__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

The illegal is legal,

says the Court of Appeals,  invoking a Martial law doctrine

to junk the Morong  43 petition for habeas corpus

 

 

March 12,  2008

 

           

 

 

   

Atty Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center

March 10 press conference on the CA decision on Morong 43

Photo by KODAO Production

UP Prof. Antonio Tinio, chair of Alliance of Concerned Teachers, at Camp Capinpin

Photo by DJ Acierto. KARAPATAN

 

 

Gabriela Rep Luz Ilagan at the March 10 picket denouncing the CA decision junking the HC peittion

Photo from Facebook account of Renato Reyes

 

 

The Court of Appeals junking of the habeas corpus petition filed by the 43 health workers bolsters my most dreaded word these days: impunity.

Using the martial law doctrine Ilagan v Enrile, the CA has only emboldened the police and military to arrest persons using defective search warrants, to plant evidence, to subject detainees to humiliating conditions, to force detainees, through threats and bribes, into confessing they are NPA rebels. To my mind, the CA decision is no different from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promoting notorious violators of human rights within the ranks of the military.

 

--- Len Olea, Bulatlat

 

/p

/p
           

 

Media Release

10 March 2010

 

“Appeals Court is Perpetuating Injustice Using Marcos-Era Doctrine”

 

Health Alliance for Democracy deplored the Court of Appeals’ decision to dismiss the petition for habeas corpus filed on behalf of the 43 illegally detained health workers.   

 

“Justice is not served today. It is unfortunate that the expanded second division of the Court of Appeals chose to hark back to a Marcos-era doctrine to justify the unjustifiable,” declared Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General.

 

Dr. Rivera is referring to the Ilagan Doctrine, which seems to have been the basis of the decision. The doctrine, based on a 1985 Supreme Court decision, renders a habeas corpus petition “moot and academic” once a case is filed in court. 

 

However, the health group is unconvinced.

 

“The Court of Appeals is not only perpetuating injustice, it is undermining ‘sacred constitutional rights’ by using a doctrine that legalized the abuses of the military during the Marcos dictatorship. It (CA) is now condoning the contemptuous disregard for due process and human rights of Arroyo’s state security forces.” 

 

HEAD also questioned specific presumptions of the decision.

 

“What ‘reason of some supervening event’ can the CA justices cite in this instance, save perhaps the planted evidence and torture perpetrated by the military to substantiate its claims? What ‘virtue of a valid court process’ is being cited here, when even the Commission on Human Rights regards the inquest proceedings made by state prosecutors as dubious because of the lack of legal counsel for the accused?”  

 

The health group learned that two of the three-member CA second division, Justices Normandie Pizarro and Francisco Acosta, favored the health workers’ petition. Unfortunately, the division was expanded and the two additional CA justices went against the petition.   

 

“What remedy can the CA now propose, when the cases filed in the lower courts are themselves founded on questionable bases? How can citizens expect to find justice when the courts themselves condone the violation of due process and the presumption of innocence?” added Dr. Rivera.   

 

Quoting former Supreme Court justice Claudio Teehankee in his dissenting opinion on the Ilagan case, HEAD believes that the criminal cases filed against the health workers are “railroaded proceedings” patently void because they have been “issued without jurisdiction under the well-settled rule that ‘a violation of a constitutional right divests the court of jurisdiction; and as a consequence its judgment [or order] is null and void and confers no rights.’”

 

As for the next step, the health group is seeking to elevate the issue to the Supreme Court. At the same time, they are reiterating their demand for the transfer of the health workers to Camp Crame, to prevent further torture at the hands of the military.

 

“Our quest for justice is not over. We will not stop until all 43 health workers are free!” concluded Dr. Rivera. #### 

 
References:
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712
 
Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700

 

-----------------------------------------------------

 

Download:

 

■    CA decision HX Moeonf 32

■    CHR order on Morong 43

■    CHR statement on CA decision

■    Primer on the illegal arrest and detention and torture of Morong 43

 
     
 
 
   1
           
           

 

Tula ni Ofelua Beltran Balleta


Si Ka Ofel, isa sa mga anak ng yumaong dakilang lider-manggagawa na si Crispin " Ka Bel" Beltran, ay ina ni Jane Balleta, isa sa 43 manggagawang pangkalusugan na iligal na inaresto noong Pebrero 6, 2010 at hanggang sa ngayon ay hawak pa rin ng mga militar sa Camp Capinpin sa Tanay, Rizal.
 

Mula nang dinakip ang kanyang anak at mga kasamahan nito, halos araw-araw pumupunta si Ka Ofel kasama ng iba pang magulang at kaanak sa Camp Capinpn.



**************************************

Sampaloc

Nakakabigla ang balita!
Sa simula pa lang alam kong kasama ka
Sa mga inaresto.
Umiyak ako... niyakap ko ang anak mo...
Sana ay mali ang kaba sa dibdib ko.
Magkaganu'n pa man, hindi ako magpapabaya
Hanggang ikaw ay lumaya.

Hindi ko alam ang unang hakbang, hangad ko
ay makita ka agad.
Kasama ko ang ibang magulang, asawa, anak,
kapatid at kaanak,
Taglay ang paniwala na dakila kayong
nagseserbisyo sa kapwa,
Hindi dapat hadlangan at sa rehas masadlak!

 

 

 

 

 

Araw-araw, malayo man ang biyahe,
Di namin alintana, marating lang ang Tanay.
Mahahabang oras man ang hintayan,
Ilang pondohan man ang aming tigilan,
Maraming logbook man ang aming pirmahan,
Balewala yun, makita... mayakap ka lamang.
May lungkot at saya, dulot ng bawat dalaw.
Iba pa ang kimkim na galit dito sa aming dibdib.

Matapos maihayag inyong mga karanasan,
Pagmamalupit at paglapastangan sa
inyong mga karapatan,
Kakapit-bisig namin ngayon ang buong sambayanan,
Sa bawat sulok ng bansa, sa lahat ng panig ng mundo,
Aming isinisigaw
KATARUNGAN at KALAYAAN sa apatnapu at tatlong (43)
Manggagawang pangkalusugan!

-- Ofel Beltran-Balleta
March 9, 2010

 

==========================

 
Ofel Beltran-Balleta

Ofel Beltran-Balleta sa loob ng 33 days ng paroo't parito sa Tanay, nabuo ko ang tulang ito. Pinamagatan ko itong SAMPALOC. The place in Tanay where Camp Capinpin is located. Bgy. Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal. Sana, sa mga susunod na araw ay mailipat na sila sa Camp Crame, habang inilalaban natin ang kanilang walang pasubaling paglaya. Free, Free, Free the 43!

 

     
           
    2

 

Free the 43 Health Workers
35 Examiner Street, West Triangle Homes, Quezon City, Philippines 1104
Telefax: (+632) 929-8109 Email: chdmancom@gmail.com / headphil@gmail.com
Blog: http://freethehealthworkers.blogspot.com/


Petition Online: http://www.petitiononline.com/FreeD43/petition.html
Media Release
Reference: Dr. Eleanor A. Jara – 0917-9789297 / (+632) 929-8109
March 12, 2010

AFP should stop usurping civilian function

The Alliance of Free the 43 Health Workers today demanded for the transfer of ALL 43 health workers to Camp Crame, Quezon City. The Alliance said that for more than a month now, the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army is usurping a civilian function that the police instead should perform.

Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, one of the spokespersons of the Alliance said that the military’s continuing and aggravating torture on the 43 should immediately prompt the courts to order the transfer of all the health workers presently detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. She explained that the transfer to Camp Crame, which is distant from the military officers and officials, would at least make the health workers’ environment less hostile and more accessible to families, colleagues, and counsels of the 43.

“The transfer, however, does not and will not soften our demand for the immediate release of our colleagues because they should not have been detained in the first place. Their arrest was unlawful and they are victims of the military’s shameful violation of political and civil rights,” Dr. Jara added.

