Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Release of Health Care Workers arrested February 6, 2010

NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations
www.lrwc.org; lrwc@portal.ca; Tel : +1 604 738 0338 ;Fax : +1 604 736 1175
Promoting human rights by protecting those who defend them



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
http://www.president.gov.ph/contact/default.aspx
corres@op.gov.ph


Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line: +63(2) 521 8344 ; +63(2) 521 3721
Trunkline: +63(2) 523 8481 loc.214
Fax: +63(2) 521-1614
Email: soj@doj.gov.ph

Honourable President Aguino and Secretary De Lima;

     Re: Release of Health Care Workers arrested February 6, 2010

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) requests that your government act to remedy the illegal arrest, detention and treatment of the 43 health care workers arrested at Rizal on February 6, 2010 and the violations of their internationally protected rights by immediately directing:
  1. The withdrawal of all charges against each and all of them; and,
  2. The release of all 43 detained health care workers.

LRWC investigations

NGOs around the world have expressed the opinion that the charges against the 43 health care workers are trumped up and the evidence against them fabricated to ensure false convictions and have called for their unconditional release. The list of NGOs includes august groups such as Amnesty International. Attached as Appendix II is a partial list of Canadian NGOs calling for the release of the health care workers.

LRWC—as a result of our own investigations—agrees with this assessment. LRWC is further of the opinion that the charges against the 43 health care workers (illegal possession of firearms and explosives and violation of the Commission on Elections gun ban) are not sustainable and cannot result in bona fides convictions before a properly constituted court because of tainted evidence, denial of rights to timely access to counsel, due process and a fair trial and illegal treatment during arrest and imprisonment. Attached as Appendix I to this letter is a LRWC’s brief summary of violations of international law obligations by Philippine authorities in the health workers' case.

The evidence upon which the health care workers are being held (on non-bailable offences) has been obtained under circumstances that either forbid admissibility in a court of law or destroy reliability. For example, alleged statements by the 5 people still held separately (that they are members of the New People’s Army) appear inadmissible by virtue of the illegal treatment used to obtain the statements which available reports indicated included torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, denial of access to lawyers, bribery and intimidation. Factors indicating that physical evidence (C4 explosives, pistol, grenades and improvised land mines) alleged to have been found on the Velmonte property was planted that cannot be ignored include: opportunity, absence of arrest warrants, absence of valid search warrants for the premises, failure to ensure that the search of the premises was witnessed any independent party or representative of the accused, failure to ensure that the search of the premises was supervised by appropriately trained police personnel, extraordinary measures (blindfolding) taken to prevent the accused from observing or overseeing in any way the search of the premises, failure to advise arrestees of the allegations against them, the reasons for their arrest or the reason for the search of the premises.

The legal options available to the detainees appear strikingly impotent to secure a timely judicial review of the legality of their arrest, treatment and detention and of the search of the property. Similarly calls on the Office of the Human Rights Commission to ensure a professional review of allegations that evidence against them has been fabricated or illegally obtained appear to have been futile and resulting in a remedy. Clearly the rights of the 43 health care workers to due process and a fair trial and to remedies for the violation of their internationally protected rights have already been so severely impaired as to foreclose their right to make full answer and defense to the charges they presently face. The habeas corpus proceedings initially filed February 9, 2010 has been stalled for almost 8 months. This delay raises the concern of executive interfere—again fatal to the legitimacy of the procedure.

During our deliberations, LRWC has also considered the records of community service of the various people accused and implicated by these proceedings. Dr. Melicia Velmonte, owner of the property in question, Chairman of COMMED, a well-known infectious disease specialist and professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine is, we believe, most unlikely to be involved in an illegal enterprise. Similarly, the records of community health care service of Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor (Director of Health Education, Training and Services Department, Council for health and Development), Gary Liberal (registered nurse, operating room head nurse and union President of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center), Teresa Quinawagan, (midwife), Dr. Alexis Montes, (member of the Community Medicine Development Foundation), Lydia Obera (staff of Alliance of Health Workers), Reynaldo Maqabenta (driver for Community for Health and Development) inspires disbelief in their criminality. We urge a solution before more damage is done. In particular we wish to highlight the urgent need to protect the rights of the next generation. Mercy Castro is due to deliver her baby on October 27, 2010. She must be freed before her due date. No proper provisions have been made for her medical care and attention before, during or after delivery. We are advised that Carina Judilyn Oliveros had her baby in custody in July, that she is currently under hospital arrest with her infant and will be returned to Camp Bagong Diwa at the expiry of 3 months. Clearly continued detention of Ms Oliveros can only have negative long term consequences for the infant.

