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Morong 43 attend hearing at Morong Regional Trial court

on their transfer from the AFP camp to a civilian police jail,

start fasting until the AFP obeys the court order

 

Morong, Rizal

 

April 16, 2010

 

 

 

Here is a report from the counsels of the Morong 43 dated April 17::

Here are first known public group pictures of the Morong health workers. These were taken immediately after the hearing yesterday before the Morong Regional Trial Court on the issue of their transfer from a military camp to a civilian police jail. There is an obvious scheme to keep them in the hands and at the mercy of the military.

They have been in the military camp since their illegal arrests last February 6, 2010 and have since been subjected to various forms of physical and psychological torture, threats, coercion, harassments, intimidation, repeated and endless interrogations without the presence of counsels of their choice, among others. Their families are also being surveilled, harassed and threatened. Their private doctors are arbitrarily refused entry. They are still being subjected to psychological torture and psy-war tactics and to arbitrary restrictions. Five of them are presently segregated from the rest, kept in a military safehouse and are under duress and given military lawyers who eased out their counsels of choice. The latter have not been allowed to see or confer with the five since the start of March.

In spite of all of these and what they went through, they remain steadfast, committed, now even more assertive of their rights and in a fighting, defiant yet still jolly mood as the first picture shows. It was taken at the end of the lawyers' briefing and before they were herded back to the military buses en route back to the military camp.

They shall go on fasting starting today in protest of their continued detention in the military camp and the deliberate refusal of the military to bring them to the last two hearings before the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR) where they filed complaints against the military and police for atrocious human rights violations based on well-documented accounts. The military continues to defy and disrespect the CHR mandatory orders.
 

   
   
/p

/p
Photos courtesy of KARAPATAN
           
           

x
Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
2/F Doña Anita Bldg, 284 E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City
Telefax: (02) 725 4760 Email: headphil@gmail.com
Media Release

10 April 2010

AFP’s Bungled Transfer of Morong 43: Incompetence or Insolence?

The botched transfer of the 38 illegally detained health workers to Camp Crame yesterday again highlighted the cavalier attitude of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Health Alliance for Democracy today strongly denounced the failure of the AFP to coordinate with officials of the Philippine National Police to ensure a proper transfer of custody.

“The AFP is engaging in a charade of complying with court orders, when in fact it is doing the exact opposite,” said Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD secretary-general. “The military authorities want to appear as though they are now abiding by the rules even though they are merely going through the motions.”

“In truth, they remain consistent in their insincerity and defiance of due process!”

The health group believes that the AFP has undermined the transfer by coordinating more with media than with their counterparts in the PNP or with the relatives and the legal counsel of the 43.

“Insolence, insincerity, and incompetence - these are the hallmarks of the AFP’s handling of the Morong 43 from the outset. But rather than be fooled, the people, especially the relatives, are outraged!” added Dr. Rivera.

HEAD also scored the PNP officials for refusing to fulfill their custodial duties.

“Administrative considerations should not be used as a lame excuse for refusing to take the 43 into their custody.”

“For the two biggest armed institutions of the state to claim that they do not have sufficient logistics for the 43 is the height of absurdity! The health workers have suffered enough. They should not suffer more because of the finger-pointing and buck-passing between the AFP and PNP.”

The health group reiterated the call for the immediate release of the 43.

Defense lawyers briefing Morong health workers after court hearing re transfer


“If neither the AFP nor the PNP want them, then releasse the 43!” concluded Dr. Rivera. ###

References:
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700

 

           
           

 

April 8, 2010
For immediate release
Reference: Julie Caguiat, M.D. - (+63) 0909-1133038 / (+632 929.8109)

Heed the court order, transfer the health workers now

Free the 43 Health Workers Now! alliance today called for the military to follow the order issued by the Regional Trial Court of Morong, Rizal to transfer the 38 health workers to Camp Crame immediately.

“The alliance welcomes this development and look at it as a tactical victory for our campaign to free the 43. We are, however, saddened that the court ruled to retain the 5 Community Health Workers in the army’s custody,” Dr. Julie Caguiat, one of the spokespersons of the alliance said.

She maintained that the military’s claim that the 5 CHWs requested that they be retained in Camp Capinpin is preposterous. She cited their lawyers’ argument that allowing the 5 to remain in Camp Capinpin is tantamount to the idea that all detention prisoners have a right to choose their place of detention.