She further explained that on top of the physical and mental torture inflicted on the 43, the military continues to harass and take into custody some of the family members of the health workers. “The detainees’ families have reported this and we have no reason not to believe them because the military has every reason to do so – that is to force the 43 to admit to false accusations that they are members of the New People’s Army, hence to vindicate their unjust arrests,” she noted.

The doctor added that the families continue to suffer emotionally because of reports that the military continuously take some detainees out of their cells in the wee hours to either threaten or coax them to make false admissions. Despite the military’s claim that 5 of the health workers have “defected” to their side, Alliance maintains that such “admissions” are results of torture to the detainees and harassment to their families.

“That is why it is with utmost urgency that as we lobby and call for the immediate release of the 43 health workers, we appeal to the courts to transfer the custody of the 43 to Camp Crame and far from their torturers that is the Philippine Army in Camp Capinpin,” Dr. Jara ended.##
 

3 Art work by Neil Doloricon, former dean of the UP College of Fine Arts

and husband Angela, one of the Morong 43 detainees

   3
           
           

 

PRESS RELEASE  -- 10 March 2010

 

References:

Jigs Clamor, Deputy Secretary General (0922-814-9751)

Lovella de Castro, Secretary General (0920-918-2174)

 

Rights group slams CA dismissal

of habeas corpus petition of 43 health workers

 

The human rights alliance Karapatan today expressed its disgust at the Court of Appeals’ dismissal of the petition for the writ of habeas corpus filed by the relatives of 43 health workers who were arrested early February. 

 

“It is now very apparent that this Court is becoming an arm of the Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program by handing down this abominable decision,”  declared Jigs Clamor, deputy seceretary general of the human rights alliance Karapatan and husband of the detained Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the Morong 43.

 

It took the CA fifteen days to come up with a decision that would concur with the rules of the said court.  The original three-member panel that was tasked to deliberate and rule on the petition could not come up with a unanimous vote with two of the justices, namely, Justices Normandie Pizarro and Francisco Acosta favorably ruling on the merits of the habeas corpus petition while the head Justice Portia Alino-Hormachuelos taking on the negative vote.  “So to simplify the matter, the CA took a quite ridiculous, simplistic solution to overturn the vote and just added two more judges in the persons of Justices Magdangal de Leon and Sesinando Villon, who added their negative votes to that of the head justice.  A cunning way to arrive at a convenient solution indeed,”  Clamor commented.

 

In the face of these developments, Karapatan calls the attention of the public to be more vigilant and assertive of their rights as the government is bent on imposing more fascist measures to curtail and repress the rights of the people.  In this recent CA decision, the justices who voted in the negative based their decision on an outdated law which was used to illegally detain thousands of political dissenters against martial law.

 

Karapatan Secretary General Lovella de Castro said that the CA decision sets a dangerous precedence when it favors the culprits in the AFP and PNP who illegally arrested and detained the 43 health workers. “The CA resolution further shows the continuing impunity where human rights violations are ignored and the violators are allowed to go scot free,” de Castro stated. “The tactics employed by the state authorities are resurrection of martial law tactics resorted to during the Marcos regime. These are blatant and outright violations of people’s rights using a patently fascist law such as the Ilagan vs. Enrile doctrine to justify their violations,”  decried de Castro.

 

The Ilagan vs. Enrile law states the whatever infirmities have been committed in the arrest of suspects are automatically cured once charges are filed against the victims.  Karapatan asserts that this law must be immediately scrapped and nullified.

 

The 43 health workers whose constitutional rights have been violated would immediately file an appeal before the Supreme Court through their counsels from the National Union of People’s Lawyers and the Public Interest Law Center.##

 

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan at the March 10 picket vs junking by CA of petition
▲ Rome, photos courtesy of UMANGAT ▼
 
           
           

 

To

 

Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Office of the President
Malacanang Palace,
Manila, Philippines,

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES

We, the members of the UMANGAT, MPL, Solidmove, Comitato degli Immigrati in Italia (Committe for Immigrants in Italy), Commissione Relazioni Internazionali del Partito dei CARC (Commission for International Relations of CARC Party), priests, religious and all the other participants of this Solidarity Forum – Rome, are deeply concerned and raged with anger about the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the 43 health workers who are maliciously accused of being members and supporters of the New Peoples Army (NPA) by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The illegal arrest of 43 health workers last February 6 by the 300 soldiers of the 202nd IB, and PNP personnel who raided the rest house of Dr. Melecia Velmonte at 6:15 am and forcibly taken the health workers who were undergoing a First Responders' Training in Morong, Rizal was a serious violation of their human and constitutional rights (Art. 3 Bill of Rights Sec. 1-2). The raid was conducted with a bogus search warrant, searched the house of Dr. Velmonte without her presence or anyone, and falsely accused the health workers of having found with guns and explosives materials in their rooms.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is deemed to be the protector of the people, but the tragic drama of the arrest and torture of health care personnel proved otherwise. The AFP is desperately running out of tactics and strategies in beating the deadline of compliance to the Operation Freedom Watch II (a counter-insurgency program) of the present administration, and their promise and allegiance to their Commander in Chief Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, to wipe out insurgents by the year 2010. The AFP were caught lying to the public and thus resorted to torture to cover up their shame and human rights violations.

Recently, the Philippine government has signed the anti-torture law and also one of the state parties on the International Law (under United Nations) on Human Rights which adheres to respect and adopt the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, the series of abductions and summary executions of members of progressive blocs, and the recent attacked against health care personnel and volunteers who shared their time and skills in order to serve the people voluntarily, are clear indications of the lack of seriousness of the present administration to curb human rights violations in the country.

We are calling then for an immediate release of the 43 health care personnel, and prosecute the real perpetrators of human rights violations the soonest possible. We will not stop fighting until their rights are granted and their cause are vindicated.

LET GENUINE DEMOCRACY RULE, NO TO MILITARY RULE!
FREE MORONG 43! THEY ARE INNOCENTS!
SET THEM FREE NOW!
For reference:

Teddy Dalisay Fr. Aris Miranda, MI
Umangat Gen Sec Solidmove Sec
email: umangatmigrante@gmail.com

arismiranda@yahoo.com

 

     
           

 

ROME BASED PEOPLE's ORGANIZATIONS CALL FOR THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF MORONG 43

Rome – 3/8/'10: The UMANGAT, MPL, Solidmove, Comitato degli Immigrati in Italia (Committe for Immigrants in Italy), Commissione Relazioni Internazionali del Partito dei CARC (Commission for International Relations of CARC Party), priests, religious and migrants in Rome are calling for immediate release of the 43 health workers (Morong 43) who were illegally arrested last February 6 in Morong, Rizal by the 202nd IB PA and the Rizal PNP during the Solidarity Forum for Morong 43, organized by UMANGAT, MPL and Solidmove held last Sunday (3/7/10) at 3:15 pm in Centro Filipino, Basilica di Sta. Pudenziana, via Urbana 160, Rome, Italy.

During the forum Mr. Edgar Bonson, MPL coordinator and a radio commentator (Radio Citta Aperta) presented the account of events of the enforceable entry, illegal arrest and torture of the 43 by the elements of the PA and PNP, while they were attending the First Responder's health training in the compound of Dr. Melecia Velmonte, a respected medical specialist, conducted by the legitimate and committed health NGOs – Council for Health & Development (CHD) and Community Medicine Foundation (COMMED). According to Mr. Bonson, the 43 health workers were brutally treated during the arrest (blinfolded and interrogated for 36 hours), deprived of their right for a legal counsel and visit of their immediate family at Camp Capinpin.
 

 

 

 

After the recount of the tragic event of arrest, a video presentation of the statements of the key persons (doctors) of the health organizations concerned, the lawyer of the accused Atty. R. Capulong and Comm. Leila de Lima of CHR was presented. Then Fr. Aris Miranda, MI (Camillian priest), Solidmove secretary and once a partner of CHD since 1998 in their advocacy and trainings gave an in-depth analysis of the arrest, that he linked it to the Arroyo government's anti-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya II. He stood firm in his conviction together with the participants of the forum that it was indeed a desperate move of the AFP personnel who hurdle themselves to meet the 2010 deadline set by their Commander-in-Chief Mrs. Arroyo.