LRWC investigations included: a visit on September 20, 2010 to the prisoners at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, interviews with legal counsel, a review of the recommendations and conclusions by other human rights organizations about the mal fides of the arrest, detention, treatment and about the charges themselves and a review of the international law bonding on the Philippines and relevant to the issues.

Based on LRWC’s examination of the facts, it is clear that the continued detention of the 43 health care workers will indubitably result in risks to the communities that were being served by them. We note in particular the record of service of the two doctors, the nurse and the midwives detained. It is likely that continued detention of the 43 health care workers may result in irremediable personal and professional harm to some or all of them. We are aware of both the abysmal circumstances in which they are detained and of the pain of being separated from their work, their communities and their families.

Based on LRWC’s examination of the applicable international law, it is clear that the illegal arrests, the improperly authorized and supervised search of Dr. Velmonte’s property, the exposure of the health care workers to treatment absolutely prohibited under international law and the denial of due process critical to a fair trial, combine to irremediably impair their right to a fair trial. We conclude that the remedy required is withdrawal of all charges and release. We know of no factors and no law that legitimately authorizes continued detention. We note that continued detention may in itself constitute a violation by the government of the Philippines , to ensure rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is well established that state party to this treaty must as an essential part of the duty to ensure protected rights, act quickly to provide effective remedies for violations. (Appendix I)

All of which is respectfully submitted.

We look forward to further communications with your office and remain ready to answer inquires or provide additional information.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC

cc.

Loretta Ann Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: +63(2) 928 5655 ; +63(2) 926 6188
Fax: +63(2) 929 0102
Email: coco.chrp@gmail.com

Edre Olalia
Acting Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers,
Tel: 011 632 9206660;
email: hoyuhee@yahoo.com

Dr. Julie Caguiat
Chairperson of the Community Health Development (CHD)
and the Spokesperson of the "Free the 43" Health Workers
22/F, Erythrina Building , #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets, Brgy,
Central District Quezon City , Philippines .
(+632) 4342837; Fax (+632) 4354146 email:

freethe43@yahoo.com
Canadian Embassy
Head of Pol/Eco Relations and Public Affairs
Levels 6-8, Tower 2
RCBC Plaza 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City 1200
PO Box 2098 , Philippines
VIA FACSIMILE to 011 632 843 1975
Tel: (632) 857 9024
email: James.trotteir@international.gc.ca
Related News:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Report on visit to Morong 43

CONFERENCE OF LAWYERS IN THE ASIA PACIFIC (COLAP)

International Lawyers group arrived past 14:00 hrs Manila time into the prison where the prisoners are being held.

Upon arrival, the group was meant to visit the female inmates first yet for no apparent reason we were sent to visit the males first. Access to male’s prison was delayed with no apparent reason either.

No searches at all were conducted on the visitors.

Cameras were not allowed to come in, yet after some negotiations with jail authorities, 1 camera was allowed for the visit room prepared for us. Pictures from the lawyers’ photo camera were taken by jail officers.

Before the arrival of the male inmates, which was pretty delayed, some family members joined the lawyers’ group. They reported the following:
  1. Before transfer from the military complex, they had no access or idea where their relatives were.
  2. After their transfer from the military complex to the jail, they were granted easy access in the same conditions of the other prisoners.
  3. Food is not given to the prisoners and they have to manage with just over US$1 a day. Water is not drinkable and they have to buy it or get it from family members. Family is allowed to bring some food and water to the inmates.
  4. They report similar treatment as other inmate’s families.

Inmates arrived just before 15:00 hrs Manila time, just for the time of the Muslim prayer, which took place in the mosque near where the meeting was supposed to take place, having heavy noise which impeded flown communication between the parties. The Muslim prayer took place during most of the time prepared for the meeting limiting communication capacities between the inmates and the observation group.

Inmates reported the following during their detention at the military camp:
  1. Torture by beatings, handcuffing, blindfolding, pulled fingers and arms, electricity, water poisoning, touching of private parts, mobilization nearby the shooting ring, and heavy noise during most of time, including at night.
  2. No visits were allowed until fifth, day, including legal counseling.
  3. Arbitrary interrogations and checks.

After their transfer to the jail, medical attention was ineffective, either delayed or insufficient.

