Thursday, January 23, 2014

Morong 43 still fighting for justice, decry continuing military harassment to kin

(Manila, Philippines) -- After three long years, the Morong 43 are still fighting for justice and seeking accountability for the grave human rights violations made by Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and her cohorts for ten months in 2010.

Members of the Morong 43, relatives and supporters together with the Justice for the Morong 43! Justice for All Victims of Human Rights Violations! Alliance troop today to Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QCRTC) to submit their “pre-trial brief of claims and defenses” to the court’s Branch 96 for their Civil Case No. Q11-69171.

Dr. Alex S. Montes, physician and spokesperson of the Morong 43 health workers said the cases they filed against GMA and state force officials “have not moved significantly” three years after they filed it in court. “This shows the Aquino administration’s non-committal to the immediate attainment of justice for victims of human rights violations,” he said.

Six of the Morong 43 filed a P15 million civil suit on April 2011 against GMA, et. al for the illegal arrest, detention and torture which were carried out and committed against them on February 6, 2010 until they were released on December 17 of same year.

According to the Justice for the Morong 43 Alliance, while justice is not moving, “military harassments on members of the Morong 43 continue like Dr. Montes and his family". The Alliance cited a certain “Espartinez”, a United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) military chaplain as among those who continuously spread lies and intrigues against him and his colleagues in the First Responders’ Health Skills Training in Morong. Espartinez never stopped sending him various reading materials through mail since they were freed from prison in December 2010, he shared. The military chaplain even went as far as distributing fliers to UCCP members after a church service last Sunday, January 19, where he and his family attend mass, about a so-called “Morong 43 member” who was ambushed by the military at Bulacan in August last year. Suspicious looking men were also observed outside their house prior to today’s submission of pre-trial brief.

Military agents are working round the clock in a futile effort to discredit the Morong 43 and say we are members of the New People’s Army to justify the torture and illegal detention we suffered in the hands of the military,” Dr. Montes said.

He said such actions are “clear forms of harassment” in an attempt to threaten them against pushing forward with their cases against GMA and other leading police and military officials who are still “pulling the strings in key government positions.”

“They failed to break our spirits in prison, they will fail again. Our commitment to serve the poor and fight all forms of injustice is what keeps us grounded and steadfast in our cause. This is our contribution to the Filipino people’s struggle to break the culture of impunity and fail the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan,” he concluded.

Dr. Montes is among scores of volunteer doctors who immediately went to Samar and Leyte to render free medical and surgical services to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. He and his colleagues continue medical mission and rehabilitation work in Eastern and Western Samar.##