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The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) conducts hearing

on the complaint filed by the Morong 43 health workers


Quezon City


March 18, 2010


Video Clips



CHR Chair Leila de Lima conducts hearing on Morong 43
  Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, lead counsel for the Morong 43 detainees



Renato Reyes Jr.:

Things I learned from the CHR hearing last March 18

1. The whole thing with the 43 health workers is the PNP’s fault, if we believe the AFP. It was the PNP who applied for the warrant, led the raid and had operational command. The AFP only played a supporting role.

2. For its supporting role, the AFP mobilized some 90 heavily armed troops.

3. Some 50 plus PNP personnel were involved in the operation.

4. The target of the combined 140 armed elements from the government was a lone gunman going by the name of Mario Condes.

5. For playing a minor and supporting role, the AFP’s Col. Baladad and Lt. Col. Abawag were given medals while no one from the PNP who supposedly led the operation were given any awards or recognition.

6. No one from the PNP has apparently seen Mario Condes… ever.

7. No one from the PNP knows anything about Mario Condes other than that he has guns and that he accosted a neighbor last January 3, based on an unverified complaint. No records (blotter) exist of this complaint.

8. Despite not knowing anything about Mario Condes, the PNP believes he is an influential person, who has influence even with the Rizal courts. This is supposedly the reason why the PNP applied for a warrant in Cavite, which is far away from the influence of the mysterious Mario Condes.

9. Did I mention the PNP knows nothing about Condes, except that he has unlicensed guns and that he’s influential?

10. The PNP says that the target of the search operation was Condes and not any NPA members.

11. The AFP’s Baladad says he did not see the search warrant bearing Condes’ name and that there were intel reports of NPA presence in the area. Baladad did not know that Condes was the target.

12. The PNP’s Supt. Marion Balonglong who applied for the warrant was not the one who served the warrant. Some other PNP guy did that.

13. The PNP was sure of the location of Condes, but apparently did not know his exact address so they could not indicate it in the warrant. They only knew his “exact” location, which was this rest house/resort in Maybangcal, Morong Rizal. To affirm this, the PNP conducted what they called “social investigation” on the said house.

14. The PNP was sure that the house they were raiding belonged to Condes, even if overwhelming evidence pointed the house belonged to Dr. Melecia Velmonte.

15. After arresting the 43, none of whom was Mario Condes, the PNP considered the operation a resounding success.

16. The PNP is no longer looking for Condes who remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous.

17. Despite not having operational command of the raid, Balonglong was the one who requested that the AFP take custody of the 43. The Morong PNP did not have the necessary bed space for such a huge catch. Quick thinking, Balonglong!

18. Supt. Balonglong still does not have any award or commendation despite his role in identifying the supposed whereabouts of Condes. Meanwhile, AFP best supporting actors Baladad and Abawag have been given Bronze Stars.

19. The AFP has such modest officers who refuse to take credit for a “successful’ operation, preferring to give it entirely to the PNP. The AFP officers though will take the medal anytime. The PNP national leadership under Gen. Versoza meanwhile would rather have the AFP get all the credit and/or blame as well as the custody of the 43 detainees.

20. Somebody better find this Mario Condes fast. As long as he’s out there, everyone is in danger. Yours could be the next house that might be raided because the AFP and PNP just might think Mario Condes lives there.

CHR hearing
    Sen. Jamby Madrigal and Gabriel Rep. Luz Ilagan


Summary of today's CHR proceedings on the complaint of rights abuses filed by the 'Morong 43'

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) hearing on the complaint filed by the “Morong 43” in relation to the violation of their rights proceeded today, March 18, as scheduled.

Among the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) respondents to the complaint, only Col. Aurelio Baladad and Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag Jr. were present. From the Philippine National Police (PNP), P/Supt. Marion Balonglong was present. State Prosecutor II Romeo Senson, who had subjected the 43 to improper inquest proceedings, also attended.

Absent was Judge Cesar Mangrobang of the Imus Regional Trial Court – who issued the search warrant that was used as the basis for the illegal arrest and detention of the 43 health workers.

Likewise, Dr. Melecia Velmonte, the owner of the house where the “Morong 43” were arrested and where evidence against them was allegedly discovered, did not appear.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) refused to comply with the CHR's Feb. 26 order to produce the 43 health workers at today's hearing. Their lawyers from the Judge Advocate General Office (JAGO) Senson, in explaining why the 43 were not brought to the CHR, argued that they need a court order from the Morong Regional Trial Court – where the 43 had been charged with violating the election gun ban, illegal possession of firearms, and illegal possession of explosives – to transport the 43 from the AFP's Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal to the CHR. It is the Morong RTC, they said, that has “exclusive jurisdiction” over the 43.

But Atty. Romeo Capulong of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) argued that if the AFP did not need a court order to transfer five of the detainees – Valentino Paulino, Chenilyn Tawagon, Eleanor Carandang, Jenelyn Pizarro, and John Mark Barrientos – to another facility, they do not need a court order to bring all the 43 to the CHR.

The CHR ruled that since it is an independent constitutional body, it does not need a court order to investigate complaints of human rights violations – which includes questioning the complainants.

When the commissioners were about to question Baladad on his unit's participation in the operation that led to the illegal arrest and detention, the JAGO lawyers tried to prevent him from being questioned, invoking the constitutional right to remain silent and right against self-incrimination. But the CHR ruled that there is nothing that can prevent the CHR from asking clarificatory questions, and that the right to remain silent and the right against self-incrimination may be invoked only while the questioning is already ongoing, not at the outset. At this point, the JAGO lawyers requested a “five-minute break” to confer with their clients, but the break lasted longer.

