Wednesday, September 4, 2013

CA to confirm promotion of military official who led the illegal arrest, detention and torture of Morong 43

The man who headed the arresting team that brought the health workers to their worst nightmares is now up for promotion. Col. Aurelio Baladad, head of the arresting team that President Aquino himself said “denied (the Morong 43) due process” is asking the Committee on Appointments that his promotion be confirmed.

The Morong 43, relatives and supporters troop to the gates of the Senate of the Philippines at 9:00 this morning to oppose the re-appointment of BGen. Aurelio Baladad because of his questionable integrity and moral fitness to assume the post he is being promoted to.

Dr. Montes said that the Morong 43 will present before the Commission on Appointments (CA) “not to establish the criminal or civil liability of Col. Baladad” but to question the military officer’s “integrity and moral fitness” to the position he is being appointed to. Dr. Montes furthered that PNoy himself acknowledged the fact in December 10, 2013 that the Morong 43’s right to due process was violated when he declared that the illegal arrest and detention of the health workers was a “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Hence, the Morong 43 should be set free.

A position that entails so much responsibility and demands utmost respect for human rights should not be entrusted to someone like Col. Baladad who is facing serious charges of human rights violations. If President Aquino has forgotten what he himself has previously acknowledged – that our human rights were violated- we have not. We are asking the Honorable Commitee not to forget as well. We are asking the Honorable Committee to DENY/WITHHOLD THE CONFIRMATION of Col. Baladad,” Dr. Montes’ statement further read.

Dr. Montes is one of the 43 health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal on February 6, 2010 and have been collectively referred to as the “Morong 43”. On the basis of a void search warrant, members of the 202nd Brigade raided the training house owned by an esteemed infectious disease specialist where they were having a “First Responders’ Training.” Like the rest of the Morong 43, he was blindfolded upon their arrest, boarded into a truck and brought to what later turned out to be Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. For 36 straight hours from the time of their rest, they were kept continuously blindfolded while being subjected to alternating episodes of intense interrogation, verbal abuse, threats to their persons and family and physical abuse including electrocution.

For several days, they were subjected to these forms of physical and psychological torture while they denied access to any member of their family and legal counsel.

After ten (10) months of detention, the criminal charges against the health workers were withdrawn paving the way for their freedom. President Aquino himself ordered the withdrawal of the charges against them. In his speech on December 10, 2010 – International Human Rights Day, President Aquino acknowledged that the Morong 43 "was denied due process."##


Opisyal na militar na namuno sa illegal sa pag-aresto, tortyur at pagkulong sa Morong 43 mapo-promote

Ang opisyal ng militar na nagdala sa 43 manggagawang pangkalusugan sa kanilang pinakamasamang bangungot ay kukumpirmahin ngayon para sa kanyang promosyon. Si Col. Aurelio Baladad, pinuno ng arresting team na tinukoy ni Pangulong Aquino noon na “nagkait (sa Morong 43) ng due process” ay humihiling sa Commission on Appointments na kumpirmahin ang kanyang promosyon.

Ang Morong 43, mga kaanak at taga-suporta ay pupunta sa Senado ngyaong ika-9:00 ng umaga upang tutulan ang re-appointment ni Col. Aurelio Baladad dahil sa kanyang kwestyonableng moralidad at integridad para sa posisyong pagtatalagahan sa kanya.

Sinabi ni Dr. Alex Montes na ang kanilang grupo ay haharap sa Commission on Appointments hindi upang ilahad ang “criminal o civil liability” ni Col. Baladad. Haharap sila upang kwestyunin ang “integridad at moralidad” ni Baladad para sa posisyong hinihingi niya. Sabi pa ni Dr. Montes, kinilala mismo ni Pangulong Aquino na ang pa-aresto at pagkulong sa kanila noong 2010 ay labag sa “due process” at ito ay “bunga ng nakalalasong puno.”

Ayon sa pahayag na babasahin ni Dr. Montes sa Commission on Appointments, “ang isang posisyon na napakalaki ng responsibilidad at respeto sa karapatang pantao ay hindi dapat ipagkatiwala sa isang taong gaya ni Col. Baladad na humaharap sa mga kaso ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao. Kung nakalimutan na ni Pangulong Aquino ang kanyang mga binitawang salita noong 2010 hinggil sa aming illegal na pagkakaaresto, kami ay hindi nakakalimot. Hinihikayat din namin na ang komiteng ito ay huwag ding makalimot sa kasaysayan. Hinihingi naming ipagkait ng komiteng ito ang kumpirmasyon sa promosyon ni Col. Baladad.”