The forum ended with the reading of the statement of solidarity to the Morong 43 by Mr. Teddy Dalisay, UMANGAT sec-gen, which is an open letter of appeal for the immediate release of the victims of injustice, addressed to the President of the Philippines. The representatives also of the Comitato and CARC expressed their solidarity messages and appeal to the government to release the 43 immediately.

           

 

The Message of the CA Ruling on Morong 43
by Len Olea/Facebook

The Court of Appeals junking of the habeas corpus petition filed by the 43 health workers bolsters my most dreaded word these days: impunity.

Using the martial law doctrine Ilagan v Enrile, the CA has only emboldened the police and military to arrest persons using defective search warrants, to plant evidence, to subject detainees to humiliating conditions, to force detainees, through threats and bribes, into confessing they are NPA rebels. To my mind, the CA decision is no different from Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promoting notorious violators of human rights within the ranks of the military.

The CA has, in essence, sanctioned the violation of the detainees’ rights to due process , to legal counsel, to access to families and colleagues. The CA has prolonged the detention, interrogation and torture of the 43 health workers.

The CA has now become a party to the crime of separation committed against the families of these health workers. Doc Merry’s youngest son turned one while she is languishing in jail; Rey’s youngest daughter would have celebrated her third birthday if the police and military did not prevent him from coming home.

The CA has done something evil toward the poor and other marginalized sectors who rely on the services of the detained community doctors and health workers. Even public hospitals collect fees from indigent patients.

The CA ruling tells us that justice has become indeed strange. While the military tries to break the sanity and dignity of the Morong 43, the CA justices who junked the habeas corpus plea seem to have lost theirs.

           
           

 

Media Release
Reference: Dr. Eleanor A. Jara – 0917-9789297 / (+632) 929-8109
March 12, 2010
 

Hundreds of hospitals closed due to lack of health personnel

In the midst of the exodus of health professionals and the lack of health workers in the rural areas, the government continues to allow the illegal detention of 43 health workers in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. These health workers have chosen to dedicate their lives and careers to serve the underprivileged in most far-flung villages while they can be better-off practicing their professions in private and state-of-the art hospitals in the cities. Sadly though, the Court of Appeals decided to legalize the unlawful arrests made by the military by adhering to the Ilagan v Enrile document – a notorious Martial Law doctrine.

“Is Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo aware that while she decorates her generals involved in this unlawful arrest, 200 hospitals have shut down and 800 are partially closed because of lack of health personnel in the countryside? Is she fully aware of the role of Community Health Workers in far-flung villages that have no access to government services? Because Mrs. Arroyo is so busy exploring every nook and cranny of the law to get emergency powers, we believe she chose to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to all the injustices that her military has done to the noble health workers serving government-neglected barangays,” Council for Health and Development Executive Director Dr. Eleanor A. Jara said.

To date, majority of doctors and nurses are employed in urban centers in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Southern Tagalog. Data from the Department of Health and the National Statistics Office reveal that as of 2007, doctors number to 125,899 and nurses at 5,426 in the NCR while there are 75,213 nurses and 3,876 doctors in Region 4-A.

In a report, among the hospitals that closed were the Almagro Community Hospital in Western Samar, Tapul Municipal Hospital, Tangkil Municipal Hospital, Pangutaran District Hospital, Siasi District Hospital and Panamao District Hospital in Sulu, and the Sergio Osmena District Hospital in Zamboanga del Norte. Meanwhile, the Calbayog District Hospital, Gandara District Hospital, Basey District Hospital and Tarangnan District Hospital in Western Samar, the Malipayon District Hospital, San Jose District Hospital and San Andres District Hospital in Romblon, and the Jolo Provincial Hospital remain partially closed.

In a country that suffers from a severe brain-drain due to the migration of health professionals for greener pastures abroad, it is indeed ironic for a government to allow the persecution of health workers instead of protecting them to encourage more health professionals to serve the barrios,” Dr. Jara lamented.

In conclusion, Dr. Jara challenged the Department of Health through its Secretary to act on her capacity to seek justice for the 43 and ensure the protection of all health workers especially those serving in the country side so as to break the chilling effect that the unlawful arrests have brought to the health community.##
 

     
 
           

x

COMMENTS:

 

Joel P Garduce via Dion Carlo Cerrafon: Part of the ruling reads: "“Having established that the detainees’ continued imprisonment is by
virtue of a valid court process, we find it unnecessary to dwell on the
other issues raised by the petitioners.”

WHAT? Using an arrest warrant for a specific person to arrest 43 other people, not one of whom bears the same name... at all, is valid?? Using an arrest warrant to be served in a place whose address and owner are not named in it is valid?? Having the arrested people undergo torture and denied legal assistance of their own choosing for more than 24 hours is valid??
 

I guess these are all valid if we are under a fascist, militarist regime. If that's the case, better do away with all pretensions! Lock up the Court of Appeals and let "justice" be served by a military tribunal! Rip the constitution to shreds! Do away with elections, for God's sake! Nagkakalokohan lang tayo dito e.

 

Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Liza Maza

10 March 2010 Makabayan-Nacionalista senatorial bet Liza Maza expressed deep disappointment over the Court of Appeals decision junking the petition for habeas corpus of the so-called Morong 43...

 

 

x

Darby Santiago I was just talking to the PGH Psychiatrists who visited them last Sunday (3-7-10) and was informed that the mere sound of a door opening or footsteps at night already cause them so much anxiety. They only get two nights sleep in a week. Some patients who previously had normal BP now have 140/90. One female detainee had... bruises all over her arms and legs because she tried to cling on to her cell's metal bars to prevent 4 female soldiers from taking her at night.

If you feel that this has got to stop, the PLEASE sign the petition letter. Thank you for your support.
See More

The cause now has 1,029 members.

Their mission: Immediate freedom for 43 illegally arrested Health Workers on February 6, 2010 at Morong, Rizal, Philippines

------------------------------------

Kin of Morong 43 Speak of Despair

In a forum today, March 13, between the relatives and lawyers/supporters of the Morong 43, the relatives expressed the difficulties they face more than a month after the 43 health workers were taken by soldiers during a health training in Morong, Rizal. They spoke of the hardships they have to endure each time they visit their relatives in Camp Capinpin, the harassment many of them continue to face from the military, and of their despair in seeing their loved ones behind bars.

 

The forum was organized by the Concerned Artists of the Philippines and Artists Arrest and was webcast live by Bulatlat.com.

 

http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2010/03/13/live-webcast-cap-forum-on-morong-43/

 

           
=          
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A welcome in disguise for Bangit: CA’s pro-military decision on 43 health workers

Militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno slammed the Court of Appeals’ decision junking the petition for habeas corpus by the illegally arrested and detained 43 health workers, calling it a “welcome in disguise” to new Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Delfin Bangit, who was appointed to his post two days before the court decision came out.

By denying the petition for habeas corpus on the basis that the filing of trumped-up charges against 43 health workers has made their arrests “legal,” the appellate court has justified the human rights violations committed by the military during arrest and detention of the health workers, as well as all other illegal arrests by the AFP. It has moved closer to exonerating the AFP from rights abuses and criminal liability – an added prize for new AFP chief Bangit, whose loyalty to butcher Gloria Arroyo rises above anything else.

We abhor the timing of the decision, which came out also after militant groups challenged Bangit to order the release of the 43 health workers upon assuming his new post. Such order of events makes us suspect that Arroyo has once again pulled some strings to unveil a welcome gift to her well-pampered general.

But more than anything else, the CA decision has made the armed forces more of a monster which can rob the people’s liberty anytime. It is another road block to the Filipino workers’ and peoples’ demand to end the climate of impunity, as perpetrators of illegal arrests can run away scot-free by simply filing charges against victims. In the eyes of all the victims of political repression and human rights violations, the decision is certainly another black mark to the Arroyo regime.

