Sunday, October 31, 2010

No timetable set for Morong 43’s release, says Malacañang

By Aytch S. de la Cruz

As President Aquino went active in joining other world leaders in their campaign to release detained Burmese politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, hopes continue to stay bleak for the state of 43 health workers who were arrested in Morong, Rizal province, that they would be accorded similar attention.

It was implied yesterday by deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte that while Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has already submitted her recommendations on the case of the so-called “Morong 43” to the President, he is yet to act on them.

Aquino has earlier stated his position on this matter, signifying his intention to leave their cases to the court first out of respect to its jurisdiction even as he recognized the fact that the pieces of evidence against them by the military were obtained illegally.

Valte conveyed to reporters, in an interview over the state-run dzRB, to just wait for further developments as the President pores over the recommendations presented by De Lima where he would base whatever decisions he has to make regarding the matter.

“DoJ (Department of Justice) Secretary Leila de Lima has already made recommendations on this matter and from what I remember; the last statement of the President on this matter was to leave it to the courts because there is what we call evidence that is the fruit of the poisonous tree which is ill-gotten. So let’s just wait for developments there,” Valte said.

Aquino’s inaction over the cases of the Morong 43, who are considered political prisoners, already drew widespread flak from international human rights advocates including a New Zealand-based group, Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS), which recently came out with a public statement urging their Prime Minister, John Key, to enlighten the Philippine President on this matter.

“It’s a good thing that the Philippines is adding pressure for the restoration of democracy in Myanmar, but it’s totally outrageous that scores of political prisoners including 43 community health workers remain in unjust detention under the supposedly democratic Aquino government,” APS spokesman Luke Coxon was quoted saying.

Coxon and his group also scored the Philippines’ plan to host the secretariat of the Asean Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights since human rights abuses under Aquino’s watch have persisted.

“Before it can be a model host for the secretariat of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, the Philippine government has a lot of cleaning up to do with its messy human rights record,” Coxon stressed.

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Justice for the 43!