Dr. Caguiat argued that their group’s counsels motioned for the transfer of the 43 health workers to Camp Crame in Quezon City because of the grave human rights violations that the military continues to commit against the health workers. “Our petition for transfer is not because of the inadequate detention facilities in Camp Capinpin but because of the continued torture and threat that the military does to our colleagues while they are detained there. We want the health workers out of that camp because the mere presence of those soldiers aggravates their anguish,” Dr. Caguiat said.

Mrs. Evelyn Montes, wife of Dr. Alexis Montes said that the detainees’ families also had to endure everyday harassments from the military. “Even though they [military] see us and write to their log books every day as we come to visit our loved ones, we are repeatedly asked to identify ourselves and produce identification cards in every level of security until we reach the visiting area. One soldier even denied the voter’s ID of a relative saying that was not a valid ID. He was looking for the relative’s cedula instead!” Mrs. Montes shared in disbelief.

“We will not soften our demand that all of the 43 health workers be transferred. We expect the military to heed the court order ASAP,” Dr. Caguiat added.##

     
Defense lawyers in consultation with Morong health workers
           
     

 

News Release
09 April 2010
Reference: Emmi De Jesus, Vice-Chairperson of GABRIELA, second nominee of Gabriela Women’s Party #09173221203

GABRIELA condemns health workers’ return to Camp Capinpin

GABRIELA, a national alliance of women’s organizations in the country, strongly condemns the return of the 38 health workers to Camp Capinpin despite the court's decision granting the transfer of the detainees to Camp Crame. Majority of the detained health workers are women.

“Returning them to Camp Capinpin right after they were brought to Camp Crame, is, by itself, a torture to the detainees. Getting their hopes high, then arbitrarily, returning them to Camp Capinpin where they were subjected to various forms of tortures and sufferings during their illegal detention,” said Emmi de Jesus, vice-chairperson of GABRIELA and second nominee of Gabriela Women’s Party.

According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), there is not enough space in the custodial center of Camp Crame to house the detainees.

“If that is the case, then set the detainees free! In the first place, their arrest was illegal, so is their continued detention,” said De Jesus.

“Camp Capinpin is the very place where the health workers were tortured and their rights grossly violated. Bringing them back to that camp, is like bringing them back to hell and worse and we see this ploy as another dirty tactic by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to break the spirit of resistance of the illegally arrested and detained health workers,” said De Jesus.

“The military and the Macapagal-Arroyo regime had just fanned the already flaming fury of the people. The fight to free Morong 43 will further escalate,” concluded De Jesus. #

Public Information Department
GABRIELA National Office

(+632) 3712302

     
Morong Health workers defiant n in good spirits
           
     

 

Statement During the Visit of DOH Sec. Cabral and Her Colleagues on March 19, 2010.

By Dr. Merry B. Mia-Clamor, one of 43 health workers illegally arrested
on February 6, 2010 and detained in Camp Gen. Mateo Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal

(Dr. Merry is the Director of the Health Education, Training and Services of the Council for Health and Development and has served and trained thousands of patients and health workers in the urban and rural areas. She was also very active in rendering health services to the victims of Ondoy ang Pepeng in 2009)

The visit of DOH Secretary Cabral and doctors from the Philippine Medical Association, Philippine General Hospital (& some from the army) and my son’s pediatrician, Dr. Abad has made me decide to finally break my silence.

Since our arrest last February 6 in Morong, there were only few occasions where I speak my heart’s content, few times where I let out the words inside my head. It is as if my feelings and thoughts were locked with me here in my detention cell. Maybe it’s my unconscious attempt to self-preservation - - - to keep my sanity intact! Why? There is no good reason for our captors in doing what they did then!

As I told them, every time I recall the day we were illegally arrested and detained is in itself a torture for me. The shouting, the guns pointing at us, the blindfold, the handcuffed, the nasty interrogations and threats and the feeling of helplessness and futility in front of all the irregularities in the process. These would make my breathing heavy and my feet cold. The mere sound of gate or doors opening awakes and alerts me. The thoughts of my children being taken cared of only by their yaya are unbearable.

We are just ordinary citizens trying to learn and make our contributions to our communities. We are not playing heroes who try to save the world and be recognized by doing so. It is enough for us to help alleviate pain, care for the sick and at times save lives. Just a simple smile or thanks as appreciation. Surely this is also the sentiment of our fellow community doctors, nurses and paramedics and health workers.

