The group said that Oliveros thru her counsels sought the “release on recognizance” as a legal remedy on the belief and reasonable hope that the state would recognize the right of the mother to take care of the child outside the detention cell.
Montemayor asserted that Oliveros is not a convicted felon and was detained under unlawful means. Her rights were violated when she was illegally arrested along with her colleagues, psychologically tortured and continuously tormented by illegal detention.

This incident is a setback on the respect for human rights; the alliance resolves to work for the immediate release of Judilyn and her baby. As of today, the counsels for the Morong 43 are filing a motion for reconsideration.

Carlos Montemayor, RN
Cellphone # : 0922 499 6237

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To the families of the 43 detained health workers: A statement of Solidarity

Dear family members,

We are members and allies of ASDIC, Anti-Racism Study Dialogue Circle. We are a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, interfaith group based in the state of Minnesota, USA. We are committed to the work of undoin racism, white privilege and the legacy of colonialism.

We have become aware of the unjust arrest and detention of your loved ones. We want you to know that we stand in solidarity with you. You are in our thoughts and prayers during this time of anguish and crisis.

Our government officials will be receiving letters urging them to communicate with your Preseident and other appropriate government officials. We urge them to take immediate action on behalf of your loved ones.

In justice, solidarity and peace,

Members and allies of ASDIC

Sunday, August 15, 2010

HEAD to PNoy: Strengthen People-Based Health Programs

President Noynoy Aquino should strengthen community-based health programs as partners in developing better healthcare for all.

The group Health Alliance for Democracy made this call as it joined volunteer community health workers from all over the country in a four-day general assembly in Quezon City. The assembly ended yesterday amid re-affirmations of commitment to serve far-flung areas despite very little government support and threats from state security forces.

“Community-based health programs have been at the forefront of providing healthcare services and education since the 1970s. These are people helping people, volunteers from poor families who provide services and basic health education to their fellow poor families, especially in rural and frontier areas,” said Dr. Darby Santiago, an ophthalmologist and HEAD chairperson.

According to Dr. Santiago, the continuing relevance of CBHPs today reflects not just their significant role among marginalized communities but also government’s failures to address the needs of these communities.

“People-based health programs work because they are anchored on people’s direct participation, on commitment despite the odds, and on communal welfare rather than on narrow self interests.”

The Aquino administration should strengthen and support such people-based health initiatives instead of promoting the corporatization of public hospitals or the privatization of healthcare, which are mainly for profit.

“The invaluable role community health workers should also be emulated. They fill in the gaps where there are no doctors and nurses. They should not be seen as competitors or threats to government, as the military and state security forces usually say,” added Dr. Santiago.

He reminded the case of Morong 43, or the 43 detained and tortured community health workers, as a cautionary tale that should never be allowed to happen again.

“The CHWs remain unfazed in spite of what happened to their colleagues, who like them, have volunteered their lives to help the needy. They reaffirm their commitment while demanding that the injustices stop now.”

“Some injustices should be immediately rectified through the release of the Morong 43!” concluded Dr. Santiago. ###


Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, Health Alliance for Democracy(HEAD)
Cellphone #: 0920 460 3712

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, Health Alliance for Democracy(HEAD)
Cellphone #: 0927 473 7700

Friday, August 13, 2010

Court defers arraignment of 'Morong 43' anew

By Dennis Carcamo (

MANILA, Philippines – A court in Rizal again deferred the arraignment of the so-called "Morong 43" and scheduled the court proceedings on a later date.

Judge Gina Cenat Escoto of Morong Regional Trial Court Branch 78 has reset the arraignment on Nov. 8 pending the resolution of the case filed before the Supreme Court questioning the legality of the arrest and continued detention of the 43 health workers.

The health workers were nabbed by military and police during a raid at a house in Morong, Rizal last Feb. 6. During the raid, authorities reportedly confiscated from the group bomb-making chemicals and several firearms.

This morning, the health workers were supposed to enter a plea before the court regarding the illegal possession of explosives and firearms charges lodged against them by government prosecutors.

The is the second time the arraignment was postponed. The first was last March 5 and was deferred by the Morong RTC, then under Judge Amorfina Cerrado Ceazar, on the argument of the defense counsels that there is still a pending question raised in the High Court.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

De Lima Supports Non-Separation of Morong 43 Mom, Newborn


MANILA – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima overturned the move of a subordinate and expressed support for the non-separation of Morong 43 mother and her newborn son.

Carina Judilyn Oliveros, one of the 43 health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal on Feb. 6 gave birth to her first baby July 22 at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). The legal counsels of the Morong 43 filed a petition before the Morong Regional Trial Court (RTC) for Oliveros’s release on recognizance so she could breastfeed her baby.

Amylyn Sato, one of the legal counsels of the Morong 43, said the petition does not indicate the duration for the temporary release but the pediatrician’s recommendation is six months. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for babies up to six months and continuous breastfeeding with supplementary feeding up to two years old and beyond.

State Prosecutor II Romeo Senson filed a manifestation of vehement opposition to the said petition.

In a dialogue with the relatives, legal counsels and colleagues of the 43 health workers, Aug. 6, De Lima said her office would file a manifestation to the Morong RTC stating the department’s non-objection to the non-separation of the mother and her baby.

De Lima said she had ordered Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to discuss with Senson the withdrawal of the vehement opposition.

Arellano told the Morong 43 legal counsels that Senson told him he would not withdraw his opposition, insisting that the release on recognizance is not possible because the case against the Morong 43 is a non-bailable offense. The 43 health workers have been charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Arellano added that Senson said he would not oppose a move to prolong the stay of the mother and the baby in the hospital.

