Monday, November 29, 2010

Morong 43 release now DoJ’s call

Letter to the Editor
Philippine Daily Inquirer



I WRITE in reference to the letter of Rosauro B. Canlas. (“Morong 43 case for court to decide,” Inquirer, 11/15/10) If indeed Canlas is a health worker as she claims to be, it makes us very sad to read a fellow colleague parroting the blatant lies and contentions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines regarding the issue of the Morong 43. Canlas should be enlightened on the truth behind the Morong 43’s arrest.

For the record, the health workers were training in a farmhouse owned by a renowned infectious disease specialist and professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. The training facility is well-known among health professionals and medical students as it has been used for significant functions of the medical community—contrary to Canlas’ claim that the place was “undisclosed.” Moreover, the explosives and subversive documents that Canlas alleged to have been found in the possession of the 43 health workers are exactly what President Benigno Aquino III himself refers to as “fruits of the poisoned tree.” Because the “pieces of evidence” were wrongfully gotten by virtue of a defective search warrant, the case cannot prosper in court.

By sheer logic and jurisprudence, a person must be assumed innocent until proven guilty. Disappointingly, present realities and rising statistics of brazen human rights violations prove otherwise.

To say that the court now has exclusive jurisdiction over the case is preposterous. In truth, by President Aquino’s affirmation that the arrest and detention of the 43 were illegal and baseless in the first place, the Department of Justice can now motu proprio withdraw the information or cases filed against them and should desist from initiating any further actions against them.

The 43 do not deserve another day in prison. Free the 43 health workers, free all political prisoners now!

ELEANOR A. JARA, M.D.,
Executive Director,
Council for Health and Development,
chdmancom@gmail.com

‘Morong 43’ taking care of health needs of fellow inmates

AMITA O. LEGASPI, GMANews.TV

The 43 health workers arrested early this year in Morong town in Rizal for allegedly being members and supporters of communist rebels continue to provide health care assistance to the needy even while detained.

Senior Inspector Mary Jane Clemente of the Metro Manila District Jail said they were taking advantage of the skills of the health workers – dubbed as the Morong 43 – especially during emergency situations inside the detention facility.

“Nagagamit namin sila dito lalo na si Dr. [Merry Mia] Clamor, lalo na sa mga check-up at emergency cases pag may inaatake ng hypertension or asthma (They are useful, especially Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, during emergency cases like hypertension and asthma attacks) ," she told reporters.

Clamor, a graduate of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, is the director of the Health Education, Training and Services of the Council of Health and Education, a non-government organization involved in community health work.

Clemente said the presence of the health workers is a big help to them since the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) only has one roving doctor servicing all the 37 jail facilities in the National Capital Region.

“Isipin mo yun isang araw, isang jail. Isang beses isang buwan lang kami halos napupuntahan (We are visited by the roving doctor only once a month)," she said.

Visit from a congressman

The Morong 43, who were arrested in February this year, was visited by House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada in their detention center at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

Tañada first went to the female cell where he was greeted by 21 of the 23 health workers detained there. The other two—Mercy Castro and Judilyn Oliveros—have been confined at the Philippine General Hospital after giving birth while in detention.

Tañada also went to the male detention cell where the other health workers were jailed.

The health workers were wearing yellow t-shirts with words “Free Morong 43" printed on them when they met with Tañada. They were not allowed to talk to the journalists who covered the visit.

Tañada said the health workers informed him they were helping their co-inmates with their health needs.

“They've been taking care of themselves and as a matter of fact I asked them if they've also been looking into the other inmates and they said they do, they coordinate with the BJMP and try to offer their services to the inmates here," he said.

The detained health workers gave the lawmaker a beaded bracelet that they made as a token of appreciation.

Free before Christmas?

“Hopefully something may happen before December or hopefully before Christmas. It would be a nice gift for the Morong 43 to spend Christmas at home," he said.

He expressed hopes that President Benigno Aquino III would not put the issue in the back burner considering the attention it is getting in the country and abroad.

“Parating pinag-uusapan ito dahil maraming repercussions itong kasong ito dahil maraming human rights organizations not only here but abroad who have been raising this issue, so I'm sure a lot of organizations are concerned," he said.

“We will be celebrating the International Human Rights Day (on December 10) and again we would like to reiterate our appeal that the Morong 43 be released from their captivity and if possible, appeal to the President and Secretary De Lima to withdraw the cases filed against them," he said.

Tañada cited the earlier pronouncement of De Lima that the evidence collected against health workers were illegally retrieved and would not be used or would not be admissible in court.

“The ball is in the hands of the executive if they want to proceed or withdraw the case," he said.

Human Rights

He said the release of Morong 43 would show that the Aquino administration respects human rights.

“The International Human Rights Day is just around the corner, it's 11 days from now and it may be one of the messages that the administration might want to make - to show that they respect human rights and one showcase is the release of the Morong 43," Tañada said.

The 43 health workers were detained on charges of illegal possession of explosives and firearms, under Presidential Decree 1866 as amended by Republic Act No. 9516.

“It has been more than nine months since these 43 health workers were arrested and detained using a defective search warrant. They were also interrogated without the assistance of a lawyer. On those counts alone, their case should be withdrawn," said Tañada.

Last week, he filed House Resolution 703 directing the Committee on Human Rights to exercise its oversight function and inquire into how two recently enacted laws -- RA 9851 otherwise known as the International Humanitarian Law, and RA 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law -- are being observed and adhered to by the concerned institutions.

Tortured

He cited reports that the some of the 43 detainees were tortured into admitting that they were members of the New People’s Army.

The admission of five of the members of Morong 43 that they are NPA rebels was the reason why they were left in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal and not brought to Camp Bagong Diwa.

Oscar Yaun, brother of registered midwife Yolanda Yaun, one of the Morong 43, agreed that the detained health workers received better treatment in Camp Bagong Diwa than in Camp Capinpin.

“Sa Capinpin daw kahit alas dos ng madaling araw ginigising sila paisa-isa, kinukuha, ini-interrogate, tatanungin ng paulit-ulit, paaaminin na NPA sila (In Capinpin they were interrogated even at 2 in the morning)," he told reporters.

He said in Camp Capinpin, visitors are allowed to see the detainees for only five minutes, but in Camp Bagong Diwa, the visiting time is longer.