It is our hope that this incident (detention) would not discourage all those who are out there serving in the farthest and remote communities. For me surely (Morong 43) won’t be deterred in continuing our endeavor. It is now more than ever that we should be resolved to go on with what we do because we have the whole world behind supporting our humble mission of bringing health to the needy -- proving that our efforts are not in vain.

◄◄

     
Morong health workers listening to their defense lawyers
     

 

To my beloved colleagues, our utmost appreciation to all of your support and concern. I have always been proud that I belong in this noble profession. But I’ve never been this honored and inspired as I am right now. That our institution (medical) – with the most looked up to and respected people is united in seeking justice during this time that our duties are put into a test. That we are one in our goal of serving the people as inscribed in the Article 1 Section 1 of our medical ethics “the primary objective of the practice of medicine is service to mankind, irrespective of race, creed or political affiliation. In its practice, reward or financial gain should be a subordinate consideration.”
 

           
     
=          
==          

Photos courtesy of Judy Taguiwalo/CONTEND-UP

Free the Morong 43!

UP Diliman Campus

April 6, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
     

 

HUSTISYA! Victims of Arroyo Regime United for Justice
2/floor Erythrina bldg., #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag sts. Barangay Central, Quezon City
 

PRESS STATEMENT
April 9, 2010
Reference:
Evangeline Hernandez, Convener
Victims of the Arroyo Regime for Justice
Telefax 4342837, Mobile no. 09158562151

HUSTISYA lambasted the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police’s new tact of defying a Court Order.

HUSTISYA! or the Victims of Arroyo regime united for Justice lambasted today two big government organization in the country, the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army, for their failure to execute an order from the sala of Judge Amorfina Cerrado-Cesar for the immediate transfer of the 38 health workers to Camp Crame .

“We the families of victims are enraged by this new tact of the AFP and PNP. Isn’t enforcing the law and protecting the people their responsibility? Then why are they the first ones defying and violating it? First blunder, the illegal search which led to the illegal arrest of the 43 health workers; Secondly, their illegal detention and for holding them incommunicado; Thirdly, their illegal detention at Camp Capinpin; Fourthly, the defiance of the Order from the Court of Appeals for the Writ of Habeas Corpus; Fifthly, defiance of the order from the Commission on Human Rights and now this. What the military and the police are telling us is that they are the law.” stated Evangeline Hernandez, HUSTISYA! spokesperson.

On Wedensday, April 7, Judge Amorfina Cerrado-Cesar of the Morong, Rizal Regional Trial Court released an order for the transfer of the 38 health workers to Camp Crame . After traveling more than two hours from Camp Capinpin in Tanay Rizal to Camp Crame in Cubao Quezon City, the health workers were again transported back to Camp Capinpin .

“Naniniwala kaming isa na naman itong etratehiya sa bahagi nila para gipitin ang 43, hindi talaga sila sinsero sa paglipat sa kanila. Everyone of us here are angered by this,” said Quire and Lucy Javier, parents of one of the 43.

“This is frustrating and stressful not only to the 38, but to their families as well. This is mental torture. Now, instead of having many hours to speak to their loved ones, the families are back to 5 minutes of guarded moments. They should not have been arrested and detained in the first place. They should be free, free to see their loved ones anytime they want without anyone watching them. Free the 43 now.” stresses Ms. Hernandez.

Justice for the 43!
Justice for all victims of Oplan Bantay Laya!
###

     
           
           

 

HUSTISYA!
Victims of Arroyo Regime United for Justice
2/floor Erythrina bldg., #1 Maaralin cor. Matatag sts. Barangay Central, Quezon City

PRESS STATEMENT
April 17, 2010
Reference:
Evangeline Hernandez, Convener
Telefax 4342837, Mobile no. 09158562151

Hustisya! joins in fasting to call for immediate release of Morong 43

HUSTISYA! Victims of Arroyo Regime United for Justice, demands the immediate release of the Morong 43 community health workers and will be at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani today to fast in solidarity with them. The women detainees among the Morong 43 health workers will start to fast today, April 17, to press for their immediate release.

“It is outrageous that the protest has to come to this,” said Evangeline Hernandez, mother of a victim of extrajudicial killing, Beng Hernandez, and Hustisya! spokesperson. “Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has kept her eyes, ears and mouth shut about the case of the 43 health workers despite the illegality of their arrest and detention, their torture and the clamor for their release,” said Hernandez.