Dr. Alex S. Montes

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rehashed claims of Military that Morong 43 are NPAs: WHEN WAS TORTURE EVER JUSTIFIED?

Like a ghoulish ritual for the carcass of the dead, the military once again would resuscitate its long discredited claim that our clients, the Morong 43 Health Workers, are members of the underground New People's Army.

Jumping on another opportunity to peddle this storyline - quite inherently contradictory most of the time - they now claim that one of those killed in an encounter weeks ago was in fact a former member of the Morong 43 who were illegally arrested, searched, detained and tortured more than 3 years ago.

It now claims that most of our clients "have returned to the hills" even as it concedes that a number of them have "continued" to be members of "progressive organizations." It confirms that our clients - especially those who are visible in rallies and public places or events or who chose to file cases against them and whom they stalk to this very day - continue to engage in health services.

As for the all the rest that are less visible or who chose to keep a low profile if not a "quiet" life after their horrific ordeal for 10 months, the military automatically claims are again NPAs. Except of course a select few of them that they have spoiled and are living it up as their glorified slaves.

If the military cannot keep its facts straight, at least -if it has time- it should review its math. Even their convoluted figures do not literally add up.

As for Ramon dela Cruz who was reportedly killed in an alleged encounter, the belated claim that he is an NPA and the same person as the namesake of a former member of the Morong 43 is grounded on questionable bases and circumstances.

The comparison with his supposed mugshots and the similarity of the names of his supposed parents that he allegedly disclosed while under extreme and hostile interrogation in isolated detention is at best self-serving and at worse contrived if not malicious. And it does not help one bit that those who purportedly corroborated his identity as an NPA were most probably the usual roving mad dogs and itinerant professional "rebel returnees."

And what if he was? On the supposition which cannot be independently established that he became an NPA after he was released, as far as his basic human rights were concerned, so what?

While we as lawyers are absolutely positive that our clients were not members of the NPA at the time the incident of illegal arrest happened, we are not privy into the minds and daily lives of each and every single clients of ours after our legal engagement. We are incompetent and would be pretentious to judge them in whatever choices or options they subsequently take.

Yet we would be the least surprised as counsels who have known their torment up close that they are simply frustrated or have just had enough of a system that has betrayed them, with their pending cases they had filed personally and in constructive representation of others to seek justice in the Supreme Court, the Ombudsman, the Regional Trial Court and the Commission on Human Rights still in outstanding limbo after all these years.

We have to remember these people who just wanted to help the poor and those in need went through horrendous psychological and even physical torture, not to mention illegal arrest, search, detention and denial of counsel. The arguable supposition that one of them became an NPA more than 3 years afterwards does not make those violations right, much less make those liable for such violations immaculate.

Otherwise, we would accept the strained fallacy as follows:
  1. the military claims the Morong 43 are NPAs,
  2. there were violations of their rights including torture,
  3. the Morong 43 deny that they are NPAs but are community health workers,
  4. the killing of one of them supposedly confirmed he was an NPA,
  5. all of the Morong 43 were therefore NPAs all along, and
  6. Ergo, the torture and rights violations are proven justified and it is alright to have tortured them after all.
While checking on its arithmetic, it would also do well for the military and those who want to get away with impunity -again if they have time- to review their logic if not their sense of right and wrong.

Indeed, when was torture by anybody on anyone at anytime and in any place and under any circumstance ever justified? #

Edre U. Olalia
Secretary General - National Union of People's Lawyers [NUPL]
0917 511 3373

Friday, August 23, 2013

Maj. Gen. Irriberi is a tireless parrot recycling old lies

Maj. Gen. Hernando Irriberi should speak against the massive corruption hounding the pork barrel instead of recycling old lies and selling fruits of a poisonous tree.

This is the reaction of Dr. Alex Montes, spokesperson of the Justice for the Morong 43! Justice for All Victims of Human Rights! Alliance. Dr. Montes, a medical doctor serving communities since he graduated from medical school, echoed that their group is outraged by Maj. Gen. Irriberi’s statement linking a slain New People’s Army combatant to the identities of the Morong 43. He was identified by the 7th Infantry Division based in Bulacan named as Ramon dela Cruz.