Visitors

For instance, Yaun’s mother, Consolatres, was allowed to see and greet her daughter, who will be celebrating her birthday Tuesday, even though Monday is a no-visitors day.

Clemente said they always try to treat the inmates well.

“Ang problema lang dito hindi maganda yung facilities namin, masikip pero nakakalabas naman sila para magpaaraw, meron din silang mga activities gaya ng badminton at volleyball. Magkakaroon din kami ng Christmas party," she said.

(Our only problem here is our decrepit facilities and cramped space. But the inmates have a lot of activities to enjoy here like badminton and volleyball. We’ll even have a Christmas party.)

She admitted that the security imposed on Morong 43 is tight because they are considered high risk or high profile inmates, which she said is the same classification of drug lords. - KBK, GMANews.TV

Related News

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

PLM medical community joins call to release of Morong 43

Pamantasang Lungsod ng Maynila(PLM) community led by medical students join calls to free the Morong 43. Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, a medical graduate of PLM is among the 43 health workers or the Morong 43 who were arrested last Feb 6 and are still detained at Camp Bagong Diwa based on trumped up charges.

On Tuesday, Aug. 23, coinciding with the launch of the Free the Dr. Merry Mia Clamor – Free the Morong 43 Movement a university wide forum held at Justo Albert Hall values of community health practice and to recognize the contributions of Dr. Clamor as one of those rarefied physicians involved in this field.

Philomedica Scientia, a medical sorority where Dr. Clamor is also a member sponsored the event and was co-sponsored by the PLM College of Medicine Student Council, Brotherhood of Medical Scholars and PLM Medical Alumni Association.

Clamor finished her BS Botany at the Pamantasan in 1997 and later her medical degree in 2001. Immediately after medical school she has been committedly involved in community health work. She is the director of the Health Education, Training and Services of the Council of Health and Development(CHD), the NGO which sponsored the training when they were arrested.

According to Dr. Julie Caguiat, spokesperson of the FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ALLIANCE this event is part of the growing clamor and various efforts calling for justice and the immediate, unconditional release of the Morong 43.

It’s also a stand to raise issues and protection of those in the practice of community medicine and those who work for the benefit of marginalized people and the communities which barely have access to health services.

Doctors and medical professionals like Dr. Mia- Clamor who, in lieu of choosing financially rewarding careers must be recognized and be given protection. “We hope that thru this effort we could also encourage more students to follow Dr. Merry’s selfless example.”

Reference:
Dr. Julie Caguiat

Spokesperson, FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ALLIANCE
0909 113 3038 / 0919 486 0580

Sunday, November 21, 2010

To P-noy, please don’t wash hands on Morong 43

The relatives and the colleagues of the Morong 43 are deeply frustrated by President Aquino’s reprisal of his earlier statement insisting that it is up to the court to decide on the Morong 43.

They still ask the Presidents not to wash his hands on Morong 43 and exercise political will based on truth and a fair sense of justice. The group laments that it’s unfortunate that it seems the President has started to turn a blind eye on the blatant injustices committed against the 43 health workers. According to Carlos Montemayor, spokesperson of the group, “we thoroughly understand that Malacanang as being argued cannot unilaterally decide on the case, but it should not complicate the matter into ‘turf issues’ between executive department and the judiciary. It is a fact that the Palace and the courts are separate institutions and we are not asking them to usurp the courts’ functions.”

However, according to the group, there is something that the Aquino administration can and should do to put an end to the injustice against the Morong 43 on the basis of the President’s affirmation that the arrest and detention of the 43 health workers was illegal and baseless in the first place. The DOJ must now in motu propio withdraw the information or cases filed against the 43 and they should desist in initiating any further actions against them.

The group insisted that there can be no trial if the process of arrest was illegal and so with the evidences being charged to have been in the health workers’ possession were planted. In fact, the local court has not even started with the hearings after in consideration of question of the arrest raised before the Supreme Court.

Montemayor asked, “what was the point of the reviews from the DOJ and Malacanang legal team when P-noy only would only come up with a diffused pronouncement and a repeat of his statement last October 14. It is also strange that President Aquino decided to politically distance himself from the issue after making an official declaration of the lapses and now would leave out his pledge to rectify the matter. ” The alliance hopes that P-noy is not disengaging with his moral duty just to appease the military which had earlier made subtle remarks of not being happy if the president favorably decides in favor of the Morong 43.

“We cannot fathom that a government claiming to hinge its mandate on peoples’ will, democracy and justice will turn a blind eye on a blatant case of injustice for the sake of political expediency,” ended Montemayor.

Reference:
Carlos Montemayor, RN

Mobile : 09224996237

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gone too soon

He did not chase fame or glory for his works so that he could cut a name above the rest. His ardor for studying plants was fueled by a burning passion to contribute to the conservation of the environment. He is Leonard Co, a people’s scientist whose life was cut short in an alleged "crossfire" between the military and NPA on November 15, 2010.

Leonard’s legacy to us is his passion and dedication for his work with which he authored books on indigenous plants in the Cordilleras. The book “Common Medicinal Plants in the Cordillera Region: A Trainor’s Manual for Community-Based Health Programs” served as an invaluable reference to Community Health Workers not only in the Cordillera but to more than 50 community-based health programs (CBHP) across the country. His works paved the way for the documentation of medicinal plants in areas where CBHPs are present. Despite his many commitments, he agreed to be a consultant on a medicinal plants documentation project with the Council for Health and Development (CHD) and a UP-based research group in 2008 -- proof that community-based health programs always have a special place in his heart.

We are saddened and angered by this loss. The entire community-based health programs in the Philippines vow to keep vigil until justice is served for Leonard. An impartial and independent investigation of this case must be undertaken to shed light on the truth and answer many questions. We will not rest until the perpetrators of this crime are punished. We call on President Aquino to ensure that no whitewash of the case shall ever happen and that justice be served the soonest. We challenge the new administration to put an end to the culture of impunity.


Eleanor A. Jara, M.D.
Executive Director
Council for Health and Development
chdmancom@gmail.com

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Resolution Calling for the Immediate Release Of the 43 Community Health Workers in the Philippines

by Raymund B Villanueva on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 5:14am

(Proposed by Raymund B. Villanueva, Kodao Productions, Philippines)

In February 6, 2010, soldiers and police arrested 43 community health workers in the Philippines on the basis of a faulty warrant. The community health practitioners were blindfolded, taken to a military camp, held incommunicado and severely tortured by the Philippine Army. In the past nine months, two of the victims have already given birth under detention.

