Families and supporters of the Morong 43 health workers

to mark the 9th month of illegal arrest and detention on Nov. 6

and demand their immediate release  with a  caravan of 43 vehicles to Bicutan jail

 

 

November 5, 2010  2010

p

 

 

   

 

Download:       Chronology Documents            Court documents and testimonies

 

  Free Morong 43 vigil at St.James Cathedral, Montreal, Canada      

 

   Migrante-Middle East demands  the release of Morong 43

 

   Poems on the Morong 43  by Richard Gappi and Pia Montalban

 

   Foreign lawyers international organizations  call for the release of the Morong 43

 

  International lawyers visit Morong 43 in Bicutan

 

  Human rights group brings the case of the Morong 43 to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva

 

  One-page newspager ad to release the Morong43

 

 

 
     
 
  Morong 43 nursing mothers Maria Castro (center) and Judilyn Oliveros (right
/p

/p
 
           
     

 

November 6, 2010 marks the ninth month in detention of the Morong 43.

On February 06, 2010, over 300 elements of the 202 Infantry Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Philippines raided the farmhouse of Professor Emeritus of the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines Dr. Melecia Velmonte. The AFP and the Philippine National Police arrested 43 health workers on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. The state forces used a defective warrant and planted evidence to justify the arrest of the 43. The health workers were subjected to physical and psychological torture, denied counsel and visits and subjected to various indignities will inside a military camp. They have since been known as the “Morong 43”.

Bayan is calling for an internationally – coordinated action to press Pres. Benigno Aquino

III for the immediate and unconditional release of these community health workers who are now detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig, Rizal.

The Philippine Department of Justice has submitted its review and recommendations to the Philippine President. The DOJ secretary Leila de Lima has indicated that her recommendations should lead to the release of the detainees.

Aquino himself has admitted that the search warrant was defective. Furthermore, the evidence “wrongly gotten cannot be used, and therefore ( cases ) cannot prosper”. However, he said that the release of the health workers will have to be sanctioned by the courts.

Despite his admission, Aquino has yet to act on the DOJ recommendations.

The advocates of the 43 have suggested that President Aquino direct the Department of Justice to file a motion withdrawing the criminal charges against the 43 before the Morong Regional Trial Court and the Metropolitan Trial Court . The courts would have no choice but to release the 43.

Aquino’s statements on the 43 comes in the wake of his granting of amnesty to some 300 rebel soldiers who were detained by the Arroyo regime. Many have asked why the detained health workers have not been released given that there is really no case against them and that their constitutional rights were violated.

Two women detainees have already given birth during detention. Judilyn Oliveros gave birth in July while Mercy Castro gave birth this October. Both are under hospital arrest at the Philippine General Hospital. Both mothers have fought for their right to breastfeed their babies.

Various well-known international organizations have sent letters of appeals to Aquino for the release of the 43, to cite a few: World Council of Churches, World Student Christian Federation, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, the Japan Lawyers Intl Solidarity Association, the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Canada, and many more.

Let us continue to press the Aquino regime to act to rectify the historic injustices committed by the US – Arroyo regime and to respect all the rights of the Morong 43 as well as all political prisoners in the Philippines.

On November 6, various organizations will converge at Camp Bagong Diwa where the health workers are being detained and hold a protest action, religious service and short program. Allies and supporters of the 43 health workers are expected to attend the gathering.

We appeal to friends and organizations abroad to launch actions at the Philippine embassies and consulates to press for the release of the 43 health workers. ###

 

 

■    Rights groups and advocates fast in support of the Morong 43

■    Political prisoners support Morong43

▲  Photos by Karapatan  

           
     
     
     

 

No to double standard, release the Morong 43 -- Karapatan

“No double standards please,” says Karapatan, a national alliance of human rights groups, as it presses for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, including the 43 health workers known as the Morong 43.

“We express our support in granting amnesty for all rebel soldiers, but we are dismayed by the inaction of the President on the plight of almost 400 political prisoners who, like the mutineers, fought the corrupt and repressive Arroyo regime,” said Jigs Clamor, Karapatan acting secretary general.

Clamor also added that in the particular case of the Morong 43, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima already submitted her recommendations to President. “But up to now, there is no action from Malacañang,” says Clamor.

“We remind the President and the public that the Morong 43 were arrested by the elements of the military on the basis of a faulty warrant and trumped up charges. They were physically and psychologically tortured and still languishing for more than eight months now,” Clamor also said.

According to Clamor, the international outcry for the release of the Morong 43 is mounting, and the President was asked for their release when he visited the United States. Mercy Castro, one of the Morong 43 is due to give birth through a Caesarean operation on October 8. Last August, Judilyn Oliveros also gave birth, and is still under hospital arrest at the Philippine General Hospital.

