Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Morong 43 relatives appeal for speedy Supreme Court action

Seven months after their illegal arrest, incarceration and torture, the 43 community health workers are still waiting for the Supreme Court to rectify the injustices they have suffered and to set them free.

In a letter hand-carried by the relatives, the health workers known as the Morong 43 reiterated their appeal to the SC to act on their case.

“These detained health workers are seeking an immediate review of the legality of their arrest and continuing detention,” said Carlos Montemayor, spokesperson of the Free the 43 Health Workers! Alliance.

“The SC can also put an end to the arbitrary arrests propped up by planted evidence and torture-obtained testimonies that have become the unholy practice of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its counter-insurgency program.”

The Morong 43 was arrested through a raid led by the AFP early morning of February 6, 2010 as the group was having breakfast in preparation for their disaster preparedness training. The basis for the raid was a faulty search warrant. Aside from being detained and tortured, other human right violations included the denial of legal counsel.

“The overwhelming evidence of wanton violations of basic human rights and denial of due process has already been exposed in detail by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima when she was still at the helm of the Commission on Human Rights.” Montemayor added.

“Every day of further delay is a day of injustice, not just for the detained but also for their families, who have been wrongfully made to suffer a similar torture of seeing their loved ones in jail.”

The group is hoping that their letter to the SC justices will make their appeal for judicious action more compelling.

“As the Aquino administration has extended Oplan Bantay-Laya, which has been the policy that gave license to military abuses against civilians, many more are in danger of meeting the same fate as the Morong 43. The Supreme Court can put an end to this.”

Carlos Montemayor,RN
Mobile : 0922-499-6327

Supreme Court spokesman, Atty Midas Marquez receives letter of appeal and symbolic roses from relatives and supporters of the Morong 43. Relatives ask the high court to expedite the review of the health workers' case. (Photo: Health Students Action-HSA)
Photo: Health Students Action-HSA
Photo: Health Students Action-HSA

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[Letter to Justice Corona]

September 6, 2010

Chief Justice
Supreme Court
Padre Faura, Manila

Dear Hon. Chief Justice:

Greetings of peace!

We are the family and relatives of the 43 community health workers who were illegally arrested on February 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal while they were attending the “First Responders Community Health Training” in the farmhouse of the Philippine General Hospital consultant Dr. Melecia Velmonte. They have been unjustly languishing in jail for seven (7) months already. We share with them the pain, trauma, and suffering since their illegal arrest. Furthermore, the Honorable Supreme Court has yet to act on their appeal regarding their petition for habeas corpus. It is unfortunate that despite the illegality of their arrest and the gross violations of their rights, they are being unjustly persecuted in the name of national security.

We do not wish to recall that day when our loved ones were illegally arrested. There were about 300 armed men that surrounded and threatened them, and transferred them forcefully to Camp Capinpin. They were handcuffed, blindfolded, and treated inhumanely especially during the first 36 hours. Having been arrested through a defective search warrant and without any warrant of arrest, their constitutional rights, Miranda rights, and human rights have been grossly violated.

The power and might coming from the State forces, who are the supposed defenders of the rights of the people, were unjustly imposed on the Morong 43. With that cruelty, they had to endure the physical, psychological, and mental torture and the sexual indignity and humiliation tantamount to sexual abuse committed by their captors. In that helpless situation, the Morong 43, mostly women including two pregnant, were determined to resist and defy the abuses inflicted on them because they are innocent of the charges slapped against them, which were filed in the Regional and Municipal Trial Courts in Morong, Rizal only on February 11, 2010, or on the sixth day since their illegal arrest.

Having been deprived of their rights to be free and protected by law, they are now unjustly languishing in jail at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City and five (5) of them are still being detained in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. This prolonged and continued detention has caused more anxiety and tension. Having been away from our loved ones, we seek your kind assistance for the Honorable Supreme Court to act immediately on the appeal of the Morong 43 filed on March 11, 2010 regarding their petition for habeas corpus. Allow us to quote the dictum that “Justice delayed is justice denied.” We appeal to your good office to speedily act on the appeal. We and our loved ones have been suffering long enough.

Together with our friends and supporters, we believe that the Honorable Supreme Court and with you, Your Honor, as Chief Justice, justice will be served to the Morong 43. Your prompt action will surely serve as a guiding light in our quest for justice and freedom.

Believing and standing that a free and democratic country should uphold justice at all times, we sincerely hope for you kind consideration.

Very truly yours,

Relatives of Morong 43

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