AMARC hereby expresses its solidarity to our fellow community development workers. Like community broadcasters community health workers provide for a basic human right, particularly in poor, marginalized, disaster-prone areas and areas of conflict.

The new Philippine government has recognized that the arrest was highly irregular. This admission of irregularity was made by no less than Philippine President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III following a thorough investigation by the Philippine Department of Justice and global condemnation.

Under humanitarian, if not legal and moral considerations, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters strongly supports the global campaign for the immediate release of our fellow community development workers, the Morong 43 health workers.

(Passed unanimously as the third resolution of AMARC 10 General Assembly, La Plata, Argentina, 13 November 2010.)

= = = = = = = = =

About AMARC:

AMARC is an international non-governmental organization serving the community radio movement in over 110 countries, and advocating for the right to communicate at the international, national, local and neighbourhood levels. AMARC has an International Secretariat in Montreal. It has regional sections in Africa, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, North America and Asia Pacific and offices in Johannesburg, Buenos Aires, Brussels, and Kathmandu. For more information, please contact Suman Basnet, Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific, suman_basnet@asiapacific.amarc.org or visit www.asiapacific.amarc.org.

Nine months more than enough time to realize the arrest of Morong 43 was illegal

“Ten months is more than enough time to point out the Morong 43 arrest was illegal. Release the health workers, now!” said the relatives and supporters of the Morong 43.

This was the reaction of the relatives to last Monday’s meeting (Nov.15) with Malacanang officials. During the meeting with Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Jose Amorado and Atty. Ronaldo Geron, it was revealed that a final review of the report by Secretary De Lima was just concluded and is ready for President Aquino’s perusal in the coming days.

While P-noy is yet to make to make his comments on these layers of reviews, the group said there is nothing that should keep him from calling the release of the Morong 43, especially when he himself declared the illegalities of the arrest.

After more than 10 grueling months of illegal detention and various levels investigations and reviews of various agencies, including that of Commission of Human Rights, DOJ and now lawyers of the President himself, the time has come to set the health workers free.

According to the FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ALLIANCE, while they welcome the much belated steps of the Aquino administration, they called on Aquino to “stop belaboring the obvious.”

“We are not begging for Malacanang’s mercy to release the Morong 43, we were there to signify and reiterate what a just government should do to the case of the wronged health workers” said Carlos Montemayor, spokesperson of the group.

The group firmly insists that it is just that the Aquino administration to recommend the release of the Morong thru a withdrawal of charges filed by the DOJ under the previous administration.

According to Montemayor, “the continued absence of a concrete and immediate action from the government would be now contemptible if the government continues to talk of justice .” “If this administration indeed seriously adheres to its moral pledge of adherence to human rights especially when something sacred as liberty of persons are in peril” he added.

According to Montemayor, the Aquino administration would also be wrong to circumvent the illegalities and offer other legal remedies which only blur the real and illegal circumstances of their arrest.

The group is wary that the military is being considerably sought on the issue of the Morong 43. Justice should be of foremost consideration in decision-making and not to favor those behind the health workers’ illegal arrest and detention. ##

Reference :
Carlos Montemayor, RN
Spokesperson

FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ALLIANCE

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Morong 43 Alliance Press Conference, Nov. 17 "Reaction to Malacañang Dialogue"

The Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance composed of relatives of the detained health workers and various individuals and organizations supporting the call for release of the 43 illegally health workers will be having a press conference, tomorrow, November 17, 9: 30am at Greenhouse, Matalino St. Quezon City.

The relatives and the colleagues of the Morong 43 will share their views and reactions on the recent dialogue in Malacanang with Senior Deputy Executive Secretay Amorado regarding the recently completed review and recommendations on the Morong 43 to be presented soon to President Aquino. The said Malacanang review was the result of the DOJ review prepared by Secretary Leila De Lima.


Please cover.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, GET IN TOUCH WITH PHILIP PARAAN, 0919 486 1580 or CARLOS MONTEMAYOR - 0922 499 6327.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Aquino to receive review of Morong 43 case this week

JAM L. SISANTE, GMANews.TV

President Benigno Aquino III will receive this week his legal team's review of the Department of Justice’s memorandum on the case of the 43 health workers arrested early this year for allegedly being part of the communist movement.

The report could pave the way for the release of the so-called Morong 43, whom human rights groups said are innocent of the charges being leveled against them by government security forces.

In a phone interview, senior deputy executive secretary Jose Amor Amorado said the submission of the legal review this week was the only commitment he made during his dialogue with colleagues and relatives of the detained health workers on Monday morning.

“I told them that we are currently reviewing the memo of Secretary [Leila] De Lima and within the week we will be sending it to the President," he told GMANews.TV.

Amorado said he cannot disclose De Lima’s recommendations as the memo is confidential. The memo is being reviewed by the Office of the Executive Secretary and by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Eduardo de Mesa.

Meeting

Amorado met with around 30 members of the Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance in Malacanang earlier in the day.

He said he asked the group to present to the government the relatives of five members of the Morong 43 so they can give a “categorical answer" that the five have agreed to become state witnesses.

The health workers are facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Five of them have been placed under separate military custody at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, after they allegedly admitted that they were New People's Army supporters, while the remaining 38 were transferred last May to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance spokesperson Carlos Montemayor told GMANews.TV over the phone that they are asking Aquino to free the workers by ordering the DOJ to withdraw the cases against them.

Hope springs eternal

“Hopeful pa rin kami siyempre (We are still hopeful)," Montemayor said.

Aquino had earlier hinted that the DOJ review of the case indicated that the warrant of arrest did not give the government security forces the authority to arrest the health workers.

“The review basically stated that there was a person that they (authorities) were going to serve a warrant against. That person was not in the resort that was raided. The firearms, in particular, will fall only in a general classification. [The] explosives were not part of the warrant," said Aquino.

Aquino, however, said the fate of the detained health workers ultimately depend on the courts handling their cases.

“The matter is before the courts. Again, [it’s in their] jurisdiction… So [those] courses of action, we would want to rectify that situation. But that would have to undergo sanction by the courts that have already taken cognizance of the case," he said.

