THIS IS IN REFERENCE TO THE REPORT that one of the “Morong 43” is in the hospital. (Inquirer, 6/12/10). There is great hope as the Philippines welcomes its 15th president, the son of two great icons of Philippine democracy. Expectations are high that justice will be served the victims of human rights violations and that all political prisoners will immediately and unconditionally be released. President Noynoy Aquino and his sisters need not be reminded of the suffering they personally went through when their father was held in prison as a political prisoner for more than seven years.
Auckland Philippines Solidarity joins all freedom-loving people in asking President Aquino to immediately free all political prisoners just as his mother did right after the overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship. We are aware that among the 43 community health workers illegally detained on fabricated charges is Jane Beltran Balleta, a granddaughter of the late Ka Bel. She suffered serious epileptic seizures due to extreme stress caused by detention. Worse, two of the 43 detainees are pregnant women mercilessly deprived of the comforts of their homes and families. The babies in the wombs of these two mothers who have been tortured and illegally detained have also become victims of state brutality.
When Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited New Zealand and many other countries, she was greeted with protests over the endless series of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and illegal detention during her watch, including the detention of the late great labor leader Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran. If the new President Aquino does not wish to be met with the same protests in his future trips abroad, he simply must fulfill his campaign promise to give redress to the victims of corruption and abuses of the past administrations.
If the Filipino people, more particularly, the landless peasants and exploited workers like the ones in the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita, indigenous peoples and others displaced by the massive militarization of communities, will continue human rights abuses and economic injustice, we concerned citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand will be watching with the whole world, and will continue to support international protests to press President Aquino to fulfill the Philippines’ obligations under the international conventions on human rights.
—HELEN TE HIRA,
convener, Auckland Philippines Solidarity,
New Zealand, firstname.lastname@example.org
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