“Morong 43 and all political prisoners are victims of injustice under the Arroyo administration. President Aquino must not prolong their suffering and injustices by releasing them now,” Clamor concluded. ##
 

The Free 43 vigil on Oct 7 in front of St.James Cathedral, Montreal, Canada. In this vigil, the Montreal Presbytery headed by Rev. Shaun Fryday was able to gather 200 signatures from health professionals from 30 countries.  Photos courtesy of Migrante Canada

           
     
     
     

 

NUPL Calls for Immediate Release of the Morong 43
17 September 2010

MANILA – The nascent Aquino government should immediately take bolder steps to bring justice to the victims of human rights violations, particularly those perpetrated by its much reviled predecessor, otherwise, it will find itself slowly being isolated as well, locally and internationally, a nationwide organization of human rights and public interest lawyers warned yesterday.

The warning made by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) happened while
different church and human rights groups observed a national day of action and sympathy fasting to call attention to the continuing plight of the illegally arrested health workers known as the Morong 43 and other political prisoners jailed in the different detention facilities around the country.“If the unfortunate deaths of the eight Hongkong residents in the hostage fiasco were immediately investigated and attended to by the Aquino government, with more reason that the government should resolve with dispatch the unjust cases initiated particularly by the hated Arroyo government against its own
people,” said lawyer Edre Olalia, NUPL acting secretary general.Rights watchdog Karapatan said there are about 300 political prisoners in the country, some 90 percent of whom were arrested during the Arroyo’s nine-year rule, which was tainted with at least a thousand cases of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance and other grave human rights violations.

“This demand for the immediate release of the Morong 43 and the other political prisoners is our expression of solidarity to the victims as well as their relatives,” Olalia said.

The continuing illegal detention of the Morong 43 and the other political prisoners, lalia said, are also among the matters discussed during the meeting of the bureau members of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers
(IADL).

IADL, which has an observer status at the United Nations, is organizing the Fifth Conference of Lawyers in the Asia and Pacific (COLAP) to be held September 18-19 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Olalia added.Last Tuesday, during a meeting with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, IADL officers led by U.S. lawyer Jeanne Mirer also particularly discussed the continuing detention of the Morong 43. Mirer also expressed the group’s continuing concern as well on the other unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance in the country.

-30-
 

Reference:
Atty.Edre U. Olalia - 09175113373
Acting – Secretary General

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 addresses:nupl2007@gmail.com and nuplphilippines@yahoo.com
"Visit the NUPL at http://www.nupl.net/

 

Download: Joint Statement of Migrante chapters in the Middle-East

Photos by Migrante- Middle East

           
     

 

11 Apr 2010; Sun; 547pm
Manila
DOWNLOAD:  Chronologoy documents (6)

 

Dear friends:

Please find attached
:
1) Chronology of Experiences of the 43 Filipino health workers known as "Morong 43";
2) Addendum to the Chronology;
3) Chronology of Experiences of Relatives and Human Rights Defenders;
4) Chronology of accounts of doctors;
5) Primer; and
6) Article by Prof. Boehringer on the Court of Appeals decision.

Documents 1, 3 and 4 were prepared and submitted on April 8 by way of compliance with the Order of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR), which would hold another hearing tomorrow on the complaints for various violations of human rights on the Complainants-Detainees.

Document 1 is of particular significance and interest because it recounts in painful detail, based on the 43 health workers' own comprehensive individual and collective recollections reduced into sworn statements, from day one to today, their harrowing experience and the repeated interrogations without counsel of their choice mostly during the night, the various forms of coercion, threats, harassments, intimidation and indignities, the psychological and physical torture, and the deprivation of sleep at the hands of their captors.

It will help the reader also understand the context and circumstances why and how 5 of them are now segregated, isolated from the 38, refused to be given access to their counsel of choice, and are being misrepresented by the military as having "confessed."

Please help us spread the truth.
Kindly disseminate them widely.
Feel free to use these as you deem fit in any way.

Apologies for the grammatical errors and the vague references given the time constraints.

Thank you.

National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL) and the
Public Interest Law Center (PILC),
Counsels for the Morong 43
by:
Edre U. Olalia
NUPL Acting Secretary General

 

 

NEWS RELEASE
10 October 2010
REFERENCE: Lana Linaban, GABRIELA Secretary General (0908-8653582) / Public Information Department (371-2302 / 0917-4661522)

Respect the needs of the new moms and newborns!

Women’s group GABRIELA reiterates its call for the urgent release of the detained health workers collectively known as Morong 43, following detainee Mercy Castro’s giving birth to a baby girl yesterday at the Philippine General Hospital.