“Hindi naman puwede iutos ng executive na lumaya sila without the court’s sanction (The executive cannot just order their release without the court's sanction)," he added.

Suu Kyi

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares, meanwhile, urged President Aquino to release the 43 health workers and other political prisoners in the country, and show them the same compassion he showed Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmar opposition leader who was freed over the weekend after seven and a half years.

Suu Kyi, 65, has been jailed or under house arrest for more than 15 of the last 21 years.

“P-Noy has openly called for the release of Aung Suu Kyi, and has given amnesty to rebel soldiers. Moreover his father was one of the longest detained political prisoners during Martial rule. We expect him therefore to be more sympathetic to the plight of our country’s own political prisoners and order their immediate release," Colmenares said in a statement.

The country has almost 400 political prisoners, according to Colmenares.

He said the government’s immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners would be a gesture of justice and goodwill in the interest of attaining an atmosphere conducive to the peace process as well as a confidence-building measure for the resumption of peace talks.

Last month, Bayan Muna party-list filed House Resolution No. 555 calling for the “immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners," including the Morong 43 who were arrested in a resort compound in Morong, Rizal on February 6. - with Amita O. Legaspi/KBK, GMANews.TV

Sunday, November 14, 2010

‘Morong 43’ sees hope in Monday meet with Malacañang

GMA News.tv

At last, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for relatives and loved ones of the “Morong 43."

Nine months after their arrest, and five appeal letters later, relatives of the 43 health workers arrested on suspicions of being rebel trainees early this year are set to hold a dialogue with Malacañang on Monday morning.

After sending five letters to the President, the Morong 43 relatives will finally meet with Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Jose Amorado at 10 a.m. on Monday at the Malacañang social hall.

“At least 36 relatives of the ‘Morong 43’ remain hopeful that President [Benigno] Aquino [III] will finally heed their plea to immediately release their loved ones," said Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance spokesman Carlos Montemayor in a phone interview with GMANews.TV.

He said relatives and loved ones of the health workers are hopeful that the President will recommend the withdrawal of the case against them, following a statement he made on Oct. 14 noting that the arrest of the 43 was illegal and that “evidence wrongly gotten cannot be used" and therefore the case “cannot prosper."

Relatives of the 43 are particularly hoping that Aquino will step in, especially since Judge Amorfina Cerrado-Cesar of Regional Trial Court Branch 78 recently deferred the arraignment of the health workers to Feb. 28, 2011.

In the interview, Montemayor again questioned the delivery of justice, noting that the Court of Appeals in March junked the workers’ petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

“We hope that the meeting will lead to the release of the 43 as soon as possible — or at least before Christmas, or even before their illegal arrest marks a year," he said.

On Feb. 6, about 300 operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police raided a farm house in Morong, Rizal and arrested 43 health professionals and workers on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Five of them have been placed under separate military custody at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal after they allegedly admitted that they were New People’s Army supporters, while the remaining 38 were transferred last May to the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City.

The Morong 43 said they were conducting a health training seminar, but the military has disputed this, reporting the discovery and seizure from the premises of weapons and explosive devices, including two pieces of improvised claymore landmines.

The military insisted that the discovery of explosives indicated that the activities of the 43 were not limited to health trainings alone.

Various rights groups have, however, pointed out that the arrests were based on a warrant for a certain “Mario Conde," who, in subsequent hearings by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), was never brought out or identified.

None of the 43 detainees is named “Mario Conde."

Health groups and human rights organizations who support the Morong 43 have maintained that the evidence was planted.

In a press briefing on Oct. 14, Aquino declared that based on the review by the Department of Justice, “the review basically stated that there was a person that they (authorities) were going to serve a warrant against."

“That person was not in the resort that was raided. The firearms, in particular, will fall only in a general classification. [The] explosives were not part of the warrant," the President said.

Aquino said that in a talk with PNP Director General Raul Bacalzo, AFP chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo David and a defense undersecretary, he emphasized that the government must be “upholders of the law" and that “evidence wrongly gotten cannot be used, therefore [cases] cannot prosper."

However, he still maintained that he would leave the fate of the 43 to the courts.

Free the Morong 43

In the nine months since the Morong 43 were arrested, there has been a growing clamor of support for the detainees, calling on the authorities to release them immediately, especially following the President’s grant of amnesty to about 300 soldiers charged in court mutiny and other rebellious acts.

The groups who have publicly condemned the arrest and continued detention of the 43 health workers include:

  • The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines;
  • Several former secretaries of the Department of Health, deans and professors from some of country’s premier medical schools, and other prominent personalities;
  • Several lawmakers in the House of Representatives;
  • International rights-oriented organizations

The military has vowed to respect any decision from President Aquino or the courts regarding the possible release of the Morong 43. - DM, GMANews.TV

Friday, November 12, 2010

Illegal arrest, torture is what AFP defines as ‘decisive tactical gain’- Morong 43 kin and supporters

In its recent spin, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said thru its spokesman, Col. Antonio Parlade said that the Morong 43 arrest could have been “a major tactical gain had it not been hurled with malicious allegations..”

Dr. Julie Caguait, spokesperson of the FREE THE 43 HEALTHWORKERS ALLIANCE said that this again shows the intransigence and impunity of the AFP. She said that this is a weak and desperate attempt to deflect the issue, a ploy to digress from the serious violations they have committed.

“If illegal arrest and detention along with torture and denial of human rights are what the military counts as tactical victory, then the public must be warned of more atrocities from the armed forces to come. “ Caguiat said.

Relatives and supporters of the Morong 43 said that military is again harping a laundry list of repeated lies. The group also hits the army’s desperate spin by playing up the army’s professionalism to hide its violations on the Morong 43.

The doctor made the statement after the military recently released an open letter to the public claiming that current armed forces are no long relics of the Martial Law years and that they do conscientiously adhere to professionalism making all the allegations against them as untrue and malicious.

Caguiat said that public cannot be charmed by the AFP’s perversion of professional character. “I don’t think that (professionalism) and atrocities against the 43 health workers can be equated because this is not at all an issue. While the group recognizes that there are principled men in uniform and respectable sections of the armed forces, they said that torture and illegalities are not correct measures of professionalism.”

Moreover, the group said that the military if it is so inclined to call it a propaganda war, anyhow will never win. It has lost credibility as evidenced by the Morong 43’s broad support. The army and the police since day 1 have lied about the health workers’ arrest.