The Morong 43 are not members of the New People’s Army. We are health professionals and Community Health Workers serving tirelessly in the farthest recesses of the nation that are neglected by our government,” he said.

Clearly, the military is resurrecting old lies to use as credit for their promotion and discredit the human rights cases filed against them by the Morong 43.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is also very much guilty in the massive corruption associated with the pork, the Morong 43 Alliance said.

This malicious report will not dampen our spirits in fighting for justice that is due. We will fight until the very end until the last of the human rights violators in our case is put to jail,” Montes said.

The group challenged Irriberi to “make their salaries from tax payers’ money worthwhile by purging corrupt officials within their ranks and stop peddling lies to the public.

The Morong 43 was released after ten months of torture and illegal detention in 2010 after the government was pressured by national and international people’s organizations and eminent individuals. PNoy and the Department of Justice withdrew the charges based on the doctrine of the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” The doctrine meant that any charges filed against anybody will not hold water if the manner of arrest or gathering of evidence is illegal or did not follow the legal prescriptions.##

References: Dr. Alex S. Montes
0927-9259413 | (02)929-8109

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Morong 43 not surprised on Brig. Gen. Baladad's promotion, says PNoy rewards military for human rights violations

PNoy has set a new mileage in his administration – promoting human rights violators swiftly and regularly.

This was the reaction made by the Justice for the Morong 43! Justice for All Victims of Human Rights Violations! alliance upon learning of Baladad’s appointment as new head of the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division that holds jurisdiction of the entire Western Visayas.

We are not surprised that Gen. Baladad was promoted because the Aquino administration obviously rewards instead of punishes human rights violators such as Gen. Baladad,” says Dr. Alex Montes, spokesperson of the Morong 43 alliance.

Baladad will replace retired Major General Jose Mabanta who stepped down from his position on June 19.

Dr. Montes comments that Baladad should not have been promoted because of pending cases slapped against him, CGMA, and other high military and police officials by members of the Morong 43.

The doctor says that the Morong 43 and its alliance will fight for justice until every single perpetrator of the crime against their human rights is brought to justice.


Dr. Alex S. Montes
0927-9259413 | 929-8109

Friday, June 28, 2013

Morong 43 to Quezon City court: Resist the delaying tactics of GMA camp, practice impartiality

GMA and her camp are once again derailing the wheels of justice and the presiding judge on the Morong 43 civil case is aiding them.

The Morong 43 health workers and their relatives decried GMA’s camp dilatory tactics and the submission to them by the sala of Judge Afable Cajigal in today’s filing of an Ominibus Motion for pre-trial and inhibition. “By not calling for the pre-trial conference, the judge, in effect, becomes an accomplice to the injustice staged by these human rights violators against the Morong 43, “ said Dr. Alex Montes, spokesperson of the Justice for the Morong 43! Justice for All Victims of Human Rights Violations! alliance.

The health workers also called for the judge to inhibit himself from hearing the case.

Dr. Montes added that they have lost confidence on Judge Cajigal’s capacity to render a just decision because he failed to prove his impartiality to the case by granting the Motion to Suspend Proceedings filed by GMA and other respondents on January 30, 2013. Four (4) months have passed and the judge has not lifted a finger to revisit the case and call for a single hearing, the doctor lamented.

In their motion, the Morong 43’s legal counsels said that the court can, “take judicial notice of the fact that no temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction is issued by the Court of Appeals to restrain or enjoin this Honorable Court from hearing this case.” Therefore, Judge Cajigal should have proceeded with the case, Dr. Montes said.

Dr. Montes furthered that their group’s resolve to bring justice to their case and others similar to theirs will not be weakened by any tactics employed by GMA and a biased judge.##

Dr. Alex S. Montes
0927-9259413 | 929-8109

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Morong 43 health workers deplores GMA and her Military cohorts’ Delaying Tactics

Render Swift Justice, Convict GMA and her military cohorts for their human rights abuses!

This remains the battle cry of the Morong 43 in their pre-trial conference today at the Branch 96 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court for the Civil Case No. Q-11-69171. Amidst dilatory tactics by the defendants to delay the trial of the civil case, the group reiterated calls for Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her top military and police officials’ conviction on the rights abuses they committed against the Morong 43 health workers in 2010.