Also joining the protest is Noriel Rodriguez, Hustisya! member and a victim of abduction and torture in 2009. “I am fasting in solidarity with the health workers and to call the attention of all the candidates running for public office to speak out on the key issues of abduction and torture,” he said. “I do not want other people to experience what I went through but look at what happened to the 43 who were also taken, held incommunicado and tortured. No one deserves such inhumanity.”

Rodriguez was abducted on September 6, 2009 by soldiers he believes are from the 17th Infantry Division, held incommunicado and tortured for 10 days. He was beaten regularly – such as being pulled up by a rope tied around his neck while his lower body was pulled down – amidst threats that he and his loved ones would be killed. Among others he was also electrocuted, deprived of sleep, and kept in solitary confinement.

On April 14, the Court of Appeals granted the prayers filed by Noriel under the Writ of Amparo and Writ of Habeas Data against his military abductors, among them Lt. Ryan S. Matutina of the 17th IB Bravo Company and Major General Nestor Z. Ochoa Commanding General of the 5th Infantry Division. The court found the victim was truly tortured and ordered that his perpetrators desist from violating his right to life, liberty and security, that they produce documents (not limited to intelligence reports) that were used against him and to destroy these documents and avoid using them against the victim.

“I may have won my Writ of Amparo case but this is just the first step and the struggle for justice to end impunity continues,” added Rodriguez. “I hope my perpetrators and that of the illegal arrest and torture of the Morong 43 are penalized soon.”

“What happened to my daughter and the 1,087 other victims of extra-judicial killings, to Noriel and the 205 victims of abduction and enforced disappearance, and the Morong 43 health workers is a serious matter that should be addressed immediately,” says Hernandez. She declares: “We at Hustisya! are not hopeful that we will get justice under the current regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The country’s elections are in less than a month but the candidates have yet to say anything in their platforms on the big issue that is justice. Free the 43, justice now!”

The military and police raided the health training of the Morong 43 on Feb 6, 2010, arrested the health workers without warrant, and has been illegally detaining and torturing them since.###

 

     
           
     

xApril 16, 2010

For immediate release
References: Dr. Julie Caguiat, Spokesperson - 0909-1133038
Philip Paraan, Media Officer – 0919-4861580
 

Other political prisoners join solidarity fasting for the Morong 43

Political prisoners from all over the country will join the fasting of the detained health workers, their relatives and supporters tomorrow, April 17 as an expression of their rage against the PNP’s refusal to accommodate the health workers in Camp Crame and the AFP’s defiance of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) order to bring the 43 to the commission hearings.

According to Dr. Julie Caguiat, they will go on a continuous 24-hour fasting until the health workers are transferred to Camp Crame. She said that the health workers detained at Camp Capinpin will also hold their own fasting and refuse to eat their daily ration to show their indignation on the AFP’s disobedience to CHR summons and their failed transfer to Camp Crame.

“We are overwhelmed at the flow of support especially those that come from political prisoners. Like the 43 health workers, they are detained because of ridiculous and trumped up charges that were never proven. Their civil and political rights are trampled and they are also subjected to physical and psychological torture. Indeed, the 43 are not alone in the struggle for justice,” Dr. Caguiat added.

The fasting will commence at 9:00 am on Saturday, April 17 at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City and will continue until the health workers are transferred to Camp Crame in Quezon City.##

           
           

 

Limang Tula ni Pangcoy
Limang tulang nabuo sa loob ng mararahas na rehas ng Camp Capinpin sa Tanay, Rizal



Unang Dalaw

Noong una akala ko’y babae lamang ang dinadalaw
Kahit pala lalaki ay pwedeng magkadalaw
Dito sa loob ng Camp Capinpin
Dito ako unang nagkadalaw.

Unang kita ng aking ina sa akin
Kamusta ka anak, ang tanong agad sa akin
Sagot ko’y okey lang at huwag mag-alala
At ako’y sanay na at ito’y pangalawa na

Hindi ka ba sinaktan o bayag ay pinaglaruan
Nilapirot ba ang utong mo o sinuntok sa tagiliran
Bakas ang pag-aalala sa kanyang mga mata
At cellphone na bigay sa akin ay biglang naalala

Cellphone na bigay nya pati pera ko’y tangay na
Pati pabango at lotion ay kinuha pa
Baga,at nanghihinayang ay pabayaan na lamang
Basta’t ang mahalaga’y hindi ka sinaktan

Dito sa loob ng Camp Capinpin
Kahit lalaki ka’y pwedeng magkadalaw
Unang dalaw ko’y dito naranasan
At biglang naalala, ako pala’y may karapatan