These sentiments against the AFP are not merely allegations but are facts, which the Commission of Human Rights, the Department of Justice and even president himself recognized in his last declaration of the illegalities and by recognizing the arrest and everything about it are considered "fruit of the poisonous tree".

Caguiat said the military will never gain public sympathy and credibility and by so doing neither could they be spared from legal accountabilities in the future. She also said that the AFP cannot be one with the public in its quest for peace, truth and as long as they continue to disrespect human rights.

Reference:
Dr. Julie Caguiat

Spokesperson, FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS ALLIANCE
Mobile: 0909 113 3038 / 0919 486 1580
Telephone: 929 8109 / 881 0910

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bayan Canada Staged Rally infront of the Philippine Embassy

Bayan Canada and supporters of the 43 illegally detained health workers held a rally in front of the Philippine Embassy on November 5, in Canada’s capital, as part of the international day of action. Representatives from the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (OCHRP), and the Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) were also present to join in the world-wide demand for the immediate release for the Morong 43. Building security and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP – or Canada’s federal police force) tried to prevent the rally from happening directly in front of the embassy building but the demonstrators insisted on their right to hold the peaceful protest in front of the building. A delegation was also prevented by the RCMP and building security from going up to the offices of the Philippine Embassy to submit a petition signed by 145 health professionals so the groups insisted that embassy officials come out to meet the demonstrators. Finally the embassy’s Public Relations Officer came down and the petition was submitted.

BAYAN Canada
Press Statement
November 5, 2010

Reference:

Joey Calugay
514-947-3662
jcalugay2@yahoo.ca

Yasmeen Khan
613-558-1625
yazmaryam@hotmail.com

END THE INJUSTICE! FREE THE MORONG 43 NOW!

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Canada [BAYAN Canada] today joins Bayan in the Philippines, people’s organizations and advocates of the Morong 43 in different corners of the globe in calling on President Benigno Aquino III to order the immediate and unconditional release of these health workers who are now in their ninth month of detention. The 43 - that include two doctors, two midwives and a nurse - were arrested on February 6, 2010, on the basis of a defective search warrant issued and on evidence planted by state forces. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Early on in those nine months, some of them were subjected to grueling physical and psychological torture, and various forms of indignity. They were denied legal counsel and family visits in Camp Capinpin, a military prison camp in Tanay, Rizal.

Today, women detainees Judilyn Oliveros and Mercy Castro have already given birth while in detention. Both are under hospital arrest at the Philippine General Hospital. Both mothers have fought for their right to breastfeed their babies. The other health workers are still detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

There is no reason why Aquino cannot direct the justice department to file a motion withdrawing the criminal charges against the 43 before the Morong Regional Trial Court and the Metropolitan Trial Court. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has indicated that her recommendations to President Aquino should lead to the release of the detainees. The President himself has admitted that the search warrant was defective. The courts would then have no choice but to release the 43. And with this simple act, Aquino would have been able to end the injustice done to these community health workers.

Furthermore, the Aquino government granted amnesty to 300 rebel soldiers detained by the Arroyo regime for staging three coup attempts, even before a Makati Trial Court could even decide on the case of one of the rebel officers. Why then can it not order the release of the innocent 43 health workers who want nothing more than bring medical services to the poor?

The Aquino government has always been saying they want to rectify the injustices committed by the Arroyo regime. It is time to right these wrongs. And President Aquino can start by freeing the Morong 43, releasing all political prisoners and addressing all cases of human rights violations committed by state forces.

Free the Morong 43!
Release all political prisoners!
Justice to all victims of state repression!


Preparation for the rally
Downtowm Ottawa
Bayan Orgs from Ottawa and Montreal
Representatives from the Canadian Unions
Doug, of OCHRP
Petition Letter signed by 145 Health Professionals
Ottawa Rally
Police prevents the group from entering the building
Embassy Representative Accepts Petition Letter

The Free the 43 Committee Visits the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver

Vancouver. -- The Free the 43 Committee (B.C. Canada) personally delivered its letter of concern to the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver early this afternoon, November 8, 2010. The Free the 43 Committee was represented by Yvon and Valerie Raoul, both members of the 2010 International Observers Mission to the Philippines, Atty. Gail Davidson, Founder and Executive Director of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Aiyanas Ormond of the Alliance for People's Health and Erie Maestro of the Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights. Vice-Consul Melanie Balisi Diano invited the group to her office, received the letters from the Committee and from Lawyers Rights Watch Canada and promised that the letters would be forwarded to President Aquino.

Aiyanas Ormond said that he and his family personally know Dr. Merry Clamor and Reynaldo Macabenta when they stayed in the Philippines in 2005 and know of the good community and medical service that they do. Valerie and Yvon Raoul shared that they visited the detainees when they went to the Philippines as independent observers of the 2010 National Elections. Atty. Gail Davidson who attended the Conference of Lawyers in the Asia Pacific in September went with other lawyers to visit the Morong 43 and met and talked with the detained health workers. All have been closely monitoring the developments (or lack of progress) in the case of the Morong 43. Lawyers Rights Watch Canada is still waiting for a response from the Philippine Government for the two letters that it had sent out.[ http://www.lrwc.org/letters2.php?aid=335]

"We want the Philippine government to know that the detained health workers have friends in Vancouver who are concerned about their situation and who are committed to helping secure their release," said Yvon Raoul, a retired school teacher and a human rights advocate.

The group specifically made mention of the two nursing mothers, Carina Oliveros and Mercy Castro, and their two new babies who were both born in detention-- and are still waiting for their release.

The Free the 43 Committee's letter comes in the wake of the recent Presidential order of release for some 300 soldiers and officers who were involved in uprisings against the former President Gloria Arroyo.

Vice Consul Deano promised to get back to the group on any feedback on their letter. The group responded in turn that they are willing to meet again with the Consulate General's office to discuss the case of the detained health workers. -30-



8 November 2010

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila, Philippines

Cc:
Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila

Dear Mr. President,

We, the Free the 43 Committee (B.C. Canada), are concerned about the continued detention of the detained 43 health workers who were arrested nine months ago, on February 6, 2010. We are especially worried about the situation of the two nursing mothers, Carina Oliveros and Mercy Castro, and their babies who were born in detention.