Reference: Roger Soluta, KMU Secretary General, 0928-721-5313

 

           
     

 

STATEMENT ON THE ARREST AND DETENTION OF THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS IN THE PHILIPPINES

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) - the largest organization of democratic lawyers from over 80 countries in consultative status with ECOSOC and UNICEF - expresses its most serious concern and outrage over credible, consistent and independent reports of blatant violations of the human rights of 43 Filipino volunteer health workers, doctors, nurses and midwives who as of March 6th, 2010 will have been in custody for one month of unjust incarceration in a highly-secured and isolated detention facility in a military camp. We were informed that they are still subjected to torture, threats, harassment, intimidation, coercion, interrogations without counsel of choice, denial of effective medical attention and other transgressions.

The February 6th mass arrests and search of these volunteers who were undergoing a training seminar on basic health care and medical services for the poor and underprivileged sectors of Philippine communities are illegal by both national standards and universally accepted international principles. IADL shall continue to closely monitor the legal and judicial proceedings of this case as these impacts on rudimentary civil and political rights that every civilized nation and state should protect and uphold.

We are outraged by reports from our Philippine affiliate, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), together with the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), that the Philippine military has not only deprived their clients of their basic right to counsel during the most crucial early periods of custody. State agents are attempting to force confessions from those detained.

We call on the government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to respect the rule of law and to instruct its military and police to respect the basic rights of its citizens irrespective of the trumped-up charges and fabricated evidence against these health workers. The buck stops with her.

IADL will coordinate with our Filipino colleagues to make efforts to inform the people throughout the world of the plight of these health workers, seeking to ensure those who are responsible are held accountable. IADL will support our colleagues in their professional work and commitment to seek justice for their clients and stop this brazen display of impunity by the Philippine military.#
6 March 2010.
IADL Bureau:
By:
Jeanne Mirer (USA) Osamu Niikura (Japan)
President Secretary General
 

     
▲ Rome, photos courtesy of UMANGAT Migrante ▲
           

 

News Release
Reference: Dr. Eleanor A. Jara – 0917‐9789297 / (632) 929‐8109
March 3, 2010

AFP employs deceitful tactics

Health and human rights groups today slammed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for using taxpayers’ money for deceptive tactics such as the P50,000 “offer” to the detained health workers in
exchange of their admission of involvement in the communist movement.

In a news article by Delfin Mallari Jr., the AFP admits to “offering” monetary remuneration to the 43 health workers but denied that the money was a bribe. 1st Lt. Celeste Frank Sayson, spokesperson of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in Tanay, Rizal said that the money is an offer of financial assistance under the government’s Social Integration Program for rebel returnees. The “offer” was made through a representative from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) who met with the detainees on February 15 and 25.

“This is a direct insult to the judicial process and the families of the 43 health workers! Why would the AFP and the OPAPP take the liberty to make deceitful offers while the court has yet to decide whether the military’s accusations that the 43 are members of the New People’s Army (NPA) has basis or not,” said Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, Executive Director of the Council for Health and Development.

Dr. Jara said that although it is expected of the AFP to employ all forms of hard and soft tactics on the 43 health workers, this move exposes the military’s bankruptcy of morality and justice. She said that any member of the 43 can admit to anything after being subjected to various forms of torture.

The doctor added that if the government is indeed sincere in its involvement in the peace process, it should address the poverty and oppression of millions of Filipinos. Government funds derived from taxpayers’ money should be diverted to genuine economic and social reforms instead of spending for deceitful programs such as the so‐called social integration programs, she said.

Dr. Jara cited Valentin Paulino’s mother’s revelation that her son is subjected to unimaginable forms of physical and mental torture. She said her son pleaded for his immediate release because he could not anymore bear what the military is doing to him. She added that her son confessed that he was forced to tell lies because the military threatened to harm his family. On the other hand, the military said that Paulino is showing interest in accepting the government’s cash reward for rebel returnees like him. But Paulino’s mother advised her son not to accept any offer from the military.

Earlier this week, Valentin Paulino with two other health workers has been reported missing by relatives. The relatives said that the three were taken out of their cells by guards. As of press time, the relatives have yet to see the three.##

▲ Camp Capinpin, Feb. 13  ▼

Photos courtesy of DJ  Acierto, KARAPATAN

     
           
           

Streetwise
by Carol Pagaduan-Araullo

Morong 43

Respected human rights lawyer, Romeo T. Capulong, minced no words in stating before the Court of Appeals hearing the petition for habeas corpus of the Morong 43 that de facto martial rule was in effect vis a vis his clients.

This started from the time of the February 6 raid without a valid search warrant; their mass apprehension without valid arrest warrants; their ordeal of torture - being continuously interrogated while denied food and sleep, threatened bodily harm or actually being beaten while blindfolded and handcuffed, treated to indignities like having their private parts handled by soldiers when they used the toilet; their being held incommunicado and denied visits by relatives, lawyers, physicians and human rights officials; their questionable ongoing detention in a military camp rather than a police detention facility; up to the military’s initial defiance of a Supreme Court ruling that the detainees be produced in court citing security concerns.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has tried to get away with its patent disregard of due process and even its human rights abuses by insisting that the 43 health workers are members of the New People’s Army.

To make the NPA label stick further, the military made much of the presence of progressive legislators and senatorial candidates, Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, during the hearing on the habeas corpus petition; the battery of defense lawyers headed by Atty. Capulong, a veteran human rights lawyer who has successfully defended hundreds of activists, progressives and even avowed revolutionaries; the campaign paraphernalia of progressive party list groups as well as acupuncture needles apart from the firearms and explosives allegedly found in the seminar house; and the way some of the detainees raised their fists in protest when brought to court as constituting positive proof that the 43 are indeed NPA combatants.

What they succeeded in doing, however, is underscore the policy and practice of the Arroyo regime in its counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya, of demonizing activists and their supporters as “communist terrorists” and subsequently targeting them for “neutralization”, military doublespeak for extrajudicial execution, enforced disappearance, illegal arrest, torture and illegal detention.

When Human Rights Commissioner Leila de Lima rebuked the military that even assuming the detainees are all NPA, they continue to have rights especially the constitutional presumption of innocence, Gen. Jorge Segovia retorted that soldiers should also be accorded “presumption of innocence”. With a straight face, the general said, “We know we are right; we know we did not commit those allegations.”

This statement only shows the military’s utter ignorance of what constitutes human rights and state responsibility in upholding and protecting them. On the other hand it is also an unwitting admission that the military itself is on trial before the public eye.

The military has tried to impugn the credentials of the 43 as health professionals and workers. They accused the 62-year-old doctor, Alexis Montes, of being assigned by the NPA to assassinate a retired military general only to have to conveniently drop the reckless charge when they realized how incredulous it was. (The doctor testified in the CA hearing that the only time he held a gun was in military training in college decades ago.)

The low educational attainment of most of the 43 health workers was also peddled by the military as proof that they could not be bona fide health workers. This was disputed by Dr. Michael Tan, a medical anthropologist and World Health Organization (WHO) consultant, who wrote in his recent column that the profile of a majority of the 43 fit that of volunteer community health workers (CHWs) in the tradition of China’s barefoot doctors and Latin America’s promoters de salud or health promoters.

Despite low levels of literacy and socio-economic disadvantages these CHWs have proven highly capable of serving the health needs of their communities. In fact, by the late seventies, their example was being held up by the WHO to be emulated and promoted the world over as part of the global strategy to achieve “health for all by the year 2000”.

Thus the military’s story line has shifted from the tall tale that the Morong 43 are NPA combatants conducting a training on bomb-making, to the taller tale that they are “NPA medical officers” who belong to a “’super body” or what the military claims is the “NPA’s version of the Department of Health.” The military now acknowledges that the group was indeed undertaking a health training but one that was for the purpose of the communist-led guerilla army!

Ironically, even granting that the 43 are "NPA medics", the AFP claim that this catch is the "biggest victory of the government in recent years" unwittingly reveals its lackluster performance and belies all previous grandiose claims such as dozens of guerrilla zones being dismantled and thousands of guerrilla fighters neutralized.