During questioning, Baladad said his unit joined the operation in support to the PNP unit led by Balonglong. He said it was the PNP that had applied for the warrant to search the house of a certain “Mario Condes.” He admitted that he had not seen the warrant before his unit decided to join the operation. He further said the decision for his unit to join the operation was made “at the battalion commander level,” referring to Abawag whose battalion is under Baladad's command.

When it was Abawag's turn to be questioned, he got so mixed up with his claims about his battalion's participation in the operation that it became impossible to grasp even the gist of what he was trying to say.

Balonglong, meanwhile, confirmed that he was the one who applied for the warrant against Condes, against whom a complaint for illegal possession of firearms had previously been filed. He tried to explain that he applied for a warrant in Imus, not in Morong, because Condes is “known as a prominent person” in Morong. He claimed to have done prior verification of Condes's exact place of residence, but could not explain why it was not specified in the warrant Mangrobang issued. He ended up contradicting himself and even blaming his informant for not giving the street number for Condes's house.

Senson requested not to be questioned, citing his lack of counsel. He was instructed to be prepared with counsel at the next hearing.

The CHR decided to set the next hearing for sometime after the Holy Week.




Who is telling the truth? Army or PNP?

At the CHR hearing last March 18, the army officer, under oath, testified that it was a PNP operation and the Army was only asked to lend support.

Now, in this news item, the PNP says it was an Army operation.

Who is telling the truth? Or, one side is being misquoted? Were not the two officers given medals for the operation Army officers?


PNP: Morong an Army raid

By Marlon Ramos, Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:17:00 03/20/2010

Filed Under: Human Rights, Prison, insurgency, Health

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine National Police on Friday disputed an Army official’s claim that the arrest of 43 persons in Morong, Rizal, last month was a police operation.

Chief Supt. Leonardo Espina, PNP spokesperson, maintained that soldiers belonging to the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division headed the Feb. 6 raid on the Morong resort compound owned by Dr. Melecia Velmonte.

The operation led to the arrest of the 43 who claimed to be health workers but whom the military accused of being New People’s Army (NPA) rebels attending a training on bomb-making.

Still in Army custody

“I would like to affirm the earlier statement of (PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa) that it was a (military) operation,” Espina told reporters in Camp Crame.

That the detainees were still in the custody of their military captors only proved that the arrest was an Army operation, he added.

During a public inquiry on Thursday, Col. Aurelio Balabad of the Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade told the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that the arrest of the “Morong 43” was “mainly a police operation.”


His unit “only provided support because there were NPA rebels in the area,” he added.

Balabad named Supt. Marion Balonglong, chief of the Rizal police public safety management office, as the leader of the police team which conducted a search under a warrant that led to the arrests.

Verzosa told the Inquirer last week that the PNP only assisted the military in the resort raid.

Verzosa explained that while a court-issued search warrant could be used to accost individuals, the search could only be done in areas specified in the warrant.

“The search should also be witnessed by barangay (village) officials and, if possible, with members of the media around,” the PNP chief said.

In an earlier interview with the Inquirer, Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, 2nd ID spokesperson, admitted that the suspected rebels were the real target of the operation. Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia, 2nd ID commander, also told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo that the military had prior knowledge of the rebels’ presence in the area.

But Balabad said he only saw the search warrant after the Morong 43 had been arrested and that he saw the detainees a day after the operation.

Although he claimed that he was not directly involved in the operation, the Army’s Southern Luzon Command conferred on Balabad the Bronze Cross Medal, the fourth highest award in the military.

The PNP, on the other hand, did not grant Balonglong any citation for his role in the arrest of the suspected communist rebels.

Not health workers

Also on Friday, the military said the Department of Health and the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), during a visit at Camp Capinpin, Tanay Rizal, on Thursday, had confirmed that the “Morong 43” were not the legitimate health workers they claimed to be.

AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral led PMA delegates on an inspection of the detention facility inside the military camp to confirm if the 43 detained were indeed health workers.

Burgos said the visit was also meant to assure the PMA that legitimate doctors working in the countryside were not being subjected to harassment by the military. The visiting group later confirmed that the 43 detainees were not legal health workers, he added.




PRESS RELEASE – 18 March 2010
Reference : Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson (0917-561-6800)

Where the Court of Appeals feared to tread

The CHR Investigation on human rights violations committed against and the conditions of the arrest and detention of the Morong 43 must be supported!

The human rights alliance Karapatan, today, joins and supports the 43 illegally arrested and detained health workers and their relatives in their fight for justice. The human rights Alliance also expresses its full support to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP) in conducting a public hearing today to shed light on the allegations of torture of the detained health workers, collectively known as the Morong 43, as well as the illegality of their arrest and detention.

“Although we are angered by the continued illegal detention and torture of the Morong 43, we see a ray of light in the decision of the CHR to conduct this investigation, despite the dismissal of the petition for habeas corpus by the Court of Appeals, which did so on the basis of an outdated martial law doctrine utilized by the hated fascist dictator in sending to jail hundreds of thousands of political dissenters during the dictatorship years, “ stated Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Chairperson of Karapatan. She enjoins the public, thus, “At a time that people’s rights are gravely assaulted, the efforts of a human rights body, such as the CHR, to investigate cases of human rights violations, must be strongly supported.”

“We take heart in the CHR’s correct assertion to investigate the conditions surrounding the arrest of the Morong 43 and the torture heaped on them. These were the important matters that the Court of Appeals chose to ignore – a fact that makes us wonder if the Court was cowed, as in the dark years of martial law, by the military might that maybe used against them or if the judges have wittingly allowed themselves to become an arm of the government’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya,” continued Hilao-Enriquez..

Hilao-Enriquez also takes note of the Order of the CHR for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to submit her comments within 10 days from receipt of the CHR’s Order. “It is high time that the President be made to explain her policy on supposed “enemies of the state” as well as her policy on human rights violations committed by state security forces,” she added.