Two observers were allowed to come in the cells after some negotiation with the authorities. Cells we some 3m x 5-6mts. Letrine and tap present, yet the latrine had no flow of water, creating a health hazard. Ventilation and light was sufficient. Rain would come in the cells through uncovered windows, wetting the entire floor, which represents a health hazard.

There were 2 3 story beds were the inmates would sleep. Capacity for the cells was allegedly for 9, thus, they were distributed in groups of five, having no crowding reported on the males cells. Beds were actually iron frames where a plywood board would be put so the inmates could lay there. Inmates would use futon-type cushions brought by their relatives.

Inmates would cook their food in the cells with kerosene provided by the jail.

No heavy noise was reported at nighttime by the prisoners. Cleanliness was on the inmates, who kept their cells tidy among the circumstances. Visit to the 3 cells of the male inmates was limited to about 15 minutes, time enough to check them all, which were pretty much on the same conditions.

No serious problems were detected on the cells except for the latrine and the rain coming into the cell.

On the female’s side, I would love to see a report from someone else, since I was looking at the male’s cells, thus arrived late at the meeting with the women.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

43 jailed health workers appeal anew for ‘immediate’ gov’t action

By Karen Boncocan
INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines – The 43 health workers who are under military custody for allegedly being communists are appealing for support in a letter they wrote on Monday.

After almost eight months in detention and an appeal to President Benigno Aquino III for the release of one jailed mother and child, the health workers this time asked human rights lawyers to remind the President about taking "immediate and impartial action" on their case and to "restore the rule of law...above all, human rights."
Read More...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Solidarity Statement of BAYAN-USA to the Morong 43 and All Political Prisoners


"Beyond razor-wired walls
the moon shimmers in the late summer sky
spills over in pale brightness
to draw me into its fullness
washing my eyes in quicksilver"


from Moon Bereft
By Marilyn Buck,
American political prisoner, Dec. 1947-Aug. 3, 2010

To the Morong 43:

Like the light of the moon and the warmth of the sun, your spirit radiates beyond the walls of the prison intended to smother your hope.

Even as far away as we are, in the belly of the beast that is the United States, we are inspired by your resolve to continue fighting for freedom even as the Aquino administration has persisted in denying you justice.

BAYAN-USA joins in this Day of Action and Sympathy Fast in solidarity with you, the newborn son of Judilyn, and the more than 300 political prisoners who have been detained because they chose to serve the Filipino people and fight against the corrupt and fascist Arroyo regime.

In solidarity with all people who believe in justice, we demand that President Aquino release the Morong 43 and all of the political prisoners in the Philippines.

U.S. Participants in the Day of Action and Sympathy Fast for the Morong 43
(partial list)

Rev. Larry Emery, Walnut Grove Community Presbyterian Church
Pastor David Farley – United Methodist Church
Melissa Roxas, BAYAN USA,Habi Arts
Bernadette Ellorin - BAYAN USA Chairperson
Kuusela Hilo - BAYAN USA, Vice Chairperson
Rhonda Ramiro - BAYAN USA Secretary General
Kiwi Illafonte, BAYAN USA Deputy Secretary General
Terrie Cervas, GABRIELA USA - Vice Chairperson
Bev Tang, Sisters of Gabriela Awaken!
Jijo Puthiakunnel

Will there be change?

I was a physician-surgeon working with a Community-based Health Program in the province of Kalinga since 1987. Years of experience in alternative health care has taught us that the best and most effective approach is to work with the people where they are at. Area-based community health worker training has therefore been one of the main components of any effective health initiative especially in the light of the inability of the State to effectively deliver the necessary health services to its constituents.

Such was the activity that the health professional and health workers known as the Morong 43were engaged in on February 6, 2010 when more than a hundred heavily-armed military and policemen swooped down and took them into custody. While in the hands of the military they suffered physical and psychological torture. To this day, they remain behind bars despite a growing realization among observers of the infirmity of the State’s case.

Traditionally, health personnel and religious workers have been relatively immune from vicious reactionary backlash. But this has not been true in the last ten years. Goaded on by mad generals and cabinet members, the Philippine State Security Forces have literally gone into a rampage of killings, abductions and illegal detentions. This they do for their stated goal of crushing the longest running liberation movement in Asia today – an obvious impossibility considering that they have kept moving forward their self-imposed deadline for many years. The fire of this crazed witch hunt is stoked even more by the logistic support of the most powerful nation in the world.