As President and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, you have commented that the search warrant used by the arresting military officers and soldiers was defective. The tainted evidence as a result of this defective search warrant and the questionable search process that happened, on which basis the 43 health workers have been charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives surely cannot be used in any court of law. Likewise, the forced confessions obtained by the military from the detainees by the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and other violations of their constitutional, civil and political rights surely cannot be used in any court of law.

We urge your Excellency to take the decisive step and order the Department of Justice, who has already made recommendations on the case of the “Morong 43,” to file a motion before the courts to withdraw these charges. We also ask that the military officers and soldiers responsible for the torture and other violations of human rights of the detainees be held accountable for what they did and are duly punished.

We are aware of your order for the immediate release of some 300 soldiers and officers involved in military uprisings against your predecessor. Can we expect the same decisiveness and the same compassion for the detained health workers, most especially the nursing mothers and their new babies?

We ask that the charges against the “Morong 43” be withdrawn. We ask that the “Morong 43” be immediately and unconditionally released.

We will be monitoring the developments in the case of the detained health workers.


Respectfully yours,

(Sgd.) Yvon Raoul and Valerie Raoul
On behalf of the Free the 43 Committee (B.C. Canada)
1230 East 13th Avenue, Vancouver, BC Canada
Tel: 604.224.3723

(L-R) Erie Maestro, Aiyanas Ormond, Atty. Gail Davidson, Valerie Raoul and Yvon Raoul at the main lobby of the 700 Pender Place where the Consulate General has its office.)
(Letter from the Free the 43 Committee personally delivered and stamp Received by the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver)

International conference in Copenhagen adopts resolution calling for freedom for the Morong 43

A resolution calling for the immediate release from detention of the Morong 43 was unanimously approved by the delegates to the International Conference on Solidarity, Defense and Struggle for Freedom of Political Prisoners in the World, held October 22-24, 2010 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The resolution condemned the illegal arrest, physical and mental torture and continuing unjust detention of the Morong 43, and called for their immediate release, especially the two nursing mothers and their babies delivered under detention. The resolution also called on the Aquino government to stop the alarming extra-judicial killings which include human rights advocates and defenders.

The resolution presented by Atty Remigio “Ming” Saladero Jr. of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement, KMU), was discussed and prepared by the Workshop on the Philippines.

Attorney Saladero Jr and Cesar T. Taguba of BAYAN International-Europe also spoke during the plenary session and shared information regarding the suffering and struggle of political prisoners, on extrajudicial killings and disappearances from the time of the Marcos regime up to the current Benigno Aquino III government.

The conference approved the following proposals of the Philippine delegation: a). Adopt a political prisoner campaign b). Collection and popularization of the poems and songs written and composed by political prisoners and, c). Holding of an internationally coordinated Political Prisoners Day/Week.

The international conference was attended by delegates from Colombia, Palestine, Iran, Kurdistan, Denmark, Basque, Spain, Colombia, Philippine, Turkey and the US. They shared information about the death by torture, execution and massacre of political prisoners and the struggle against the so-called terrorist blacklisting.

The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal was highlighted. The conference delegates condemned the US-instigated “war on terror” and the global crisis as a result of capitalist greed. The conference was initiated by the Danish International Forum (IF).


MIGRANTE Europe
Postbus 15687, 1001 ND Amsterdam

video

ASIAN MEDICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION - PHILIPPINES - Letter to President Aquino

ASIAN MEDICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATION - PHILIPPINES
National Member Organization of Asian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) International
and International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA)



November 9, 2010

H.E. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines

Dear President Aquino,

Last November 6, 2010, members of the Asian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA)-Philippines, an association of socio-civic medical student organizations in the Philippines and national body of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association (IFMSA), joined different health and human rights groups in commemorating the 9th month of illegal arrest and detainment of the 43 health workers known as Morong 43. We were able to visit them in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, and we expressed to them our support in their cause and our aspiration to meet with them again, but this time outside the four walls of prison – a prison which none of them rightly deserve.

Today, we medical students of the Philippines strongly call the Aquino government to order the immediate release of the 43 health workers, who were illegally arrested and mistakenly tagged as rebels, in the previous administration’s pursuit to wipe out the insurgents and to achieve peace in the countryside. But peace cannot be attained without justice, and thus we look forward to your administration in correcting this detestable injustice and ushering our country towards genuine peace.

This atrocious act by the military under the Arroyo administration also posed a grave threat to the future of our people’s health. It cannot be denied that the government failed to provide our people with affordable and available primary health care services. It is health workers such as the Morong 43 who fill this immense health gap with utmost compassion for people and love for country, going to the most far-flung corners of our country, foregoing better opportunities in the metropolis and even abroad, serving the underserved. However, this incident of the Morong 43 could make a negative imprint on our young medical, nursing, and other health care workers who originally wish to stay in the community. Thus, we demand that the government release the 43 and hold the previous administration and the military accountable, as a statement to our youth that this nation will not do this again to health workers whose desire is to protect our people’s right to health.

Finally, the arrest, detainment, and even torture of the Morong 43 are clear violations of fundamental human rights. Thus, we demand that appropriate sanctions be imposed on those responsible for this deplorable act.

We expect real and immediate action from your government on this important health and human rights issue, not tomorrow but now.

For health and justice for all,


Sgd:
Ramon Lorenzo Luis R. Guinto
Co-President, Asian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA)-Philippines
Philippine Representative, International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA)
Doctor of Medicine Class of 2012, University of the Philippines

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Website of group who sponsored Morong 43 training hacked

The website of a health NGO who sponsored the training of the ‘Morong 43’ was hacked recently. Council for Health and Development’s website, a repository of news, features, and publications of community-based health programs and people’s health issues in the Philippines, was attacked by a hacker and added “ZeuS Botnet” – a dangerous malicious application used to commit financial and identity theft against online transaction users.

“The attack on Council for Health and Development’s website is another attempt to harass community-based health programs following the illegal arrest and detention of the Morong 43,” Sr. Edith Eslopor, OSB, chairperson of CHD’s Board of Trustees said.

Council for Health and Development is a non-government organization comprised of more than 50 community-based health programs in the country and one of the groups who sponsored the First Responders’ Health Training in Morong, Rizal where 43 health workers were illegally arrested on February 6 this year.