The Karapatan Chairperson said that human rights advocates and relatives of the health workers, will continue to fight for justice and the release of the 43, despite the Court of Appeals decision. “The CA’s decision allows continuing impunity which favors state security forces in their violation of the rights of the 43 health workers. We call on the people to demand for justice, be vigilant and assert their rights to ensure that such violations will not happen again,” concluded Hilao-Enriquez. ###

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign. It was established in 1995.




Press Release:
March 20, 2010
Evan Hernandez (09158562151)

Families of 43 health workers award swastika to the abductors, torturers and enemies of the people

On its regular monthly gathering this month, the Victims of Arroyo regime United for Justice or HUSTISYA and the families of the 43 health workers held a mass action in front of the gate of Camp Aguinaldo to protest the continued illegal detention, torture, pressure and harassment of the 43 health workers illegally arrested on Feb 6 in Morong, Rizal.

“The military has detained the 43 health workers for 43 days now. Since day 1, my sister went through a lot – harrasment, interogation and torture. The military has been pressuring her to turn against the others. I pity my sister and I am scared for her. I am angry at the military for doing this to her and our family. Aren’t they the protectors of the people?” asked Junie Pizzaro, brother of Jenelyn Pizarro, one of the five who the military claimed had “confessed” to be New People’s Army members.

For years the AFP had detained, tortured and forced victims to “confess” as NPA members, to admit crimes they did not do just so the government can present “accomplishments” in its counterinsurgency program, said HUSTISYA spokesperson Evangeline Hernandez.

“This is what they have done to Luisito Bustamante, Ruel Muñasque and other victims of abduction, illegal arrest and torture. They were threatened and they had feared for their lives so much that some agreed to toe the line of the military,” said Hernandez.

On March 18, the Commision on Human Rights led by CHR Chair Leila De Lima held a hearing to investigate the alleged human rights violation against the 43 health workers. In an act disrespectful to the constitutional body, the AFP did not bring with them the detainees. Instead there were only Col. Aurelio Baladad, Lt. Col Jaime Abawag of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, and Police Superintendent Marion Balonglong at the hearing.

At the CHR, Col. Baladad and Lt. Col. Abawag, under oath, denied the earlier statement of the military that they led the raid in Morong. The AFP had awarded the two officers the Bronze Cross Medal in relation to the illegal arrest of the 43.

“The AFP’s refusal to present the 43 and their arrogance during the hearing only shows how they define “civilian supremacy” and “democracy.” It is the people who and which is the essense and at the core of democracy, the very people whose rights they attack,” said Hernandez.

In protest and condemnation of the continuous illegal detention and harrassment of the 43 and the continuous violation of the rights of the people and impunity, Hustisya together with the families of the 43 gave a special award to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, DND Secretary Norberto Gonzales—the brains behind Oplan Bantay Laya — former AFP chief of staff Gen Victor Ibrado, current Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. General Delfin Bangit , Philippine National Police Chief, Director General Jesus A. Verzosa, Brig. General Jorge Segovia, Lt. Col. Cristobal Zaragosa, Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, Col. Balabad and Lt. Col. Abawag—the implementors of Oplan Bantay Laya and responsible for the illegal arrest and detention of the 43.

“ We award this bronze swastika cross to them, the enemies of the people for their dedication to their sworn duty to implement Oplan Bantay Laya at all cost, violate the rights of the people to the fullest, and defend “her excellency” Gloria Arroyo to the end,” stated Hernandez while giving the award.
“Given these circumstances, we the families of the victims of Arroyo, would at all cost, struggle for justice and end impunity,” added Hernandez. ###




Morong 43:

2 news items, 2 claims


March 17 Inquirer news:
.....the military said the Department of Health and the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), during a visit at Camp Capinpin, Tanay Rizal, on Thursday, had confirmed that the “Morong 43” were not the legitimate health workers they claimed to be. (note: military speaking or interpreting for the PMA and DOH)

AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral led PMA delegates on an inspection of the detention facility inside the military camp to confirm if the 43 detained were indeed health workers.

March 21, Inquirer news:

On the other hand, Cabral belied reports that she confirmed the 43 are not legitimate health workers. (Note: DOH speaking for itself)

"Hindi kami ang nakapagpatunay niyan. Ina-assume namin community health workers ang mga yan (It is not us who claimed they are not health workers. We assumed they are community health workers)," she said.

Lesson: When reading a news item that has some claims, wait a few days more for the counter claim or validation.




Cabral: ‘Morong 43’ treated relatively well, but in anguish
03/20/2010 | 08:50 AM

The 43 health workers arrested last February 6 on suspicion of being communist rebels are being treated relatively well, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said Saturday.

But Cabral, who visited the 43 earlier this week at their detention facility in Camp Capinpin in Tanay town in Rizal province, said the detainees appeared to be in mental anguish over their plight.

"Nakita natin maayos naman ang kinalalagyan nila. Meron silang selda doon na isa sa isang selda, ang iba dalawa sa isang selda, may sariling toilets (We found their conditions to be relatively good.
There are one to two inmates in each cell. They have their own toilets)," she said in an interview on dzRH radio.

However, she said the 43 appeared to be in mental anguish because of their detention.

"They are behind bars, at yan ang nakakabagabag sa kanila, mental anguish sa kanila. Physically maayos naman sila (Being behind bars is mental anguish for them. But physically, they are fine)," she said.

Cabral said she and representatives of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) visited the detainees at Camp Capinpin last Thursday.

She said she and the PMA representatives got a briefing from the military on the detainees, who have been dubbed the "Morong 43."

On the other hand, Cabral belied reports that she confirmed the 43 are not legitimate health workers.

"Hindi kami ang nakapagpatunay niyan. Ina-assume namin community health workers ang mga yan (It is not us who claimed they are not health workers. We assumed they are community health workers)," she said.

The arrest of the 43 health workers has drawn local and international concern over possible violation of the detainees' human rights.