State oppression is usually done by deception or by force. In the last several years, State has had to employ more and more the latter means, as the carrot does not seem to work anymore. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lot of dead bodies, missing people, and hundreds of political prisoners. And like the Morong 43, there are 338 more political prisoners languishing in jail. None of them deserves to be there.

But now we have a new president. In the first two and a half months of his term, I still have to see some concrete action on his part to actually put a stop to the blood bath. The nation has put its hopes on him. Will he fail us? Will he change things? We will know in the next few months. Otherwise, it will again be up to us, the Filipino people to change things for him.

Chandu Claver
17 September 2010

*Chandu Claver – Kalinga-based former coordinator of the Community Health Concerns for Kalinga, a community basedhealth program. Former member of the Board of Trustees of both the Community Medicine DevelopmentFoundation (COMMED), and the Council for Health Development (CHD). An ambush by suspected State forces resulted in the death of his wife and severe damage to himself. Continuing threats on himself and his children forcedhim to relocate to Canada as a refugee. After investigation a formal hearing, Canada has found his refugee claims asvalid. Presently the Chairperson of BAYAN – Canada.

Friday, September 17, 2010

International Association of Democratic Lawyers hopeful about quick release of Morong 43 after meeting with Sec. of Justice De Lima

A delegation of the bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers met on 15 September 2010 in Manila in the office of the Department of Justice with Secretary of Justice Ms. Leila de Lima to express concern about the situation of the Morong 43 health workers.

The delegation was composed of Jeanne Mirer (US), president, Osamu Niikura (Japan), secretary general, Jitendra Sharma (India) , president emeritus, Justice Vijender Jain (India), vice-president, Jan Fermon (Belgium), deputy secretary general, Edre Olalia (Philippines), bureau member, Jun Sasamoto (Japan), Russel Fraser (UK) and Michael Goold (UK), observers to the bureau.

The delegation had a frank and fruitful discussion with the Secretary of Justice.

The delegation was pleased to hear Secretary De Lima express her intention to request her department to submit the Morong 43 case with great priority to a review which would go into the question of the basis of the arrest of the Morong 43. She expressed also her concern about the abuse to which they have been submitted during their detention.

Sec. De Lima said also that she acknowledged the existence of a practice of legal harassment to which progressive activists were submitted as a result of a policy introduced by the previous administration and expressed the intent of the present administration to put an end to it.

In the light of these important statements made and commitments taken by the Sec. of Justice the IADL delegation expressed its firm hope that the situation of the Morong 43 would expeditiously be reviewed and that this would pave the way to the release of the Morong 43 and the dropping of all charges against them. The IADL delegation expressed its firm intention to follow up the situation and to continue its international campaign in favour of the Morong 43 until they are effectively released and all charges against them are dropped.

Manila, Philippines 17 September 2010

Reference:
Jeanne Mirer (001313 515 2046)
Jan Fermon (003247 544 1896)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Political prisoners nationwide to hold protest fast for the release of Morong 43 and all political prisoners

Detained health workers in Bicutan, and hundreds of political prisoners in various detention facilities in the provinces will stage a national protest fast tomorrow, September 17, to press for the immediate release of all political prisoners. Human rights alliance Karapatan, Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance and the Samahan ng Ex-Detainess Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), together with relatives of the detainees, cause oriented groups and rights advocates will also hold sympathy fast in Quezon City and other parts of the country.

“More than 300 prisoners of conscience are languishing in jail in various detention centers and many of them are illegally arrested and imprisoned for fighting the corrupt and fascist Arroyo regime”according to Jigs Clamor, acting secretary general of Karapatan and convenor of the Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance.

Clamor specifically cited the case of the 43 health workers collectively known as the Morong 43. “It has been almost eight months since the illegal arrest of the 43 health workersin Morong, Rizal, and their rights are still being violated in their continued detention. It has been almost 100 days since Noynoy Aquino became president and he has yet to show any steps in giving freedom to political prisoners, and concrete actions in resolving human rights violations in the country,” added Clamor, whose wife Dr. Merry Mia Clamor is one the detained Morong 43.

Clamor declared that tomorrow, they will hold a day-long protest action and sympathy fasting at the Ninoy Aquino Monument in Quezon City. A mass, to be officiated by Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, shall also be held at 12 noon at the St. Paul the Apostles Parish.

Senator Loren Legarda, Human Rights Commissioner Jose Mamauag, beauty queen and actress Isabel Lopez, church people, civil libertarians and artists shall also join in the mass and program that will follow. Former Martial law activists Director Bonifacio Ilagan, UP Faculty Regent Judy Taguiwalo and community leader Trinidad Herrera, all newly elected board members of SELDA, will also participate in the said activity.