“Aside from using the group’s website to perform fraudulent schemes and other web-based malicious activities, the hacker has clear intentions of committing illegal activities at the expense of legitimate organizations such as CHD,” Eslopor added.

Eslopor reiterated that their group viewed the hacking as an attempt to discredit CHD’s legitimacy and maliciously taint their credibility to the public. “Whoever is behind this dastardly act will not succeed in dragging our institution into malicious schemes,” she added.

Reference:
Eleanor A. Jara, M.D.

Executive Director, Council for Health and Development
0917 978 9297 / (632) 929 8109

Sunday, November 7, 2010

IFMSA Brazil Statement on Morong 43

International Federation of Medical Students Associations of Brazil
Alameda Santos, n.º 1.800, 8º andar, CJ 8032,
Bairro Cerqueira César, São Paulo/SP
CEP: 01418200| Tel.+ 55 11 3170-­-3251 | presidente@ifmsabrazil.org
www.ifmsabrazil.org | CNPJ 02300156/0001-­-13

Dear Mr. President Benigno Aquino III,

The International Federation of Medical Students Association of Brazil (IFMSA-­-Brazil), as a representative of the International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA) in this nation, which speaks on behalf of more than five hundred medical students, requires the release of 43 health workers in Morong, that have been detained in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, without respect to their legal rights and under torture.

Medical doctors, nurses, and community health workers, who had already worked within several communities in Far-­-Flung provinces of Philippines as well as Morong, were attending a training organized by the Community Medicine Foundation. The health workers were only helping people and providing them a bit of dignity. On February 6th 2010, though, the Armed Forces of the Philippines have had them handcuffed, blindfolded and held in isolation for days, without even considering their legal and human rights.

As the days followed, representatives from the government’s Commission on Human Rights were even denied entry to the camp where the detainees were kept the following day. The refusal to honor the order of the Supreme Court is an absurd, as well as a classic manifestation of impunity that no human being should suffer.

“The only weapon that a health worker carries with him in the so-­-called battlefield is the stethoscope for the doctor, the sphygmomanometer for the nurses and the cotton balls for the other community health workers, and their only common enemy is the disease that threatens the community,” said Dr. Bu C. Castro, spokesman of the Philippine Medical Association and president of the Alliance of All Health Organizations of the Nation, statement that, we, Brazilian medical students here represented by IFMSA-­-Brazil, truly believe and pursuit as a goal for our medical careers. This is our strong statement. We believe in the proficiency of Aquino Government, its righteousness and political power based on social peace promotion, and caring for the majority well being of your Philippines people.

Moreover, aware of Philippines' government subscription under The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we expect urgent measures and vigorous actions over on the release of 43 health workers.

Sincerely,

Caio Augusto Prearo Pelosi
President of IFMSA Brazil

Cinthia Jaqueline Baia de Souza
National Officer on Human Rights and Peace -­- IFMSA Brazil

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Protests, police blockade mark 9th month in detention of Morong43

By Renato Reyes, Jr

Supporters and relatives of the Morong 43 today held a caravan to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan to visit the detained health workers and call for their immediate release. Some 40 vehicles joined the motorcade which started from Quezon Memorial Circle at around 8am. The Philippine caravan coincided with actions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ottawa and Vancouver, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Netherlands and New Zealand.

Upon reaching Camp Bagong Diwa, the supporters of the 43 were surprised by the blockade conducted by the police belonging to the NCRPO. Earlier, church groups were also prevented entry. The church groups included a Protestant bishop and Catholic nuns.

As I approached the officer at the gate, I noticed the sign posted on the railings: RED ALERT, it said. The whole camp was placed on RED ALERT probably due to the recent travel advisories on “terrorism”. There were scores of policemen at the gates and the entry of vehicles was restricted.

We told the officers at the gate that we had been given a permit by the BJMP to hold a religious service inside and visit to the Morong 43 detainees. Camp Bagong Diwa is the headquarters of the PNP’s NCRPO but inside is also the BJMP compound for detainees.

The officers of the NCRPO refused to recognize the permit given by the BJMP. For more than an hour, they refused us entry, citing no clear reason (it’s like we were some sort of terror threat to them). The camp commander, a certain Gen. Regis, refused to meet us despite repeated requests.

I told the officers at the gate that I had personally informed NCRPO chief Gen. Nicanor Bartolome who was in Washington at the time that we would be arriving today. Gen. Bartolome texted that he will be informing his deputy, a certain Gen. Regis.

The PNP would not budge and showed no interest in accommodating the visitors despite a BJMP permit. This forced the participants of the caravan to block the gates of Camp Bagong Diwa. Shouts of “FREE THE 43” were soon heard in Bicutan. Placards and pictures of the detained health workers were raised at the gates of the police camp.

Since the PNP was already on red alert, they were immediately able to deploy about probably two platoons of anti-riot police to block the protesters. Tension ensued. The supporters of the 43 felt truly insulted by the response of the PNP. The PNP began pushing the protesters back, who in turn pushed back at the PNP.

The tension was only resolved when the protesters gave way to vehicles who were exiting Camp Bagong Diwa. At that point, the PNP still had no clear answers as to why they were blocking the Morong visitors.

We were being given a lot of bureaucratic crap. After some time, the warden of the BJMP facility came out to meet us and explained the limited space for visitors inside the detention facility. He said it would be best to visit by batches of 25. We agreed with the assurance that all those who wanted to visit will be accommodated.

We boarded the BJMP vehicle together with past and present partylist representatives, members of human rights groups and the health sector. We were brought to the compound for male detainees. We were able to enter without any incidence.

Since visits would be conducted by batches, we decided to make our visit short to be able to accommodate the other visitors. We had a short program and the visitors gave their solidarity messages. Ka Satur Ocampo called on the detainees to be steadfast, saying that he himself was detained for nine years during martial law.

We then proceeded to visit the female detainees. They were happy to see us. They had watched the blockade and tension at the gates, live on TV, in a flash report.

We were joined by directors Bibeth Orteza and Carlitos Siguion-Reyna and artist Kiri Dalena. The female detainees were in their usual high spirits, singing Martsa ng Bayan and given a very emotional interpretation of a Joi Barrios on desaparecidos. The poem moved Bibeth to tears, as it had been part of the “Mrs. B” monologue wherein Bibeth played Mrs. Burgos, mother of the missing Jonas.