International humanitarian organizations also raised concerns over the detainees' physical and psychological conditions after alleged abuses.



18 March 2010
News Release
Reference: Rep. Luz Ilagan, first nominee and chairperson of Gabriela Women’s Party

GWP expects positive result of CHR investigation on Morong 43

Gabriela Women’s Party calls on the Commission on Human Rights to uphold the rights of the Morong 43 in its hearing conducted today.

“CHR under Chair Leila de Lima had so far been responsive to the demand to uphold the rights of the Morong 43. We hope that this investigation will yield positive results towards the immediate freedom of the health workers,” said Rep. Luz Ilagan, first nominee and chairperson of Gabriela Women’s Party.

The women's group reiterates their concern over the women health workers who they believe remain vulnerable to sexual abuse while in detention. In particular, the group makes an appeal for the immediate release of the pregnant health worker and those with very young children. “We hope that CHR see the urgency and will do everything in its power to push for the release of the health workers.”

Last March 10, the Court of Appeals denied the petition for writ of habeas corpus for the the 43 health workers invoking the Ilagan v. Enrile Doctrine, which coincidentally, involved Ilagan's late husband, Atty. LARRY Ilagan, then the chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Mindanao.

“It is tragic and infuriating that the grave violation done against my husband during the Martial Law is now being used to violate more Filipino people,” Ilagan lamented.

“We believe that CHR under the leadership of Chairperson De Lima will not allow itself to be an instrument for the perpetuation of the culture of impunity under Arroyo government and, therefore, act to severely sanction the AFP for its gross violation of the rights of the health workers,” Ilagan concluded. #

Public Information Department
GABRIELA National Office
(+632) 3712302



Resurrecting Martial Law Doctrine, An Ominous Sign
CTUHR Statement on CA's Dismissal of the Habeas Corpus Petition of the Morong 43

The March 10 decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissing the petition for habeas corpus of the arrested 43 health workers is disturbing and dangerous. In many ways, it condones if not categorically approving the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP’s) contempt for civil liberties, human rights, and infringement of democratic and lawful processes. Far from castigating AFP’s blatant abuse of power and defiance of the judicial procedures, and use of torture, the CA decision only justified the AFP’s continuous detention of the 43 health workers. It bodes ill in addressing the culture of impunity in the country

Citing the martial law relic Ilagan vs. Enrile case, the special division of the appellate court that heard the case of the Morong 43 stated that the detention of the latter can no longer be questioned because criminal charges have already been filed against them in court. This ruling stands regardless of the irregularities in the arrest and inquest of the health workers.

It can be recalled that the 43 health workers were forcibly taken using defective warrants, were denied access to their lawyers, tortured and held incommunicado for few days. The Morong 43 were charged before the Morong RTC with illegal possession of grenades and explosives and violation of the Commission on Elections’ gun ban.

The AFP insists the arrested health workers are members of the New People’s Armyand were caught in a bomb making seminar. But even if such allegation were true, though hardly as evidence presented as shown on television were hospital paraphernalia, the arbitrary detention and torture inflicted on the arrested group begs no justification. Dr. Montes, 60, claimed to have been continuously interrogated and electrocuted and female detainees, sexually harassed. These could not in any way be justified.

Such military’s charges are nothing new. Since 2006, the military has been filing trumped-up charges against human rights defenders whom they accused as NPAs like Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr. a labor lawyer who gives pro bono services to workers and urban poor, was also detained for several months in Mindoro in 2009 for alleged participation in an NPA ambush of police officers. The case is still pending.

In junking the Morong 43 petition for habeas corpus, the CA did not seriously disregard these violations and upheld the AFPs supremacy over the rule of law, but paved the way for an ominous resurrection of a martial law doctrine that saw many activists behind bars.

Crystal clear impunity

The CA decision only serve to `legalize’ the unabashed glorification by the AFP of the captors of Morong 43. The leaders of the Morong raid namely, Col. Aurelio Balabad and Col. Jaime Abawag of Philippine Army were both awarded the Bronze Cross Medals last February 24 amidst public criticisms not only on the circumstances of the arrest, but by the allegations of torture and open defiance of the court order to present the 43 health workers.

The Bronze Cross Medal is the fourth-highest military award which is conferred to soldiers for their heroism that does not involve “actual conflict” with an enemy.

On March 9, Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit of Philippine Army was appointed by Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the new AFP chief of staff. Gen Bangit came from the Philippine Military Academy Class 78 who adopted Mrs Arroyo as honorary member. The Philippine Army figured prominently in the thousands of human rights violations in the country. His appointment raised suspicions that his new job will be used in the May 10 elections to serve Mrs. Arroyo’s desire for power perpetuation. As at this writing, elements of the Philippine Army had already started their vigorous electioneering in Metro Manila to dissuade primarily residents of urban poor communities from voting Anakpawis Partylist and other progressive candidates and partylists.

Similarly, his appointment also sent shivers to government critics. In his acceptance speech, he underscored his priority, i.e the wiping out of insurgency by June deadline. The statement may not sound dangerous, except for the fact that the anti-insurgency campaign (Oplan Bantay Laya 1 & 2) that Arroyo government waged since 2001 has been responsible to more than a thousand extra judicial killings, hundreds forcibly disappeared, persistent military harassments, threats, surveillances among others.