 

Rosas na Tumubo sa Rehas

Ikaw ay halamang pinagkaitan ng init
Tanging tatag ng prinsipyo sa’yo’y dumidilig
Tinik mo’y nagsisilbing pananggalang
Laban sa hayop na mamamaslang

Rehas sa iyong harapan nagsisilbing harang
Sa matagal ng ninanais na kalayaan
Parang tanikalang sa kamay mo’y nakagapos
Pilit nilalagot at gustong maghilagpos

Hanggang sa ikaw ay namulaklak
Tumigas ang tinik dahon ay namukadkad
Marami ang sa iyo’y naghahangad pumitas
Kapag hinawakan na ay tinik mo ang katumbas

Tulad ko’y paruparo sa iyo’y naakit
Pilit lumilipad sa iyong paligid
Subalit tulad mo rin ako’y nakapiit
Ang kalayaan ko’y ipinaglalabang pilit

Ako ay paruparo at ikaw ay rosas
Sa loob ng rehas, tumubo at pumagaspas
Tanikalang sa kamay natin na nakagapos
Lalagutin ng alab ng damdaming nagpupuyos


Huwag Kang Lumuha

Sa pagkakapiit ko’y huwag kang lumuha
Sapagkat ako doon ay wala
Ang aking mga tinig
Ay tulad ng ibong malaya

Ang puso at damdamin ko’y
Nasa piling ng masang nakikibaka
Aking mga kamay na tumutugtog ng gitara
Kasabay ng awiting para sa masa

Mga paa ko’y kasama sa bawat hakbang
Sa ating paglalakbay tungo sa kanayunan
Aking dugo’y umaagos sa mga ilog at batis
Na nagdudulot ng mga ngiting matatamis

Ang aking pagluha’y tulad ng patak ng ulan
Dumidilig at bumubuhay sa bawat halaman
Ang aking ngiti at masasayang karanasan
Nakatatak na sa isip ng masang pinaglilingkuran

Prinsipyo’t paninindigan ko’y mananatiling malaya
Tulad nyo rin akong sumisigaw ng paglaya
Kaya, sa pagkakapiit ko’y huwag kang lumuha
Sapagkat ako doon ay wala


2 Araw at 2 Gabi

Nakagapos, nakatali patalikod
Mga kamay ko’y tila napudpod
Mga matang piniringan ng mahigpit
Daig pa ang bulag na pusikit

Sa isang sasakyan kami’y pinasampa
35 minuto at kami’y bumaba na
”Ihanda ang back hoe,” sigaw ng sundalo
”Maa-Ampatuan yata tayo,” sagot ng isip ko

Isa-isang ibinaba at pinaupo sa “hot seat”
Agad na kinausap ng interogador na bwisit
Habang nagtatanong pinakakain ng biskwit
Kapag mali ang sagot, batok ang kapalit

Umamin ka na at makipagtulungan
Paglaya mo’y gagawan ko ng paraan
Itong mga interogeytor na parang propeta man
Kung sa Bibliya man ay propetang bulaan

Kapag ika’y tinatanong sasagot kang pilit
Dahil pag-ihi mo’y kontroladong pilit
Pati short at brief, ibababang pilit
At pagkatapos mo’y masakit na pitik

Dalawang araw at dalawang gabi
Nakagapos, nakatali patalikod
Mga kamay ko’y tila napudpod
Kumakalam ang sikmura, nangangatog ang tuhod

Dalawang araw at dalawang gabi
Mga mata’y nakapiring nang mahigpit
Dilim ng gabi ang laging kaniig
Aliwalas ng liwanag sa amin ipinagkait

Dalawang araw at dalawang gabi
Maya’t maya nakaupo sa “hot seat”
Laging pinipiga ng interogador na bwisit
Kapag mali ang sagot, leeg ay pinipilipit

Dalawang araw at dalawang gabi
Nagtitiis ng hirap at pait
Pananakit at torture sa isip
Lahat ng posible sa amin ay sumapit

 

Interogeytor

Ako’y may kaibigan, “Utoy” ang pangalan
Tanggal ang aking posas kapag sya’y kakwentuhan
Habang nakapiring ako’y sinusubuan
Pinaiinom ng ice tea kapalit ng aking nalalaman

Ako daw ay matagal na niyang kakilala
Kaya ako daw ay magtapat na
Makipagtulungan lang, bukas ay laya na
May pera, bahay at trabaho ka pa