“We are calling on the Aquino administration to be true to his promises of “daang matuwid,” and unconditionally release the Morong 43 and all political prisoners,” concluded Clamor. ###

Sympathy Fasting Center: Ninoy Aquino Monument, Delta (Panay corner Timog Avenue), Quezon City
9:00am-12:00nn Photo Exhibit/Symbolic Tyng of Ribbons/Ritual Activities
12:00–1:00pm Mass to be officiated by Bishop. Iñiguez at the St. Paul of the Apostle Parish
1:00pm-4:00pm Signing of Petition for the Release of Morong 43 and All Political Prisoners, Children’s Workshop and on-the-spot painting
4:00pm-6:00pm Cultural Program
6:00pm-7:00pm Candle Lighting and Signing of the Unity Statement

Detention centers and facilities from the following regions will participate in the said event: Cordillera, Cagayan and Isabela, National Capital Region,Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, Bacolod, Misamis Occidental and Compostela Valley.

Relatives, invited guests and friends of the Morong 43 will be available for interview.

LIVE COVERAGE IS MOST REQUESTED


September 18-19 5th CONFERENCE OF LAWYERS IN ASIA PACIFIC
There are about 200 foreign lawyers and 100 local delegates to the International Conference hosted by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers to discuss “Human Rights and Peace Amidst Global Crisis and Conflict”.
12:00nn A Press Conference of IADL Bureau Members


September 20 A Visit to the MORONG 43 at the Camp Bagong Diwa
Foreign delegates to the International Conference will visit the Morong 43 to give their support and to investigate on their present situation inside the detention center. For the itinerary please contact Tinay Palabay, TANGGOL BAI convenor 0917 500 3879.

September 21 Commemoration of Martial Law
Human Rights groups led by KARAPATAN will participate in the multi-sectoral rally ked by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan to denounce the continuing political repression in the country and to demand the immediate release of the Morong 43 and other political prisoners in the country.
For details please contact Abby of BAYAN.

Related News:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An expression of concern for the just resolution of the Morong 43 case and the cases of 300 other political prisoners

UN-accredited human rights lawyers group notes commitments of Philippine Government under international conventions

We are officers and members of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the world’s oldest and biggest organization of human rights lawyers in the world with members in 90 countries. The IADL has NGO consultative status with the UN ECOSOC and UNICEF and engages in the UN sessions in Geneva, New York and Vienna.

Since our founding in 1946 in Paris, we have participated in and supported the struggles against violations of human rights of peoples and individuals and threats to international peace and security and other legal issues under international law. From inception, IADL has throughout the globe protested racism, colonialism, and economic and political injustice wherever they interfere with legal and human rights.

We are in the Philippines to attend the fifth Conference of Lawyers in Asia-Pacific (COLAP V) which will be held on September 18 and 19, to be attended by around 300 lawyers from 23 countries We are taking this occasion to meet with our esteemed colleague, Atty. Leila de Lima, the Philippine Secretary of Justice, to express our deep concern about the plight of the 43 health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal last February 6. We believe that based on the established facts and the credible and consistent reports, some universal legal precepts were violated in their arrest, search, and continued detention. We wish to register our alarm over reports of their torture and inhumane treatment in the hands of Philippine state forces.

IADL has decided to take the Morong 43 case, and necessarily, the cases of 300 or so political detainees (mostly arrested under the Gloria Arroyo administration), as an international campaign. We are here to respectfully urge the new Philippine government to faithfully heed its commitments under international conventions on human rights. We look forward to the just and speedy resolution of the cases of the Morong 43 and the other political prisoners.

Lastly, we wish to express our appreciation to Secretary De Lima for kindly agreeing to meet with us at such short notice. We are heartened that a lawyer that works so hard for human rights has been appointed as your country’s Justice Secretary and we remain hopeful that she will remain steadfast and uncompromising as when she was head of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights.#
Reference
Ref: Atty. Edre U. Olalia

Bureau Member
International Association of Democratic Lawyers
Landline/Mobile No.: 9206660 / 09175113373

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 17 : National Day of Action and Sympathy Fasting

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.”


Reference:
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

Related Stories



[Letter to Justice Corona]

September 6, 2010


HON. RENATO CORONA
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

Sunday, September 5, 2010

UNCONDITIONALLY AND IMMEDIATELY FREE CARINA JUDILYN OLIVEROS AND MERCY CASTR0! FREE THE 'MORONG 43 HEALTH WORKERS AND ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS

An open letter to President Benigno Aquino, Jr.