Free the 43

Morong 43 are health workers who offered their lives to bringing basic health care to far flung areas where government fails to deliver. Their continuous detention is depriving the people they serve their basic right to health care. Thus, they should be released immediately.#

The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) is an independent NGO
based in Quezon city, Philippines, engaged in documentation & monitoring of human
rights violations committed against workers. It conducts research, information and
supports advocacy campaign for workers' rights promotion and protection.
For more information, call or fax:632.4110256
or visit



MARCH 15, 2010
Reference: Dr. Julie Caguiat, Spokesperson, Free the 43 Health Workers Now!
Mobile: 09091133038

Low education does not justify arrest of Morong 43
‘Undereducated’ health volunteers fill the gap in govt’s inadequate health services

“The ensuing black propaganda and innuendos continuously churned out by state forces on the case of the 43 health workers shows complete ignorance on community health work. This not only reeks of elitism but a desperately malicious attempt to discredit these health workers”, said Dr. Julie Caguiat, one of the spokespersons of the FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS NOW! Alliance.

“Indicting volunteer community health workers merely out of their educational background, projecting them as lowly and incapable does not point to anything valid as regards to the arrest.”

Dr. Caguiat reacted on a recently published statement in a newspaper which quoted Superintendent Jerry Protacio of the Calabarzon Police saying only 10 were professionals and the rest were “undereducated” making them unfit to perform health work. “Such malicious statements of state forces can never justify their accusations that these 43 are New People’s Army (NPA) members, and will never justify the illegal arrests and torture in court nor make a significant dent in public opinion.

“The police should stop reinforcing the failed propaganda machine of the AFP with regard to the Morong 43,” Dr. Caguiat said.

She furthered that at a time when the government is more inclined to spend public funds for guns and bullets and military than to put up and fund more barangay health centers or barrio clinics or bring more medical professionals in far flung areas, these community health workers are the ones who bridge the gap.

Dr. Caguiat explained the case of the 43 detained health workers has been widely supported professionals groups and leading medical organizations such as the Philippine Medical Association, Philippine Nurses Association, and the Association of Philippine Medical Colleges. Even the DOH with its Magna Carta of Health Workers (Republic Act 7305) legitimizes NGO trained health workers and recognizes their big role in primary health care.

“Long before the establishment of PITAHC and even the internationally recognized Alma Ata Declaration of 1978, community based health programs (CBHPs) have thrived since 1973 and helped establish alternative health care systems in the barrios. CBHPs number to more than 50 member programs. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the effort of community based health programs and its community health workers,” the doctor argued.

“Instead of using mockery and brandishing imprudence against the low educational attainment of some of our community health workers, these government mouthpieces should ask themselves what they have done to improve the lives of their countrymen,” Dr. Caguiat ended.###


Full page ad in the Inquirer



League of Filipino Students
Vinzons Hall, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
March 18, 2010

AFP Denial of CHR Jurisdiction Over 43 Health Workers the Latest Attack on Democratic Rights

The League of Filipino Students lambasted the Armed Forces of the Philippines for denying the constitutional jurisdiction of the Commission on Human Rights to determine and investigate human rights abuses by military personnel.

“Fresh from yesterday’s Supreme Court decision favoring Mrs. Arroyo’s right to appoint the next Chief Justice, the AFP today is running afoul with the last, final bastion of redress in government by denying the CHR’s right to investigate the circumstances of the illegal arrest and detention of the Morong 43. ”

Ridon indicated that the AFP’s failure to produce the 43 health workers in the CHR probe is contemptible action and must not be left unpunished, as the military has many times failed to produce the detained health workers on the flimsiest of reasons. During the hearings on the 43 health worker’s petition for the writ of habeas corpus, the AFP had failed to produce the accused, citing supposed ‘logistical problems’ and an unsubstantiated threat of an ‘NPA ambush’.

“This continuing denial of the AFP to produce the 43 healthworkers in the CHR probe is proof that we are descending back into the darkest days of martial rule, where government critics are jailed, even killed, and government institutions such as the Supreme Court and the AFP are absolutely loyal to the executive.”

Ridon said that despite the AFP’s eventual submission for questioning by CHR commissioners, the failure to produce the 43 health workers had prejudiced the latter’s right to be heard and be given a chance to state the circumstances of their arrest, and even torture under military detention.

“The 43 health workers, especially our member, UP student Jacqueline Gonzales, must be permitted to explain the real events, and the true nature of her work as a barefoot health professional serving rural communities. There is nothing criminal in that.”


Terry Ridon, National Chairperson, League of Filipino Students

"the development of each is the development of all."



18 MARCH 2010

The military really should have some modicum of decency and even formal respect left for our constitutional democracy as its empty rhetoric usually goes to produce without condition all the forty-three (43) arrested health workers, or the Morong 43 as they are popularly called, at the hearing today before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

It is an abomination that the military has run roughshod of both domestic and international laws on the most basic of human rights. It has in fact already been forty (40) days since the Morong 43 have been arrested in February 6. Meanwhile, despite the clear directive and injunction of the CHR in its Order dated February 26, the rights of our clients continue to be brazenly and systematically violated inside their nightmarish detention cells in a military camp.

Even though the CHR has demonstrated its resolve to take a serious look at the well-documented and credible accounts of a plethora of violations of the rights of our clients, the military respondents do not seem to be flinching, nor do they appear to be the least bit perturbed. Perhaps the military's arrogance can be attributed to the protection or tacit and even express blessing it enjoys from the Chief Executive herself.

The National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL), as part of the legal team in collaboration with the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) that represents the Morong 43, has waited forty days for the respondents' full and truthful explanation on the illegal search, arrest and the several counts of torture, threats, intimidation and other abuses.

To the military, we demand: face the music and explain the most serious and grievous violations of the rights of our clients. It is high time that the draconian practices be stopped on its tracks and fossilized sooner than later. We also assert that they produce and present our clients to see the light of day and allow us to do our professional work and responsibility free and unhindered by any underhanded tactics that smacks of unmitigated martial rule.