“With the birth of Mercy’s baby, another innocent becomes victim to the injustice that is the continued illegal detention of the Morong 43. The condition of Mercy and her child makes it more imperative the immediate release of the health workers,” said Lana Linaban, GABRIELA secretary general.

“It is inhumane—the babies only in their first few days but already under detention. Babies need to grow up in a safe and non-oppressive environment,” said Linaban.

Last July 22, detainee Judilyn Oliveros has also given birth to a baby boy at PGH. Judilyn is allowed hospital detention for three months while she nurses her child. By November, she will be returned to prison and separated from her child. There is still no court decision on the petition to allow Mercy Castro to stay in the hospital after giving birth.

According to Linaban, while the two new moms are better off in hospital than in prison, they remain in detrimental conditions that also affect their newborns. While in PGH, the detainees are under the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and under BJMP’s strict policy, the new moms with their infants are hardly allowed to get sun exposure. Judilyn was not even allowed to accompany her baby for his immunization shots.

“The government must recognize and respect the special needs of the mothers and their babies. It is unbearable for a woman to nurse a child under duress, more so if the continuing detention is illegal,” said Linaban.

GABRIELA expressed its dismay over President Ninoy Aquino’s refusal to order the immediate release of the health workers, despite his articulation that the search and arrests done in Morong last February 6 were suspect, thus any evidence found are inadmissible.

“Instead of rectifying that injustice, Aquino continues to wash his hands off. Instead of a decisive action, he feebly advised to await for the court’s decision,” added Linaban.

Clamor for the release of the Morong 43 and all political prisoners became louder following Aquino’s amnesty of the Magdalo soldiers.

“Like Mercy and Judilyn, women political prisoners are mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives who are languishing in jail for actively defending the rights of Filipino women and other marginalized sectors. Malacanang reasoned that the rebel soldiers have suffered enough. Well, political prisoners have suffered more than enough, and unjustly so,” said Linaban.

“It is time injustice against them ends. Freedom for Mercy and Judilyn! Freedom for the Morong 43 and all political prisoners!” added Linaban. ###

Public Information Department
GABRIELA National Office
(+632) 3712302

 

           
           

 

Sa Morong 43 at sa ika Siyam na buwan ng kanilang pagkakasadlak sa karsel

by Pia Montalban

November 5, 2010

 

Isinasayaw ng hangin

ang bawat piraso ng dahong

nais mang sagipin

ay nalalagas pa ding kahapon.

 

Ilang buwan na nga ba

ang bumilog sa kalawakan

at nagpaputok sa bahay-bata

na inabutan ng kabuwanan?

 

Apat napu't tatlo'y

Apat napu't lima na

Ngunit ang kwento'y

lalong sumasama.

 

Hinahanap pa din natin

si Mario Condes,

at hinahanap pa din natin

ang hustisyang parang popularity contest.

 

Hinahanap pa din natin ang susi

sa saradong talinhaga

kung bakit ang rebeldeng nag-mutiny

ay unang makalalaya

kumpara sa aming sa baya'y gumagamot-nagsisilbi

ngunit pinararatangan pang mga NPA!

 

At ang matindi:

Hinahanap tayo

ng mga mamamayang

hindi inaabot ng serbisyong panlipunan.

Hinahanap tayo

ng mga mamamayang

kapos sa pangangalagang pangkalusugan.

Hinahanap tayo

ng mga batang paslit duon sa kanayunan,

ng bawat mga magsasaka't manggawang bukid,

na wala mang pambayad na kalakal sa ating hatid,

ay mga hindi mabayarang inspirasyon na sa ati'y nagbubulid---

 

Nagbubulid,

na ipagpatuloy

ang pagpapakatatag

sa daang tinahak---

 

Hindi landas na matuwid,

at walang balakid.

 

Hinahanap nila tayo,

at hinahanap natin ang hustisya,

at magtatagpo

itong dalawa,

 

isasayaw ng hangin

ang bawat piraso ng dahong

papalapit sa oras na papanagpuin

ang nalagas na kahapong

nagpanday sa ating paglilingkod at pakikibaka

 

isasanib natin ang ating puwersa

heringgilya at estetoskopo

sa karit at maso

ng magsasaka't manggagawa

 

papatag sa daang tinahak---

 

Hindi landas na matuwid,

at walang balakid.

 

ang daan patungo

sa kalsada ng kalayaan!

 

 

Tulak ng bibig, kabig ng dibdib (para sa Morong 43)
by Richard Gappi

October 29, 2010


Tulak ng bibig, kabig ng dibdib
(para sa Morong 43)

Nanawagan ngayon si Pangulong Noynoy Aquino
na palayain na si Aung San Suu Kyi, ang halal na pangulo
at lider ng Kilusang Demokrasya sa bansang Burma na inagawan
ng kalayaan at ikinulong ng militar matapos
ang kudeta at itatag ang junta.