Now the AFP spokesperson avers that since cases have been filed in the Morong regional trial court against the 43 for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, these constitute “sufficient grounds for their continued detention” and “it would be up to them to prove their innocence in court.” Consistently, the military and the public prosecutors have taken the stance that the burden of proving their innocence lies with the 43 rather than the other way around; that is, their accusers, in a democracy, must prove the guilt of the accused.

What the military tries to gloss over is the fact that their entire operation was marked by illegality, including a spurious search warrant and planted evidence. Moreover, the detainees were never accorded legal counsel when they were charged before the fiscal and the case summarily filed before the RTC. Thus the cases filed cannot cure such gross violations of due process.

Under the Arroyo regime, it is clear that the Philippine military can do as it pleases with impunity, trampling on universally-recognized and constitutionally-guaranteed human rights. By the AFP's actions and words, and clearly with the backing of Malacanang thru Executive Secretary Ermita and Defense Sec. Gonzales, the military has been relentlessly undermining the supremacy of civilian rule. Malacanang is caught in a hypocritical cop-out, pretending to take a “hands off” posture now that public, including international outrage, is mounting.

No doubt, the military claim that the 43 are NPA medics will go the way of its other lies, and be proven untrue. One shudders to think what other lie -- or cop-out -- this government, thru the AFP, will come up with to justify its actions. Meanwhile the Morong 43 continue to suffer under this oppressive regime. #
 

     
     
     
     
           

 

Inescapable Conclusion
by Atty. Alnie G. Foja

Today, I was awakened with thoughts of Doc Merry and Rey. Doc Merry (Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor) and Rey (Reynaldo Macabenta) are two of those illegally arrested at a health training in Morong, Rizal and who are now being illegally detained at Camp Capinpin.

Who are Doc Merry and Rey? Doc Merry is the humble doctor who very diligently checked up my father’s ears sometime in 2008. She is the doctor who would, every now and then, check up Manang Grace, a member of my household. Doc Merry is the same doctor who looks after Lisa and me and who also entertain us every time we visit the CHD office, which is a very short drive from where we live, for acupuncture treatment from Celes.

When Manang Grace saw her on TV as one of the Morong 43 accused of being an NPA medic, she frantically ran up to the third floor to tell Lisa about it. She simply could not believe it! And rightfully so, for Doc Merry was always at the CHD ever ready and willing to provide practically free medical service to whoever comes in. Doc Merry is one of the few medical practitioners who chose to help bring the medical service closer to those who can least afford it.

Doc Merry is also the same doctor who accompanied her friend Celes and me to court hearings in Pasig. For a time we joked at how she was almost refused entrance to the courtroom for wearing a nice and decent but sleeveless blouse. She ended up wearing my coat. After the hearing, she celebrated with members of my law office the dismissal of the case against Celes. And so when people at my office learned that Doc Merry was one of Morong 43, they too were as dumbfounded as Manang Grace was.

Rey, on the other hand, is that quiet young man at CHD. He is almost always at the clinic every time we visit. He has been CHD’s full-time and regular driver for 5 years now. I was told that, aside from being a driver, Rey does the technical repairs of CHD’s appliances and equipment and that in December last year he enrolled in a TESDA training. Rey now is being accused as one of those who had been identified as member of the NPA team that allegedly raided a police post in Rodriguez, Rizal on December 20, 2009.

It is at CHD that I came to know Doc Merry and Rey. CHD’s clinic is located at Examiner’s Street in Quezon City, not so far from Pres. Cory’s residence. Its doctors and health workers are respectable medical practitioners who provide medical service to those who, as I said, can least afford it. And what is a lawyer like me doing at CHD? I am regular visitor because the acupuncture that Celes gives me relaxes my muscles and puts my mind to rest.

In case you are wondering, let me assure you, I am not an NPA.

I find myself writing an article such as this because I cannot seem to erase from my mind the looks in Doc Merry’s and Rey’s faces when I personally saw them in their detention cells at Camp Capinpin last Thursday. Doctor Merry managed to smile but her eyes betrayed the suffering that she and the rest of Morong 43 are heartlessly made to go through. We hugged several times, said a few things to each other, but I cannot even remember what she told me (or what I told her) – her eyes said it all.

For his part, Rey was simply speechless for a while but what I can’t forget was what he said about having to admit that he is an LFS member after the military insisted that he is one. I was told that the military found a student ID in his belongings – - perhaps the ID that he was issued at TESDA. In the military’s documents, Rey is being claimed to be an NPA member who took part in the Rodriguez raid and who has “admitted” to be an LFS member of LFS’ Cubao Chapter. Now, I do not know if that chapter exists!!

In closing, I have to admit that writing this arouses some fear within me. Fear that I would, henceforth, be branded as an Atenean lawyer (who also happens to be Liza Maza’s and Gabriela’s and Gabriela Women’s Party’s lawyer, an NUPL member, a part of Atty. Romeo Capulong’s team in the Batasan 6 and Nueva Ecija cases, and a friend of many activists) who patronizes acupuncture and who must, therefore, be an NPA lawyer or sympathizer.

Now, that’s talking of how rules of logic and evidence must have drastically changed!
---------------------------------------

 

Two-star Mark
By: Atty. Alnie G. Foja

Yesterday was my second trip to Camp Capinpin. The visit was organized by Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party and arranged by the Office of the good Senator, Jamby Madrigal. It was dubbed: “Women Lawyers and Women Legislators visit the Women Detainees” with the objective of probing deeper the allegations of sexual abuses committed against the women detainees and getting first-hand details from the women-detainees themselves.

Sen. Madrigal had previously advised the authorities at Camp Capinpin of the intended visit and had made a written request to be allowed her delegation of five lawyers, five doctors and 3 psychologists/counselors access to the Morong 43.

The nine-vehicle convoy of Morong 43’s family, Gabriela and Gabriela Women Party leaders and members, lawyers, doctors and other medical practitioners, media and Sen. Madrigal’s delegation arrived at the gates of Camp Capinpin way past lunch time. We had to forego the scheduled lunch in order to save time and capture that generous moment when the soldier-guards would open the gates, welcome the Senator and let her delegation in.

There was a conspicuous display of welcome for Sen. Madrigal and Sen. Loren Legarda whose delegation was also visiting. And there was parade of honors too! But again, to save time, Sen. Madrigal excused herself from the usual briefing and courtesy meeting with the officers after the parade. “I do not need to be briefed and I do not need to be lied to”, she said in the car on our way to the detention facility, perhaps forgetting that there in the front seat was Lt. Cabading who served as our escort?

Emmie de Jesus (whose name was listed as one of the counselors), Dr. Julie Caguiat, Atty. Evalyn Ursua and I thought that we could all go inside, get that two-star mark and see the Morong 43 face to face! Pero sadyang napakahirap abutin ang mga bituin, lalo pa yaong wala namang ningning!

The warden following orders from above would not let Atty. Ursua and me in even after we insisted on our rights as the Morong 43’s lawyers, flashed our IBP cards for proper identification, and yes, even after the warden recognized me as one of the lawyers from the previous visit. We could go in anytime, he said, because we are lawyers, but not with the Senator. “Yes, anytime but not this time.” The rationale simply escaped us!

And the doctors, they can also go in if they are from Sen. Madrigal’s office prompting the Senator to quickly comment to officer Zaragosa on the phone that, “I am a Senator, not a hospital. I do not have doctors in my payroll as that would be tantamount to graft and corruption.”

But time, oh, so short a time, was running out! After much wrestling, Emmie, Doc Julie and the rest were left behind. Only Sen. Madrigal, two lawyers (Atty. Ursua and me) and one doctor (Dr. Hazel of PGH) were let in.

I was only too glad to see them again.

We were able to gather all 26 female detainees in the biggest cell they call the “main door”. We exchanged greetings and explained the purpose of our visit. We organized ourselves and were ready to begin the group and/or individual interviews when someone pointed to the camera that was staring at us. And we thought that we were left alone after we requested for the lady guards to step out!