Itong si Utoy, sadyang maalalahanin
Mga bulsa ng short ko, naaalalang kapkapin
Cellphone at wallet ko naisip dekwatin
Tangay pati pera pambili daw ng pagkain

Lahat ng request mo’y kanyang ibibigay
Kapag ikaw ay iihi, bote ang ibibigay
Kakalagin ang posas ng iyong kamay
Dahil nakapiring maiihian ang kamay

Si kaibigang ”Utoy” ay mayroong katropa
Sila ang ”3 Itlog”, ang tawag ko sa kanila
May dalang laptop at mga kamera
At may mga picture pa na ipinapakita

Ako daw ay makipagtulungan, sabihin na ang alam
Kung saan nagpupugad ang aking mga kasamahan
Ano po bang klase ng itlog ng aking kasamahan
At kapag nakita ang pugad ay ipagbibigay alam

Sa galit ng ”3 Itlog”, akoy binatukan
Tinawag ang gwardya, ibinalik sa piitan
Ipinosas ang kamay, mata’y piniringan
Sugod ang mga lamok at ako’y pinagpyestahan

Sa sobrang pagod ako’y nakatulog na
Hating gabi na’y ginising ulit ng gwardya
Pagmulat ng mata’y laking gulat sa aking nakita
Mga bwisit na interogador pala

Itong ”3 Itlog” sadyang maalalahanin
Kahit hating gabi, pilit akong dalawin
Ilalabas ng selda, pilit na paaaminin
Pati pagpatay kay Rizal, inamin ko na rin

Free the 43
By: Pangcoy R.

 

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
           
     

xCatholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Statement on the Continued Detention of the Morong 43


The illegal arrest and continued detention of the “Morong 43” in a military facility represent serious threat to the civil liberties of the Filipino people. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) follows with grave concern the shifting accusations of the military against the health workers, the conflicting positions of government authorities on the legitimacy of the arrest and detention, and the seeming lack of regard of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for human rights and the rule of law.

We are deeply worried about the well being of the health workers in Camp Capinpin. We share the sentiments of other human rights groups that the presence of the detainees in a military camp makes them vulnerable to further abuses, psychological tortures, threats, and intimidation. Sustained exposure to psychosomatic strains may eventually break the fortitude and resistance of the Morong 43 into admitting under duress the accusations made against them.

The fact that the necessary defense against torture and human rights abuses has been rendered null by Court of Appeals (CA) elevates the concerns of the Church on the delivery of justice for the accused. Even assuming the legal correctness of the “Ilagan Doctrine” invoked by CA in denying the writ of habeas corpus to the detainees, we are still troubled by the reality that the Court has just, in effect, sanitized and legitimized the violations committed by the military against the health workers.

However, CA’s decision in itself does not remove the taint of an unlawful arrest and detention. The three ruling justices failed to recognize the nature of the arrest, which is deemed illegal because of a defective search warrant and the glaring contradictions in the military officers’ statements.

Similarly, the credibility of the inquest proceedings and the subsequent filing of charges are in doubt because the accused were denied counsel during interrogation, and the fact that statements or confession obtained during an illegal arrest are not admissible.

The issue is no longer about the Morong 43’s involvement or noninvolvement with the NPA nor about the veracity of torture claims of the detainees. The issue is a fundamental one about the importance of government institutions maintaining an objective distance and observing the rule of law in its operations.

Instead of calling for an end to CHR’s inquiry on human rights violations committed against the Morong 43, the AFP should support the initiative as concerned groups are only trying to shed light on the unlawful activities taking place in military operations.

The Church acknowledges the armed forces’ efforts and difficulties in putting an end to communist resistance, but under no circumstances can state agencies deal with citizens in any manner as they please.

Most of the Church’s development programs and ministries are community-based. Our clergy and laity work in rural areas and empower far-flung communities. Now, we could not help but fear that one day our efforts to help the poor and the marginalized will be perceived as threats, and that we may also be branded as insurgents.

This is the moment to press for answers and to demonstrate that there is a growing public demand, including from the Church, to restore the integrity of the government institutions—the military, the police, the civil courts, and the Department of Justice—and remind them of their mandate and fundamental principle, which is to impartially protect and defend the human rights.

For the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines,

+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, D.D.
Bishop of Tandag
CBCP President
7 April, 2010
 

     
           
     
     
     
     
           
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