In any event, we shall continue to muster all our energies, time and commitment to hold legally accountable the incorrigible despots.#


Atty. Edre U. Olalia
Acting Secretary General

Atty, Julius G. Matibag
National Spokesperson

National Secretariat
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers(NUPL)
3F Erythrina Bldg., Maaralin corner Matatag Sts. Central District,Quezon City, Philippines
Tel.No.920-6660,Telefax No. 927- 2812
Email and
"Visit the NUPL at




Morong 43 Laban sa Kanser ng Lipunan

Tinawag ni Jose Rizal ang hindi makatao at hindi makatarungang pamamalakad ng mga kolonisador na Kastila sa Pilipinas bilang “kanser ng lipunan.” Itong metapora ni Rizal ay matingkad sa kasalukuyan, laluna kung ikakabit sa sitwasyon ng Morong 43 – ang mga manggagawang pangkalusugan na nagsasanay-medikal noong Pebrero 6, 2010 sa isang farmhouse sa Morong, Rizal. Ang balintuna ay ito: ang mga tumutulong sa paggamot at pag-ibsan ng mga sakit at kanser ng lipunan ang silang inaresto ng daan-daang elemento ng 2nd Infantry Division ng Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Rizal Philippine National Police (PNP); samantala, malaya ang mga salarin at lumalabag ng karapatang pantao tulad AFP at PNP.

Kabilang sa Morong 43 ang mga doktor, nars, community health worker at midwife na pawang nagbukas ng palad at loob para paglingkuran ang mahihirap na komunidad sa Pilipinas. Habang binibigyang-medalya ng gobyernong Arroyo ang mga misyong medikal na diumano’y isinasagawa ng mga elemento ng AFP, tiim-bagang naman nitong sinisikil at pinarurusahan ang mga tunay na naglilingkod sa pinakamahihirap na komunidad sa Pilipinas sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng libreng serbisyong pangkalusugan at pagbabahagi ng kaalamang medikal.

Ang pinakamalala pa rito, bukod sa iligal na pag-aresto sa pamamagitan ng isang kuwestiyonableng warrant of arrest, patuloy na ginigipit sa pagkakapiit sa Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal ang Morong 43. Lagpas 48 oras silang incommunicado at sa inisyal na ulat, sila ay kamamalasan ng mga senyas ng torture sa kamay ng mga militar. Bukod sa pisikal na torture, isinalaysay ng mga kamag-anak ng Morong 43 na nakaranas ang kanilang mga ipiniit na kaanak ng mental torture. Kakatwa rin dahil matapos na sapilitang kunin ang kanilang mga pribadong gamit, sinampahan ng militar ang Morong 43 ng illegal possession of firearms.

Sa lohika ng interbensiyong militar, mahihinuha ng sinuman na madali para sa mga elemento ng militar ang “magtanim” ng mga armas at magparatang ng mga kasalanan sa mga nais nitong sikilin. Higit pa rito, patuloy ang panghaharabas sa Morong 43 sa pamamagitan ng dantaon nang lohika ng red-baiting.

Ano nga ba ang dahilan kung bakit iligal na inaresto ang Morong 43? Kilalang mga doktor, nars, midwife at community health worker ang nasabing 43. Matagal na silang nagsisilbi sa bayan, nag-aalay ng talino, kaalaman, lakas at panahon upang kahit paano’y maibsan ang lumalalang kondisyon at sitwasyon pangkalusugan sa bansa. Bakit ang naglilingkod sa bayan ang inaaresto ng pamahalaan?

Kung mayroong dapat arestuhin at parusahan, ito ay ang pamahalaang lumustay sa kaban ng bayan at walang matinong programang pangkalusugan na nagpapalala sa kanser ng lipunan.

Palayain ang Morong 43!
AFP, PNP at Gobyernong Arroyo, Nilabag ang Anti-Torture Act, Panagutin!



Cabral: ‘Morong 43’ treated relatively well, but in anguish
03/20/2010 | 08:50 AM

The 43 health workers arrested last February 6 on suspicion of being communist rebels are being treated relatively well, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said Saturday.

But Cabral, who visited the 43 earlier this week at their detention facility in Camp Capinpin in Tanay town in Rizal province, said the detainees appeared to be in mental anguish over their plight.

"Nakita natin maayos naman ang kinalalagyan nila. Meron silang selda doon na isa sa isang selda, ang iba dalawa sa isang selda, may sariling toilets (We found their conditions to be relatively good. There are one to two inmates in each cell. They have their own toilets)," she said in an interview on dzRH radio.

However, she said the 43 appeared to be in mental anguish because of their detention.

"They are behind bars, at yan ang nakakabagabag sa kanila, mental anguish sa kanila. Physically maayos naman sila (Being behind bars is mental anguish for them. But physically, they are fine)," she said.

Cabral said she and representatives of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) visited the detainees at Camp Capinpin last Thursday.

She said she and the PMA representatives got a briefing from the military on the detainees, who have been dubbed the "Morong 43."

On the other hand, Cabral belied reports that she confirmed the 43 are not legitimate health workers.

"Hindi kami ang nakapagpatunay niyan. Ina-assume namin community health workers ang mga yan (It is not us who claimed they are not health workers. We assumed they are community health workers)," she said.

The arrest of the 43 health workers has drawn local and international concern over possible violation of the detainees' human rights.

International humanitarian organizations also raised concerns over the detainees' physical and psychological conditions after alleged abuses. [See: International concern on Morong 43 mounts...] — LBG, GMANews.TV



23 February 2010
In Praise of Butchers and Gloria’s “Heroes”

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is awarding bronze cross medals to
Col. Aurelio Baladad and Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag, the commanders of the
illegal arrest, torture and arbitrary detention of 43 unarmed health
workers in Morong, Rizal.

A medal for a “heroic act” as defined under the Arroyo regime.

For to be a “hero” in the eyes of Gloria Arroyo and her minions in the
AFP is to vilify, abduct, torture, illegally detain, execute an “enemy
of the state,” whether armed or unarmed, combatant or civilian. To be
“hero” is to follow orders from above, whether it is legal or illegal,
whether is right or wrong.