President Aquino, we are conducting another SOLIDARITY FASTING this Saturday and Sunday (September 4-5) in support of the 'Morong 43' health workers who were illegally arrested in Morong, Rizal last February 6, tortured while detained for three months at the AFP's Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, and thereafter transferred at the BJMPs Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, Metro Manila.

Last July 22, one of the 'Morong 43' health workers gave birth to a baby boy, but 26-year-old Carina Judilyn Oliveros was granted a mere three-month “hospital arrest” status at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), despite her just plea to be unconditionally freed on humanitarian grounds, President Aquino, what has become of the political tradition, practiced even during the dark martial law era urging the government to release nursing mothers and pregnant women political prisoners on purely humanitarian considerations? And must the sad fate of Carina Judilyn Oliveros also happen to 27-year-old Mercy Castro, another of the 'Morong 43' health workers who is due to give birth sometime next month?

Last July 6, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda announced that Malacañang has ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to review the 'Morong 43' case. President Aquino, it has been two months since you made that order after also meeting personally some relatives of the detained health workers. How long must the 'Morong 43' wait for you to right the serious wrong inflicted upon them by the government's counter-insurgency campaign?

President Aquino, through this solidarity fast, we also seek to follow-up on your administrations obligation to free political prisoners whose much-deserved release have been denied them despite previously-signed agreements to this effect in 2001, 2004, and 2009 between the duly-authorized Peace Panels of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF). We wish to remind you that the release of all political prisoners and the GRP's firm commitment to all its agreements with the NDF since 1992 are the best measures for the resumption of the GRP-NDF formal peace talks.

In about a month's time, your first 100 days in office will end. And so we ask: How long will you delay the process of rendering justice for those whose basic human rights were wantonly violated by the fascist Arroyo regime?

(sgd.) RAMON PATRIARCA
Detainee(Danao City Jail)
      (sgd.) ALBERTO ACERDIN
Detainee(Danao City Jail)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The people of Oldenburg show their colour!

- against political killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines.

Oldenburg, Germany. During spotless sunshine the German-Philippine human rights initiative Sumabay Tayo! Walking together – for Justice! Informed about the human rights violations in the Philippines and their effects on health. This activity took place at the fifth human rights day in the German City of Oldenburg on 4 September 2010.

Since 2001, over 1200 people have become victims of politically motivated killings and over 200 persons have disappeared in the Philippines. The victims’ relatives and survivors are psychologically and physically burdened. “This is the first time that I hear about the alarming situation in the Philippines” states a visitor at the human rights day in the town center of Oldenburg.

“Stop the political killings in the Philippines!“ says the placard that is held by an activist towards the passersby. Suddenly the activist falls to the ground. A crime scene remains showing the following inscription: Edison Lapuz, murdered on 12 May 2005. Lapuz was a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and a human rights activist. He was murdered by masked men on the Philippine Island of Leyte in 2005.

The drama presented by Sumabay Tayo! was able to attract the attention of the numerous passers-by in the pedestrian area of Oldenburg. “The pantomime is impressive. It conveys a message that inspires and provokes reflection”, one pedestrian notes.

At the Sumabay Tayo! information desk, one of the eleven placards calls attention to the situation of 43 Philippine health workers. The so called Morong 43 were subjected to illegal arrest in February 2010. They are detained since. The detainees suffer from medical disorders and even a newborn baby was exposed to the inhuman conditions in the jail.

“This activity informs the German public about the human rights violations in the Philippines and motivates to take action. This increases the pressure on the Philippine government to do something against the injustice”, states a Philippine visitor. This was stressed by over 90 people in Oldenburg who gave their picture and their signature for a stop of political killings and enforced disappearance.

“We call for the thorough and comprehensive investigations of human rights violations, fair trials, the prosecution of all perpetrators and mastermind regardless of their ranks, the protection of witnesses, victims and their relatives as well as their medical care”, says Hannah Wolf, spokesperson of Sumabay Tayo! She adds: “We are very happy that so many people have joined us in our demands through their pictures and signatures. The support of the Oldenburg public has clearly exceeded all of our expectations.” The pictures as well as the demands will be send as postcards to the newly elected Philippine president Aquino.


Contact:
Hannah Wolf

Spokesperson of Sumabay Tayo!
Mobile: +491775150556
eMail: sumabaytayo@ymail.com
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