As if being illegally held for crimes they did not commit were not enough! The women detainees are as psychologically tortured as they were weeks ago, and perhaps even more, because the uniformed and un-uniformed men who visit their cells, though certainly not welcome, torture their minds with their bodies and soul trembling, of the thoughts and the real fears of what these men are there for, of what they do in the silence of the nights and of what they are capable of doing.

Through it all, we were able to see to it that the visit would be fruitful. But it was also marked by shameless, face-to-face violations of both the visitors and the detainees’ rights.

As of this writing, the two-star mark on my right wrist has almost faded. But the numerous violations committed by the military in such a short visit linger.
 

     
     
     
     
     
     
           
           

 

COMMUNITY HEALTH EDUCATION SERVICES AND TRAINING IN THE CORDILLERA
REGION, INC.
Statement on the Morong, Rizal Incident

LET JUSTICE PREVAIL! FREE THE HEALTH 43 NOW!

The Community Health Education Services and Training in the Cordilllera Region, Inc. (CHESTCORE) is outraged over the mental, physical and psychological torture suffered by our 43 colleagues in the health
profession who have been illegally detained and forced to admit that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA). We strongly condemn their illegal detention after they were abducted early morning of February 6, 2010 by some 300 fully armed, combined elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Rizal Philippine National Police while holding a health skills training seminar in a private farmhouse in Morong, Rizal. This criminal abduction, and the baseless and slanderous accusation that these health workers are ‘enemies of the state’ or involved in some kind of criminal activity, are an insult to people everywhere concerned with peace and social justice. We then raise this question: When does it become a crime to serve the marginalized and depressed communities in our society? The organizers of the training activity, namely the Council for Health and Development (CHD) and the Community Medicine Foundation (COMMED) , affirmed that those abducted were doctors, nurse, midwife and civilian health volunteers affiliated with health NGOs or representatives of people’s organizations who gathered to learn, harness health knowledge and skills that they will use to serve poor communities and underserved sectors in far-flung areas.

The health training which was being conducted in Rizal is part of the ongoing work of legal and legitimate health organizations all over the country, taking into their own hands what our government is supposed to be providing our people. Even as the Department of Health and international organizations such as the World Health Organization are calling on revisiting Primary Health Care and empowering communities to take care of their own health, those who are responding to this call are sadly being the ones persecuted. As the government lures our nurses to serve in the countryside through its Nurses Assigned to Rural Services or NARS program, those who have genuinely chosen this path are now being vilified by this same government.

The Morong incident is just one among the many incidents being experienced by our health workers and professionals who have chosen a different path of serving the under privileged communities of our
country . We remember a few years back when Dr. Chandu Claver was ambushed by apparently state mercenaries together with his wife Alice who was killed in this incident in Tabuk, Kalinga. Dr. Claver was a dedicated physician who decided to work and provide medical services to his people in the far-flung villages of his province. Chestcore staff themselves have had their own experiences of harassments and intimidation by government soldiers during health seminars and trainings conducted in the communities, similarly tagging the organization of being a communist front. Just recently, on February 10, a similar incident happened with 2 staff of the Mobile Nursing Clinic (MNC) of the Saint Louis University (SLU) who were with 2 Swedish exchange students of the same school. They were accosted by the PNP when they were coordinating for a presentation of MNC entry plans with the Sangguniang Bayan in one of the municipalities of Benguet. The lady police Officer told the coordinator of MNC that “her Boss” wanted to get their names and needed to know why they were in the area. She said further that they were on red alert since the incident in Morong, Rizal happened.

These terrifying incidents send wrong signals to health professionals wanting to serve the people in the countryside. Serving the people is now more than just self sacrifice and giving up comfortable lives, it
means giving up so much more because of the dangers that go with it.Yet despite these, the committed health professionals and health workers opted to stay behind to serve the Filipino masses, resisting the bandwagon of overseas migration that would have given them opportunities of earning the much needed cash for their families. Hence, they do not deserve such treatment! They must be regarded instead as the unsung heroes of the country. We then demand the immediate release of the 43 health workers from the military camp where they are being illegally held for mere allegations
and suspicions of “subversive “association.

We demand that the 43 health workers be surfaced immediately and brought to the proper legal courts to face off their military accusers and man-handlers. We demand a stop to the harassment of health workers serving in the countryside.

We urge presidential candidates, themselves all potential, to denounce such violation of human rights and come out and join the collective outrage over the illegal detention of 43 health workers and demand the Supreme Court and Department of Justice to dismiss the false charges against HEALTH 43.

LET JUSTICE PREVAIL! FREE THE HEALTH 43 NOW!
STOP TORTURE AND ALL FORMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES!
PROSECUTE THE ABDUCTORS AND TORTURERS!

For Reference:
Dr. Erlinda Palaganas, RN, PhD (cp#09209531292)
Member, Board of Directors

 

     
     
     
           
     
     
     

 

Oudegracht 36
3511 AP Utrecht
The Netherlands
Tel & Fax: +31-30-2145593
Email: iapl@iapl.net
Website: http://www.iapl.net

IAPL Calls on Human Rights Lawyers to Defend the Rights
of the Arrested Filipino Health Workers

The International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL) reiterates its strong denunciation of the illegal arrest, continued illegal detention, coninuing physical and spychological torture, harassment and inhuman treatment of forty-three (43) Philippine health workers who were abducted by the Philippine military in the morning of February 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal, Philippines.

Those arrested were medical practitioners and health workers who were participating in a one week First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD) at a conference and training facility.


It will be recalled that at around 6:15 am on February 6, 2010, around 300 heavily armed elements of the military and police forced their way into the conference site, forcing the caretaker to open the gates. Inside, the soldiers fanned out to different directions. They also kicked the main door to get into the building.

All the medical practitioners and health workers, were ordered to line up at the garage, frisked, and handcuffed. The male victims were then blindfolded with old shirts brought in by the soldiers and secured with packaging tape. All of the personal belongings of the victims were also taken by the military.

It was only when the participants were already handcuffed, that the police showed a search warrant for someone who is not even the owner nor a participant or related at all to the conference The search warrant did not indicate the exact address of the compound where the training was taking place.

The military declared that the victims were members of the New People’s Army because of the explosives allegedly found inside the compound. However, according to witnesses, the military conducted the search of the compound’s premises only after all of the victims, as well as the residents, were already outside the buildings.

The arrest and false charges thrown on the 43 health workers, disregards and shows disrespect for proper legal procedures. Their basic human rights violations have been violated left and right.

The search conducted by the military was itself illegal. It proceeded from a search warrant that was invalid. The “evidence” that was presented were planted to justify and cover-up the illegality of this blunder. The arrested health workers were also denied their basic constitutional rights. They were purposely uninformed of the nature of their arrest, and they were simply blindfolded and brought to the military camp. They were denied visits by their counsels, doctors, and family, in clear violation of their rights.

Some families of the detained health workers were allowed to see them for half an hour.
They told their families that they were subjected to acts of torture, both physical and mental, by their military abductors.

The arrrested health workers conduct health care in rural areas in the Philippines, where medical care is not available to the people. They are doctors, nurses, and medical aides, who have chosen to devote themselves to helping the local community by bringing the medical missions to them, since the government is unable or refuses to do it.

The International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL) calls on the Goverment of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to immediately release the arrested health workers.

The IAPL also calls on its members, and lawyers world wide, to join them in protesting the violations of the rights of the arrested health workers, and offer their services in the defense of these health workers.

Signed:


Raf Jespers
Secretary General
International Association of People's Lawyers (IAPL)

28 February 2010

 

     
     
     

▲ Camp Capinpin, Feb. 13  ▲

Photos courtesy of DJ  Acierto, KARAPATAN

           
           

 

AFP NEW CHIEF MUST CHECK RIGHTS ABUSES, RELEASE MORONG 43
10 March 2010

This March, we mark more than one month of illegal arrest, torture and detention of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal. We also mark more than 100 days since the Ampatuan massacre that claimed lives of 57 civilians including 32 journalists in the worst pre-election violence in the Philippines. These are two outstanding cases of grave human rights abuses that the newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Delfin Bangit must address in his first days in office.