At the height of the extra-judicial killings and disappearances in
2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lavished praises on Maj. Gen.
Jovito Palparan in her State of the Nation Address. It was Arroyo who
hastened Palparan’s promotion, from colonel to brigadier general in
2003, to major general in 2004. In spite of his bloody record in
Southern Tagalog, he was made commander of the the 8th Infantry
Division in Eastern Visayas, then the 7th Infantry Division in Central

Many more men in uniform have been promoted, awarded recognition, sent
to military schools abroad because they have violated our human
rights. These include Gen. Delfin Bangit, Col. Oscar Lactao, Lt. Gen.
Roland Detabali. Abusive military officers are even ensured
government posts after their retirement.

Arroyo and her armed forces are shameless in flaunting their human
rights record even in the international community.

As the AFP crams to meet its June 2010 deadline for its
anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya, more will be accused as
“NPA rebels” as the military justifies human rights violations as
“acts of heroism.”

As we celebrate the 24th year of EDSA 1, we must not allow these
butchers in uniform to continue massacres, killings, enforced
disappearances, illegal arrests and detention of the Filipino people.
For all that we have fought for and gained, we will not allow another
martial rule.

Free the 43 healthworkers now!
Justice for all victims of human rights violations!

Girlie T. Padilla
EMJP Secretary General



News Release
16 February 2010
Reference: Rep. Luz Ilagan, Gabriela Women's Party 1st Nominee and Chairperson
0920 – 9213221

GABRIELA fears further sexual abuse of female health workers,
Demands their immediate release

Gabriela Women's Party demands that the 43 detained health workers be immediately released, especially the women, given their continuing vulnerability to sexual abuse.

“It is always extremely difficult for women victims of abuse to speak of their ordeal. More so for those who remain within the circumstances where they are vulnerable to abuse,” declared Representative Luz Ilagan, first nominee of GWP, in reaction to the supposed denial of one female health detainee who had earlier claimed she was sexually abused by soldiers in Camp Capinpin.

The women's group maintains that the mere fact that the detainees were blindfolded and their private parts touched by soldiers meant there had been sexual abuse.

Ilagan further said that the 43 health workers, especially the women, urgently need psychological counselling. “We can only imagine the mental and emotional torment the detained female health workers go through every minute they are held captive knowing the historical and institutionalized notoriety of the AFP in abusing female political captives.”

The group will launch the campaign “Free Our Sisters, Free Ourselves, Free the Morong 43” to enjoin concerned individuals and groups both local and international to pressure the government to immediately release the illegally arrested and detained health workers. ###

Gabriela Women's Party National Headquarters
161 kamias extension road,
Quezon City
Telefax: (632) 3327551
Email: gabrielawomensparty
Website: www.gabrielawomensp




Laguna doctors troubled by arrest of ‘Morong 43’
By Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
First Posted 22:01:00 02/14/2010

SAN PEDRO, Laguna, Philippines -- Even doctors and health workers without political affiliations are alarmed by the arrest of the 43 health workers whom the military has tagged as communist rebels.

Dr. Rosauro Sta. Maria, a consultant at the University of Perpetual Help System in Biñan and a member of the Laguna Medical Society, said Sunday the arrest of the so-called “Morong 43” created a scare among medical practitioners who have been conducting regular medical missions in the remote areas in the province.

The 43 -- composed of doctors, a nurse, a midwife and health volunteers -- were arrested in a joint police and military raid in a rest house in Morong, Rizal, on Feb. 6, as they were conducting health training.

They have been held for over a week now in a military camp in Tanay, Rizal, over suspicions that they are members of the New People’s Army.

“When we conduct medical missions, we don’t ask the patients if they are (members of the) NPA. And even if I knew and if I helped them, would that make me an NPA?” said Sta. Maria in a phone interview.

“If the patient is a military man, we’d also treat him, just the same. So long as they need help, we don’t care (who they are). It’s part of our doctrine,” he added.

Sta. Maria said the scare has trickled down to the nurses and health volunteers. “Now, they hesitate to join us in medical missions and I can’t blame them.”

His group provides free medical services, literacy and disaster preparedness trainings to poor communities, especially after Tropical Storm “Ondoy” struck Laguna in September.

“Most of our Filipino doctors are now migrating abroad for higher pay. And for the few of us who decide to stay here, is this how they treat us? What do these doctors get out of helping people? Nothing,” St. Maria lamented.

He also asked state forces to leave the medical sector out of their war against the communists.

”Doctors are very busy people. They would not have time making bombs. They’d rather buy bombs than risk blowing themselves up!” he said, brushing off military reports that ammunitions were recovered from the 43 arrested.

The doctor also assailed the military for failing to present the 43 health workers in a hearing on Friday despite the court’s issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. “Now that makes us really wonder why could they not show these doctors? Do the doctors have lashes on their bodies?”

But the military has denied torturing the 43 persons to force them to admit links to the communist guerrillas.

Sta. Maria said members of the Philippine Pediatric Society in Southern Tagalog, Philippine Academy of Family Physicians and other medical societies in Laguna have been organizing themselves to drum up the campaign to free the 43 health workers.

“Is this Martial Law? They’re doing it all over again,” he said.



Art work by Neil Doloricon, husband of detained Angela

▼   Photos courtesy of Dennis Raymundo  ▼


March 4, 2010
REFERENCE: Roy Morilla, Public Information Officer (0907-418-0098)

Torture of 43 health workers, persecution of 7 indigenous farmers
Arroyo government forces delusional of Oplan Bantay Laya's success

MANILA, Philippines - Farmers, indigenous peoples, human rights advocates and activists belonging to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) protested in front of the office of National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) in Quezon City to call for the release of 43 health workers and the end of political persecution of 7 indigenous farmers in Sta. Cruz town, Davao Del Sur. The groups believed that the illegal arrests and torture of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal and the accusation of fabricated charges on 7 indigenous farmer leaders in Mindanao are all part of the government efforts to artificially substantiate accomplishments for Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

"The Arroyo government is desperately fabricating their so-called `accomplishments' for OBL at the cost of destroying democracy, violating basic rights and sowing terror among the people," said Wilfredo Marbella, KMP Deputy Secretary-General.