The detainees then sang happy birthday to Carlitos. The meeting was short but you could see from the faces of the detainees that they were agitated and they believed that our struggle outside prison will set them free. Malen Serrato, a schoolmate from UP and member of the Center for Nationalist Studies, told the visitors that they may be imprisoned physically but their minds and hearts were free.

We went back to the gates of Bagong Diwa to find the relatives lined up waiting for their turn to visit. The relatives were brought to the detention facility but were brought back to the gates. This incensed the relatives because no explanation was given why they were being brought back. The PNP later explained that there had been some miscommunication or lapses and that they merely wanted the process to be followed. One officer, a certain Col. Mabanag even threatened the relatives that they will all be arrested if they staged a rally inside Camp Bagong Diwa. Yes, this jerk was issuing threats for incidents that have no basis whatsoever.

I left Camp Bagong Diwa after the PNP confirmed that the relatives would be allowed to visit the detainees. We were exhausted for some reason but we left also in high spirits.

One visitor remarked: “Baligtad pala dito. Pag dalaw mo, akala mo ikaw ang manga-agit sa kanila (detainees). Yun pala, sila ang manga-agit sa iyo.”

So true.

Our struggle continues until the 43 are free.

See Video >>>

24 Oras: Morong 43 Sympathizers face off with police at camp bagong diwa gate


For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

International Day of Action to Free the Morong 43!

(HKCAHRPP) calls on President Benigno Aquino III to make right the injustice committed against the Morong 43


The Hong Kong Campaign for Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP) calls on President Benigno Aquino III to make right the injustice committed against the Morong 43. The arrest, torture and continuing detention of the Morong 43 is a travesty of justice. They should be immediately released and the perpetrators of their unjust incarceration punished.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Morong 43 group to P-Noy: do the right thing now

Free the 43 Health Workers! Alliance trooped to Malacañang again today to seek a dialogue with the President himself to order the release of the Morong 43 following his declaration that evidences against the health workers were wrongly gotten.

Relatives, supporters, and representatives from the health sector once again knocked on the doors of the Palace to ask the President to stop dilly-dallying with the case and let justice commence by withdrawing all cases against the 43.

“We will not tire on knocking on the doors of the President’s office until he hears our plea. Every day that the health workers spend in jail is a day of injustice,” Dr. Julie P. Caguiat said.

It is very ironic that as President Aquino joins other world leaders in calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, a pro-democracy political icon that sought to counter the military junta in Myanmar, he is mum on the continuing human rights violations reeking in his very country, the group said.

She added that Malacañang’s lack of time frame to concretely act on the case is very disappointing. “Mr. Aquino should walk the talk and not limit himself to lip service. If indeed he wants to correct the errors committed against the 43, what or who is holding him from acting on the case immediately?” Dr. Caguiat expressed.

Ordering the withdrawal of all cases against the Morong 43 is within the President’s authority, the group said. They added that by doing so, the courts can consequently order for the detainees’ release. “By freeing the Morong 43 and all political prisoners in the country, President Aquino can prove that he is indeed different from his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” the group concluded.##

References:
Dr. Julie Caguiat
Spokesperson, 0909 113 3038


Philip Paraan
Media Officer, 0919 486 1580

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Lawyers Rights Watch Canada seeks immediate release of “Morong 43”

Monday, November 1, 2010

What is preventing President Aquino to order the release of the Morong 43?

Joint Statement of Migrante chapters in the Middle-East and the OFWs Muslim-Christian Alliance for Justice and Peace in the Philippines [MCA-JPP]

Migrante chapters in the Middle East and the Saudi-based coalition of OFW Muslims and Christians advocates for Justice and Peace in the Philippines (MCA-JPP), join the calls of various sectors in the Philippines as well as of different international human rights organizations abroad, for Pres. Aquino to immediately release the Morong 43 who have been illegally detained since February 6.

The 43 health workers who are conducting community health trainings at the farmhouse of UP College of Medicine Professor Dr. Melecia Velmonte have been raided by the elements of the 202 Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and thereafter charged them of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

November 6 marks the 9th month in detention of the 43 health workers.

Human rights lawyers and legal luminaries believed that the manner of the arrest and the filling of trumped up charges against the 43 health workers showed gross violations of the constitutional rights of the 43 against illegal arrest and detention.

In fact, the Philippine Justice department Secretary had already made her recommendation after the President himself asked her to review the case of the Morong 43, months ago. Justice Secretary Leila De Lima has indicated that her recommendation will lead to the release of the 43 health workers.

Even the President had also said during a press conference that the search warrant is defective, but he is quick to add that the 43 health workers release will have to be sanctioned by the courts.

Now we asked what is preventing the President to issue an order for the immediate and unconditional release of the Morong 43? He could instruct the Justice department to file a motion to withdraw the cases filed against the 43, which are fabricated charges anyway!”

It seems, indicative of the actuations of the President, he is not willing to act on the case of the 43 health workers despite that he has the mandate to implement and defend the Constitutional provisions guaranteed in the 'Bill of Rights' especially if it is to correct a mistake committed by any Executive branch agency, personnel or the AFP itself under his command.

Or he is still awaiting the “green light” from its US-imperialist master in its continued adherence to US “war on terror” and counter-insurgency policy especially that the 43 health workers have been wrongly accused by the AFP of being members of the New Peoples Army?

If the President is looking for political gains out of political concessions just like what he had done in granting amnesty to about 400 military coup plotters, then he is acting on his own and his administration's interests and not of the people, not of the 43 health workers and other political prisoners.

The President should be reminded of the ‘democratic ideals and aspirations’ his parents stood for, and he should realize that and move to order the immediate and unconditional release of the Morong 43 and all political prisoners in the country who have been victim of fabricated charges.

Migrante chapters in the Middle East and the OFWs Muslim-Christian Alliance in Saudi Arabia will simultaneously hold their respective press conferences and indoor protests starting from November 2 to 6, coinciding the 9th month in detention of the 43 health workers and the BAYAN-led internationally coordinated action, to press hard the Aquino govt. to effect the immediate and unconditional release of the Morong 43.


-Migrante chapters in the Middle East and the OFWs Muslim-Christian Alliance for Justice and Peace (MCA-JPP)

Reference:
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator
Convenor, OFWs Muslim-Christian Alliance for Justice and Peace in the Philippines
Mobile No.: 00966 564 978 012
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