In the case of the Ampatuan massacre, FIFTY SEVEN were brutally killed by a group of gunmen and policemen led by the governor’s son, Andal Ampatuan Jr, but until now ONLY ONE of the perpetrators – Andal Ampatuan Jr has so far been jailed and stands in trial. In the case of the Morong 43, NO ONE was killed or hurt in any way during their legitimate health training, but ALL 43 HEALTH WORKERS have been illegally arrested, tortured and detained on trumped-up charges by the police and military.

In the case of the Ampatuan massacre, it took sometime before Andal Ampatuan Jr was finally arrested despite glaring evidence of his role in the carnage. Weapons, ammunitions and cash were discovered and confiscated in the stronghold of the Ampatuans. In the case of the Morong 43, the military made up stories, planted evidence and continues to torture the victims in their desperate bid to present ‘witnesses’ and justify all their abuses. Will the new AFP chief check these abuses and prevent more abuses against activists and ordinary civilians under the military counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya?

FIFTY SEVEN defenseless civilians died in the November 25, 2009 Ampatuan massacre under a government that allowed the reign of political dynasties and private armies. FORTY-THREE dedicated public health workers were illegally arrested on March 6, 2010 by police and military forces who wished to get medals and praises for their counter-insurgency campaign at the expense of innocent civilians. Will the new AFP chief heed the calls to stop this culture of impunity?

Media groups and the victims’ supporters are unhappy that the government for not doing enough to arrest all those responsible in the Ampatuan massacre. Despite growing international pressure, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the AFP leadership have remained deaf to the demands for her to immediately release the wrongly-accused health workers. Will the new AFP chief heed the victims’ appeals?

Arroyo even declared martial law in Maguindanao purportedly to help resolve the Ampatuan massacre. Yet again, until now ONLY ONE of the perpetrators is in jail. Meanwhile, there was no formal declaration of martial law in Morong, Rizal. But the military illegally raided a health training venue, arrested 43 health workers on a defective warrant, interrogated and tortured them --- all of which bring back the horrors of martial law abuses under the Marcos dictatorship.

We Filipinos working and living overseas dream of coming back to a Philippines that is free from economic misery, corruption and human rights abuses. We join all Filipinos and concerned citizens around the world in urging the courts to hasten the prosecution of the perpetrators of the Ampatuan massacre, free the Morong 43 health workers and prosecute all those who illegally arrested and tortured them.

FREEDOM FOR MORONG 43!
JUCTICE FOR AMPATUAN MASSACRE VICTIMS!

Dennis Maga
National Coordinator, Migrante Aotearoa New Zealand
migrante@xtra.co.nz
0226073918

 

▲ Court of Appeals, Feb. 15  ▼

Photos courtesy of DJ  Acierto, KARAPATAN

           


Dear friends,

Please find below statement of the Women's Global Network Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) on the arrest of 43 health workers in the Philippines.

_______________________________________________________________________________

On the 6th of February 2010, 43 health workers were arrested in Morong, Philippines by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). The 43 are accused of belonging to the New People’s Army, a faction of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Over a month later, the ‘Morong 43’ are still detained in the custody of the AFP without having complete recourse to the law. WGNRR reaffirms the international community’s condemnation of the detention of the Morong 43 and urges the Philippine government to afford them their human rights.

WGNRR is extremely concerned by reports of the human rights abuses suffered by the 43 and implores authorities to comply with international documents such as the Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions, in addition to the statutes of Philippine law. WGNRR supports the growing number of voices asking for the charges against the detainees to be outlined clearly and following all the procedures of the law. WGNRR fully believes that torture and force go against the fundamentals of our human rights and appeals to the Philippine government to investigate these worrying reports in a fair and timely manner.

WGNRR is a staunch advocate for the respect for human rights and calls on the Philippine government to afford the 43 their full rights and to ensure that the entire process is transparent, lawful and just; fully compliant with the internationally binding agreements on human rights. We request that all military and police personnel be trained in international human rights standards, ensuring that the rights of the people are in no way violated. We also request that a fully transparent method for redress is set-up.

WGNRR calls on its members to extend its support and solidarity for our Philippine partners in these trying times.

Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)
Red Mundial de Mujeres por los Derechos
Reproductivos Réseau Mondial de Femmes por les Droits Reproductifs
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WG-Terrein
Marius van Bouwdijk Bastiaansestraat 56
1054 SP Amsterdam

13 Dao Street, Project 3
Barangay Quirino 3-A
Quezon City, 1102 Philippines
Tel.+ 63 (2) 913 6708
Telefax: + 63 (2) 7093193
www.wgnrr.org
 

     
     
           
           

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Reference: Kuusela Hilo, Vice Chair of BAYAN-USA
vc@bayanusa.org, (818) 395-9207

Human Rights Advocates Deliver Petitions and Prayers
For the 43 Health Workers to Senator Boxer’s Office

Los Angeles , California --Concerned leaders and human rights advocates representing various communities in Los Angeles sent a delegation to speak with California U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s office. They met with Senator Boxer’s office to deliver petitions signed by over 500 people and organizations to demand the immediate release of the 43 health workers who have been illegally arrested, detained, and tortured by the Philippine military since February 6, 2010. Representatives of the delegation urged Senator Boxer to continue her commitment to human rights by supporting the demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the 43 and to stop human rights violations in the Philippines .

The delegation included community leaders Reverend David Farley and Reverend Sandra Richards of the United Methodist Church; Melissa Roxas, a survivor of abduction and torture in the Philippines; Chito Quijano of California Nurses’ Association and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS); Kuusela Hilo of BAYAN-USA and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA); representatives from the organizations AnakBayan Los Angeles; Habi Arts; Sisters of GABRIELA, Awaken!; International Action Center; Confederation of Iranians; and other concerned individuals.

ILPS representative Quijano stated, “We request Senator Barbara Boxer to support the release of the 43. As long as the 43 health workers are languishing in a 'Guantanamo-like prison' and the Philippine military continues violating human rights, no U.S. tax dollars should be given to the Philippine government.”

In 2008, following a hearing in the United States Senate on the human rights situation in the Philippines, convened by Sen. Boxer, the US Congress voted to withhold $2 million of 2009 military aid until the Philippine government complied with certain human rights conditions. However, the Philippine government has not made any significant efforts to improve the human rights situation in their country. The Ampatuan Massacre in November 2009, which saw the slaying of 58 people, along with the illegal arrest and abuse of the 43 health workers at the hands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines only demonstrate the worsening human rights conditions in the country.

Rev. Richards, Rev. Farley, and Hilo took part in the United Methodist Church California Pacific Pastoral and Solidarity visit to the Philippines last week. They also participated in a delegation that visited the 43 health workers illegally detained in the military Camp Capinpin . Rev. Richards shared her firsthand accounts with Senator Boxer’s office, including the conversations with the families of the 43 detained health workers and the forum with Commission on Human Rights Chair Leila de Lima. Rev. Richards concluded, “Regardless of whether one believes that the 43 health workers are innocent of the charges, it is a fact beyond doubt that their civil and human rights have been violated. They were forced to sit handcuffed and blindfolded for 36 straight hours, were not told with what they were being charged, were not allowed to lie down or sleep, and were fed and toileted by strangers. This kind of torture is illegal in the Philippines . The military has shown extreme disregard for human rights and the law of the country they are meant to protect.”

Rev. Richards elaborated, “The global United Methodist Church has determined that two of its four goals are: global health and ministry with the poor. The 43 health workers were living out this call. It's troubling that the Philippine government has criminalized the work on behalf of these goals. If these selfless acts of mercy are allowed to be categorized as criminal, then who can be safe?”

Rev. Richards highlighted, “The United States is widely seen as a partner in the Philippine Military, and is a funder. If the U.S. Government does not step in to free these health workers, the United States Government will have become a party to religious persecution of the Christians in the Philippines .”

On February 15, 2010, after the petitioning for writ of habeas corpus and mounting public pressure, the Philippine military presented the 43 health workers to the Court of Appeals. The testimony from one of the victims, Dr. Alex Montes, shows proof of psychological torture, physical abuse and other inhumane and degrading treatment of the detainees. The deadline for the court to make a decision on the writ of habeas corpus is Wednesday, February 24, 2010.