"Mrs. Arroyo and her fascist dogs thought that they silence dissent by killing activists, torturing, forcedly disappearing them and filing of fabricated charges. They have done so on her early years, but the people's movement was not cowed, instead, more and more people are joing the protests as they are fed up with Arroyo's dictatorship and corrupt government," he said.

To date, Tanggol Magsasaka recorded 561 farmers who fell victim of extra-judicial killings, 119 of them were leaders of KMP, 129 of enforced disappearances and scores suffering in jails nationwide. The group also said that farmers were the majority of victims of Oplan Bantay Laya.

"We strongly condemn the Arroyo government's rule of fascist terror. The 43 health workers who consistently render services to farmers are innocent of what they are accused of. Their only crime was to serve the people because on the eyes of the military and Arroyo, helping people is a crime," said Prof. Cesar Tolosa, Tanggol Magsasaka Co-convenor.

"I am a professor and a supporter of peasants' struggle for genuine land reform, the military would certainly brand me as a member of the New People's Army (NPA). All those who fight for democracy and social justice are NPAs to the military. They totally show their stupidity and ignorance of the democracy, law and due process. Those pea-brained military should not be holding firearms in the first place," said Tolosa.

Both KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka also condemned the recent giving of awards to Col. Aurelio Baladad and Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, also the recent reports that the military is interrogating and torturing some of the health workers to admit they were members of the NPA, deny the tortures, change counsels and refuse support from Karapatan. The groups reiterated their calls for the immediate release of the 43 health workers who are now in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.

The groups are also calling for the end to political persecution of "Sta. Cruz 7" or the 7 indigenous farmers in Sta. Cruz town, Davao del Sur. They are local coordinators and members of Katribu Partylist and were accused by Corporal Bert Ulao of the 39th Infantry Battalion of the Phil. Army (IBPA) and Omo Tongon of the CAFGU unit of 72nd IBPA as being members of the NPA and connected on an ambush on the military on January 12 at Bgy. Coronon of the said town.

Accused were Gina Bernardo, Edgardo Piadopo, Pasing Lopez, Lino Lumana, Amy Elio, Cording Elacion and Benjie Paldas who were from Katribu Partylist, PASAKA, United Farmers Assoc. of Sta. Cruz, Fatulangon Farmers' Assoc. and Urban Integrated Health Services Foundation, Inc. (UIHSFI).

"The military are indeed, agents of lies and deception. They are exploiting the justice system to persecute activists who oppose mining and logging projects in their region. Because of their struggle to protect the environment and interests of the people, they are being targeted by the government, in this case through `arrest and detention,' an ingredient of OBL," said Marbella.

"We call on all sectors to struggle against OBL. Today, the government may be targeting us, tomorrow it may be one of you," said Marbella. #

UP Mass Com Dean Dr. Roland Tolentino    


Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

CPP condemns raid of grassroots medical trainingFebruary 10, 2010

The Communist Party of the Philippines today joined in the widespread condemnation of the government military forces’ raid of a grassroots medical training conference being held at a farmhouse in Morong, Rizal and the illegal arrest and torture of 43 doctor and nurse trainors and volunteer health trainees.

Lambasting the arrest as an attack against progressive medical professionals and volunteer grassroots health workers who have dedicated their knowledge and lives to providing health care to the people, the CPP demanded that the victims be immediately released and the raiders be made accountable for their brazen violation of the victims’ human rights.

The training was part of an initiative by the Council for Health and Development (CHD), a non-government organization that is dedicated to the cause of uplifting the health status of the poor, setting up of grassroots health programs and training volunteer grassroots health workers.

Last February 6, a battalion of soldiers from the Philippine Army's 202nd Infantry Brigade accompanied by the local police forcibly entered and raided the farmhouse where the training was being held.

The CPP cited reports that the raid was conducted with the full force of a military operation, using four 6 x 6 military trucks, two Armored Personnel Carriers and other vehicles with no plate numbers or whose plates were either covered by tape or smeared with mud.

"To justify the raid," said the CPP, "the raiders brought with them a fake search warrant to look for a certain 'Mario Conde' who is unknown to the household and community. They also brought with them grenades, firearms and the like which they planted at the scene to justify the fabrication of charges that the arrested health workers were training to make bombs."

The 43 health workers are currently detained at Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd IBde. According to their lawyers, colleagues and relatives, the arrested health personnel were handcuffed, blindfolded and tortured for more than 36 hours and were denied adequate food and bathroom privileges.

"The arrest, detention and torture of the 43 health workers is an outright violation of human rights," said the CPP. "It was carried out in outright contempt of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which the Philippine government signed with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 1998."

"It is utterly deplorable that this blanket arrest targeted progressive health professionals and volunteer community health workers who have been attending to the health care needs of the people, especially the impoverished who have long been suffering from the lack of health services due to the ruling regimes' criminal neglect," said the CPP.

Marco Valbuena
Media Officer
Cellphone Numbers: 09156596802 :: 09282242061

Video Clips
Watch the recording of the March 18, 2010 live webcast of the Commission on Human Rights hearing in Diliman, Quezon City about the AFP’s illegal arrest, continued detention, and alleged torture of the 43 health workers. ...



◄ The CHR  uses a tape recorder instead of the latest

digital voice recorder.

Anakpawis members at the footbridge near the CHR  ►

◄  Jeep used in the election campaign doubles up as a verhicle 

to transport relatives and friends of Morong 43


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