On January 24, 2013 lawyers of GMA submitted petition seeking for the court’s suspension of the pre-trial conference. In a related case, the defendants filed a petition to stop the hearing of the criminal case filed by the Morong 43 at the Ombudsman citing as reason the on-going civil case filed at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. Both petitions were denied.

We are aghast with GMA and her cohorts’ legal manoeuvring to delay our quest for justice. Unfailingly, they have been filing motions after motions, petitions after petitions to derail the trial process . It has been nearly two years since we filed the civil case in April 2011 and until now, the case is still in its pre-trial stage,” laments Dr. Alex Montes, one of the Morong 43 and plaintiffs in the P15 million civil suit against the former president.

The Morong 43 through their lawyers will submit for the pre-trial conference their brief statement of claims and defenses, affidavits and documentary evidence.

We want GMA and her cohorts to pay for their human rights abuses. We hope that formal hearings for the case will commence after today’s pre-trial meeting. We call on Judge Afable Cajigal and the Ombudsman to resist the delaying tactics being employed by the defendants to derail the trial,” said Dr. Montes. “We remain resolute to push on with this case until we claim justice for ourselves and other victims of human rights abuses,” added Dr. Montes. ###

The Justice for Morong 43, Justice for All Victims of Human Rights Violations holds support picket during the preliminary trial conference of the Civil Case No. Q-11 69191 against GMA et al.
The group denounces GMA group's dilatory tactics and calls for a speedy resolution of the case.

Morong 43: Inangilan ang Delaying Tactics ni GMA at mga Alipores na Militar

“Tiyakin ang mabilis na Hustisya, Panagutin sina GMA at mga alipores na militar sa pag-abuso sa karapatang pantao!”

Ito ang nananating sigaw ng Morong 43 sa pre-trial conference na nakatakda ngayong araw sa Branch 96 ng Quezon City Regional Trial Court para sa isinampang Civil Case No. Q-11-69171. Sa harap ng mga taktika para patagalin ang paglilitis ng kasong sibil, muling inihahayag ng grupo ang panawagan nitong panagutan si Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at ang kanyang mataas na opisyal ng pulis at militar sa mga pag-abuso sa mga karapatan ng mga manggagawang pangkalusugan noong 2010.

Noong Enero 24, 2013 nagsumite ng petisyon sa korte ang mga abugado ni GMA et al para suspendihin ang pre-trial conference. Sa kaugnay na kaso, ang mga nasasakdal ay naghain rin ng petition para ipahinto ang pagdinig sa kasong kriminal na isinampa ng Morong 43 sa Ombudsman sa kadahilanang mayroon pa raw kasong sibil na kasalukuyang nakasampa sa Quezon City Regional Trial Court. Ang parehong petisyon ay tinanggihan ng korte at Ombudsman.

Namumuhi kami sa pagmamaniobra ni GMA at ng kanyang mga alipores para harangin ang aming paghahanap ng hustisya. Walang palya ang kanilang pagsasampa ng mosyon at petisyon upang patagalin ang proseso ng paglilitis. Magdadalawang taon mula noong isampa naming ang kasong sibil noong Abril 2011 at magpahanggang ngayon ang kaso ay nanatiling nasa pre-trial stage pa rin,” paghihinagpis ni Dr. Alex Montes, isa sa Morong 43 na nagsampa ng P15 milyong kasong sibil laban sa dating pangulo.

Nakatakdang isumite ng Morong 43 para sa pre-trial conference ang kanilang maikling pahayag tungkol sa claim at depensa, affidavit at mga ebidensya.

Nais naming managot sina GMA sa pag-abuso nila sa karapatang pantao. Umaasa kami na magtutuluy-tuloy na ang paglilitis matapos ang pre-trial meeting ngayong araw. Nanawagan kami kay Judge Afable Cajigal at sa Ombudsman na tanggihan ang mga ginagawang delaying tactics ng mga nasasasakdal para patagalin ang kaso.” saad niDr. Montes.

Mananatili kaming matatag sa pagsuluong ng kasong ito hanggang sa makamtan namin ang hustisya para sa aming sarili at para sa lahat ng mga biktima ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao,” dagdag ni Dr. Montes. ###


Dr. Alex S. Montes
0927-9259413 | 929-8109