“All the 43 health workers did was to serve the poor and the most vulnerable in society and they filled a great need that the Philippine government was not able to provide,” stated Roxas. “I know what it feels like to be detained and tortured. No human being should have to go through that. The situation is critical. Every day that the 43 health workers are not released, it is one more day they have to endure of pain, fear, and torture. We demand the immediate release of the 43 health workers. We need to help stop human rights violations in the Philippines .”

An on-going petition http://www.petitiononline.com/Free43/petition.html has been launched online. All supporters of human rights are invited to join the international effort to Free the 43. More information can be found at http://www.freethehealthworkers.blogspot.com/

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Satur laments Court of Appeals decision dismissing Morong 43 habeas corpus petition

Makabayan senatorial bet and Nacionalista Party guest candidate Satur Ocampo today lamented the decision of the Court of Appeals to dismiss the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by the 43 health workers illegally arrested last month in Morong, Rizal.

"It's impossible to fathom how the CA could have come up with an unjust decision. We hope that the CA judges were not influenced or pressured by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to dismiss the petition of the Morong 43. This entire issue should be by all accounts an open and shut case: the AFP abused its authority and committed countless violations in arresting, detaining and accusing innocent civilians of being members of the New People's Army (NPA). The victims should have been immediately released. It's always been said that justice is blind, but in this matter, what's clear is that it's being deliberately denied the Morong 43," Ocampo said.

Ocampo said that the least the CA should have done is to allow each of Morong 43 to speak on their own behalf to refute the ludicrous charges the military has leveled against them. "It's an outrage that the Morong 43 remains in the custody of the military where it is difficult for their families and lawyers to gain access to them. It's been over a month since they were arrested and detained and each day adds to the serious injustice they suffer," he said.

"There is no need for the Morong 43 to stand trial because the military based their arrest on an illegal warrant and a hodgepodge of made-up 'facts.' It's most unfortunate that the CA passed off on a great opportunity to uphold human rights and protect civilians from military abuse," Ocampo said. #
 

           
           

 

League of Filipino Students
Vinzons Hall, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
09158513904

PRESS RELEASE
March 11, 2010

Time to Reverse Ilagan v. Enrile
Youth Challenges SC to Reverse ‘Marcosian Habeas Corpus Doctrines’ with Morong 43 Case

The League of Filipino Students challenged the Supreme Court to reverse split Court of Appeals decision on the Morong 43 habeas corpus petition and abandon ‘Marcosian habeas corpus doctrines’ in light of the privileged status of human rights and civil liberties under the 1987 Constitution.

“Upon the passage of the 1987 Constitution, human rights and civil liberties have been raised to the level of an express constitutional protection to individual freedoms, especially against arbitrary arrests and charges, and it should be within this framework that the Supreme Court must resolve the Morong 43 petition.”

Ridon insisted that the filing of the Information against the Morong 43 had been erroneous, in light of the inadmissibility of evidence which constituted the filing of charges against the health workers – the illegal recovery of supposed explosives and firearms on the basis of a defective search and arrest warrant.

“The CA decision is legally untenable as the appellate court merely reiterated old habeas corpus doctrines which were decided in the darkest days of martial rule and clearly favored the atmosphere of military terror and repression at the time. The Morong 43 case may be the test case for human rights and civil liberties under the 1987 Constitution” This was the statement of Terry Ridon, National Chairperson of the League of Filipino Students and senior student at the UP College of Law, upon receiving news that the CA ruled in favor of the arrests by the military.

Ridon intimated that similar to the Ilagan v. Enrile case, the filing of the Information against the Morong 43 was in the nature of an ‘arbitrary filing of precipitate, vindictive and oppressive charges in gross violation of their right and rudimentary requirements of due process and fair play’ as the health workers were prevented from challenging the finding of probable cause and the inadmissibility of the evidence gathered against them.

“It is about time to reverse the doctrine laid down by the leading case of Ilagan v. Enrile, where the mere filing of Information prevented the release of political detainees despite the patent illegality of a person’s arrest and detention.”

He said that the present SC should refer to the dissenting opinion of former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee in responding to the challenge of reversing the Marcosian Supreme Court doctrines, who stated thus, “The judiciary [assisted by the bar] stands between the citizen and the State as a bulwark against executive excesses and misuse or abuse of power by the executive.”

“Our good justices must respond to this historic challenge.” Ridon said finally.

Reference:

Terry Ridon, National Chairperson, League of Filipino Students
09158513904, teridon18@gmail.com

           

 

Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya

 

(Society of Ex-Detainees for Liberation against Detention and for Amnesty)

2/F Erythrina Bldg.,No. 1 Maaralin cor. Matatag Street, Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100

Telefax 4342837  Email: selda_phil@yahoo.com.ph

 

March 10, 2010

Reference: Fr.Diony Cabillas 09175965859

 

SELDA decries  the  continued torture of Morong 43

 

Two more detainees isolated; Camp Capinpin serves spoiled rice

 

The Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Amnestiya or SELDA denounces the 2nd Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the continued pressure on the 43 detained health workers and their relatives.

 

Two more detainees – Jennilyn Pizarro and John Mark Barrientos, both from Quezon province -- were reported by relatives to have been forcibly taken in isolation by their army guards.  The two were reportedly brought to the officers’ lounge and were being pressured by the military to “cooperate.” 

 

Earlier, three others were isolated and were being pressured by military officers to “surrender.”  The three, Valentino Paulino, Cherrilyn Tawagon and Ellen Carandang, were even offered P50,000 as part of the package for “rebel returnees.”  

 

On March 8, the families of the 43 detainees were shocked when, while on their daily visitation, they learned that their detained love ones were served spoilt rice for breakfast.  The relatives found the detainees looking tired and lethargic, and the latter reported that they felt sick after eating.

 

SELDA decry this inhuman treatment of the 43 detained health workers in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.  “This is the latest assault on the rights of the health workers who are continuously being  held and tortured by the military,” said Fr. Diony Cabillas SELDA spokesperson.  He further elaborated the extended pressure on the detainees to turn witness against their own co-workers.  “However, deliberate or not, the serving of spoiled food to political detainees is inhuman and cruel. It is meant to degrade them and wear down their resolve to give in to military pressure to turn witness against themselves and their co-workers,” he added. According to Cabillas, the AFP in a desperate attempt to cure their unlawful arrest and detention of the health workers has applied various forms of physical and mental pressure on the detainees to gain testimonies and statements and turn them against each other.

 

“The AFP uses its divide-and-rule tactic, and targets to isolate and pressure not only the detainees but also their relatives,” Cabillas said.

 

It has been more than a month since the illegal arrest and detention of the 43 health workers on February 6.  The health workers are being detained at Camp Capinpin by virtue of a commitment order issued by Court of Appeals, despite the fact that they were arrested by virtue of a defective warrant.  The detainees’ lawyers are also questioning the “evidence” presented against the 43, which were planted by the arresting officers.#

 

     

▲ Court of Appeals, Feb. 15  ▲

Photos courtesy of DJ  Acierto, KARAPATAN

     
     
           
BONUS TRACKS
           

 

Free the 43 -Lyrics by Carl Lopez Reworked music by Renato Reyes, Jr and Aki Merced Recorded at the KM64 anniversary at Taumbayan, Kamuning March 12, 2010  

Boy at Baguio's Panagbenga 2010 Festival

Photo by Joel Aquino Capulong

     
ELECTIONS 2010
           
           
     
       
   
 
   
   
   
 

Makabayan Senatoriable Ka Satur Ocampo's Online Q&A

   
Songs and campaign jingles
     
■    Satur Ocampo - Liza Maza Campaign Jingle ■    Satur Ocampo Jingle ■    Liza Maza Jingle
     
■    JIngle in Cebuano ■    Jingle in Ilongo ■    JIngle in Tagalog
     
■    Sasaturn na tayo

 

 
           
           
           
           
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