Eleanor Jara, executive director of the Council for Health and Development (CHD), expressed reservations on the proposal. “The hospital is not a place for normal mother and baby to do breastfeeding,” she said.

Romeo T. Capulong, lead counsel of the Morong 43, said it is a better option than the separation of mother and baby.

Bishop Reuel Marigza, general secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), who also attended the dialogue said the detention facility at the Camp Bagong Diwa where the Morong 43 have been detained since May is not a place for a nursing mother and her baby. The UCCP has agreed to take custody of the mother and the baby if the court would grant the petition for temporary release.

“Yes,” De Lima agreed, “that’s not a place for a mother and her baby.”

De Lima said they would let the Morong RTC decide whether to grant the petition for Oliveros’s temporary release.

Asked for comment, Oliveros told Bulatlat: “All I want is to be with my baby. I am glad that the DOJ supports my request not to be separated from my son.”

Capulong said there were cases that political prisoners, even those with non-bailable offenses, were released on humanitarian grounds. “As long as there is no opposition, the courts usually grants the petition for humanitarian reasons,” Capulong said.

Capulong cited the release of Sotero Llamas, National Democratic Front (NDF) leader in 1996. Llamas then was charged with rebellion and insurrection.

Replace Senson
Capulong also took the opportunity to voice out the apprehension of the relatives of the Morong 43 regarding Senson. “We were waiting for Senson to inhibit himself from this case [but he did not],” Capulong said.

“I’m also not comfortable about it,” De Lima admitted. “Why would he use the term ‘vehement’?” De Lima said, referring to Senson’s opposition to the motion for Oliveros’s temporary release. “Let’s just replace him,” De Lima told Arellano.

Days after the arrest of the Morong 43, it was Senson who subjected the Morong 43 to inquest proceedings without the presence of their lawyers.

Senson also questioned the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), then chaired by De Lima, to conduct investigations on allegations of human rights violations.

Senson was among the respondents to the complaint filed by the Morong 43 before the CHR. The state prosecutor even filed a motion of injunction against the CHR before the Court of Appeals (CA).

Status of the Case
The Supreme Court has yet to decide on the motion filed by the legal counsels of the Morong 43 against the Court of Appeals ‘ (CA) decision to junk the habeas corpus petition.

Capulong noted that the new solicitor general, then president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Jose Anselmo Cadiz, sided with the landmark decisions of the Supreme Court in the past such as on Proclamation No. 1017, Executive Order No. 464, and the calibrated preemptive response policy (CPR).

“Our petition is meritorious,” Capulong said.

The Office of Solicitor General (OSG), together with the Judge Advocate General’s Office (JAGO), act as the counsel of the military in the Morong 43 case.

De Lima said she would ask the solicitor general to study thoroughly the case of the Morong 43.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Some injustices can be corrected now, even without the Truth Commission

Again, for the umpteenth time, the families and supporters of the 43 detained health workers known as the Morong 43 today appealed for their immediate release in a dialogue with officials of the Department of Justice.

“The truth has always been known to us: that the 43 health workers are innocent,” said Dr. Julie Caguiat, spokesperson of the Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance.

According to Dr. Caguiat, the hearings conducted by the Commission on Human Rights when Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was still at its helm had already ferreted out the gross violations of due process and human rights perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“The continuing detention of the Morong 43 is a perpetuation of the injustice started by the repressive Arroyo administration. The best way for the administration of President Noynoy Aquino to show that it is on the path of righteousness is to stop and correct such wrongdoing, by releasing the 43 as soon as possible,” added Dr. Caguiat.

One of the detained health workers, Judilyn Oliveros, recently gave birth to a baby boy at the Philippine General Hospital. However, the 26-year-old nursing mother and her infant are now under threat of being hauled back to jail.

“As though the suffering of Judilyn, who was tortured even when she was pregnant, is not yet enough, the AFP, through the courts, wants to extend the injustice to her newborn baby.”

Early this morning, state prosecutor Romeo Senson vehemently opposed the motion by lawyers of Judilyn for temporary liberty for her condition.

Some of the other detained health workers are also suffering from various ailments, including epilepsy, hypertension, gout, and heart disease.

“The Truth Commission may help exact some accountability for the Arroyo administration’s sins and crimes against the people but where will the victims seek redress for the suffering they endured? When will their suffering end?” decried Dr. Caguiat.

The families and friends of the Morong 43 are still hoping that President Noynoy will be true to the commitment he made earlier that he will act for their immediate release. ###


Dr. Julie Caguiat

Mobile: 0909 113 3038

DOJ chief won’t let Morong 43 detainee separated from baby

By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday ordered a government prosecutor to withdraw his opposition to a petition filed by a Morong 43 detainee who asked to be released so she could care for her newborn son.

“I have ordered the prosecutor (State Prosecutor Romeo Senson) to withdraw his opposition... Mother and child should not be separated,” De Lima told reporters prior to meeting with the lawyer and families of the Morong 43 detainees at the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila.

Accused Judilyn Oliveros, a first-time mother, gave birth to a son last July 22 at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). Both mother and child remain confined at the hospital.

A week after giving birth, Oliveros asked her lawyer to file a motion for release on recognizance for humanitarian reasons before the Morong Regional Trial Court Branch 78.

Her petition said she wanted to breastfeed her baby for at least six months which was the recommendation of her son's pediatrician. Oliveros asked the court to allow her to nurse and bond with her baby outside the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

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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