Monday, December 6, 2010

Palace should make categorical statement on Morong 43-- Bayan

Believing that it’s not enough to simply say that the case is up to the courts, umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan again pressed the Aquino government to make a clear and categorical statement on their plans to resolve the issue of the detention of the Morong 43.

“It’s been ten months, two DOJ memoranda, two babies born in detention and countless appeals from the day the Morong 43 were illegally arrested, tortured, denied counsel and detained. It’s not enough that the Aquino government to say that the case is up to the courts. What the people want to know and what the detainees want to know, is what exactly will Malacanang do to rectify the situation?” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“Of course it will be the courts who will order the release. But what will Malacanang do to enable the courts to make such a decision? What are the concrete steps Malacanang will undertake to secure the release of the 43?” Reyes asked.

Over the weekend, President Benigno Aquino III was quoted as saying that the case is up to the courts to decide. It is the third time he has commented on the case of the Morong 43, and the first time after the detainees launched their hunger strike last December 3.

Bayan said that the 43 remain in high spirits during their hunger strike, even if, according to their doctors, some are experiencing hyperacidity, dizziness, nausea and hypertension. Other BJMP detainees have also fasted to show support for the Morong 43.

The umbrella group also slammed the Armed Forces of the Philippines for statements it made over the weekend, saying that NDFP Chief Negotiator Luis Jalandoni’s call to free the 43 health workers is proof that the detainees are members of the NPA

“That statement is non-sequitur inasmuch as Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada’s call to free the 43 does not mean the detainees are members of the Liberal Party. The statements made by the AFP show that up to now, they are still unrepentant over the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the 43. They are, quite possibly, the force that is trying to stop the release of the health workers, despite the DOJ review,” Reyes said

“We challenge Malacanang to make a clear and categorical statement within this week, when the world observes Human Rights Week.

Two detainees have already given birth while in detention. Judilyn Oliveros and Mercy Castro are now both at the Philippine General Hospital as they are allowed to breastfeed their babies.

The Morong 43 face charges of illegal possession of explosives before the Morong Regional Trial Court and illegal possession of firearms before the Morong Municipal Trial Court. They have a pending appeal before the Supreme Court on their habeas corpus petition questioning the validity of their arrest.

“Government must take responsibility for rectifying the situation of the Morong 43. The courts can only act if the DOJ withdraws the cases filed against the 43. If there’s no action from the executive, what do they expect the courts will do?” Reyes asked. ###


Abby Valenzuela
Public Information Officer
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
(+63)915 763 9619

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