Reaksyon ng pamunuang militar: "Pag-aaralan pa po natin."

Sa Filipinas, halos siyam na buwan nang nakakulong
ang mga manggagawang pangkalusugan
na tinatawag na "Morong 43,"
kabilang na ang dalawang ina na bagong
panganak. Hinablot sila ng militar
gamit ang palyadong arrest warrant
at palsipikadong ebidensya.
Sa loob at labas ng bansa, matagal nang
ipinapanawagan ng mga kakila, kaibigan, kamag-anak
ng Morong 43 at ng mga samahang nagtataguyod sa karapatang
pantao, ang kanilang agarang pagpapalaya.

Reaksyon ni Pangulong Aquino: "Pag-aaralan pa po natin."
 

- Richard R. Gappi
11:58AM, Biyernes, 29 Oktubre 2010
Angono, Rizal, Pilipinas

 

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

 

 

 

 

Morong 43 nursing mothers Maria Castro (center) and Judilyn Oliveros (right

 

 

Sa mga bunso nina Judilyn at Mercedes ng Morong 43
by Richard Gappi


Uha’t sumpong ng sanggol
uhaw na’t nagugutom.
Ngunit suso ng ina,
hablot ng bartolina.

-Richard R. Gappi
7:05AM, Martes, 26 Oktubre 2010
Angono, Rizal, Pilipinasabout an hour ago

 

 

Downl;oad:

 

■    Letter of Maria Mercedes Castro to Pres. Aquino

 

■    Letter of Judilyn Oliveros to Pres. Aquino

 

 

=          
==          
           

x

                                       DROIT-SOLIDARITE

                     (Association adhérente à l’Association Internationale des Juristes Démocrates)

                                       c/o cabinet Weyl-Porcheron 160 rue du Temple 75003 PARIS –

                                                   fax 0142780357                                                                                                                 

                          _____________________________________________________                    

         

                                                                                   Monsieur le Président Aquino

                                                                                   Malacannang Palace

                                                                                   Manille

 

                                                                                                    Paris le 18 octobre 2010

 

       Monsieur le Président,

 

                             Notre association, composée de juristes et de citoyens voulant agir dans le domaine du Droit, a été informée de la situation des 43 travailleurs de la santé poursuivis et emprisonnés après avoir été arrêtés dans des conditions brutales, et contre lesquels il apparaît que ne sont retenues que des preuves recueillies de façon tout-à-fait illégales et ne permettant pas de considérer qu'aucune charge puisse être retenue contre eux.                                             

 

                               Nous croyons donc devoir vous dire combien leur remise en liberté immédiate et l'abandon des poursuites contribuerait à donner à penser que les Philippines sont revenues à un véritable régime d'état de Droit.

 

                                Nous vous prions, Monsieur le Président, de croire à l'assurance de notre haute considération

 

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

Paris,

October 18, 2010

Mr. President:

Our association, composed of lawyers and civilians who want to respond on legal issues, was informed of the situation of 43 health workers who are prosecuted and imprisoned after being arrested in brutal conditions. It seems like there is no proof against them other than clearly illegally obtained elements, on which basis not a single charge can be kept against them.

We think we have to tell you how much their immediate release and dismissal of all charges will contribute to the idea that the Philippines have become a state were the rule of law is truly respected.

Yours sincerely,

Roland Weyl,
President
Droit Solidarite
Paris, France

 

Downloal: letter of Japanese lawyers to Pres. Aquino
 

Foreign lawyers visit Morong 43 detainees

Photos of visit of foreign lawyers courtesy of NUPL
           
     

 

 

HE Benigo C Aquino III

President, Republic of the Philippines

Malacanang Palace

JP Laurel Street, San Miguel

Manila

Philippines

By email

17 October 2010

 

Dear President Aquino

 

The 43 health workers known as the ‘Morong 43’

 

I am writing to you as chair of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers regarding the case of the Morong 43.

 

The Haldane Society has been following this case along with its colleagues at the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) from the time we heard of the arrest of the workers. We are aware of the illegality of the search given that the warrant was obtained for an entirely different person and premises than the conference centre where these workers were in a week-long training session. The illegal search makes the subsequent arrest of these workers illegal, as there were no arrest warrants. We are also aware that they were deprived of counsel for many days, and when they were rounded up at the conference centre there was ample opportunity for the military to plant incriminating evidence. We are also disturbed that the petition appealing the dismissal of the habeas corpus case from the Court of Appeals challenging the legality of the

search and their arrest has been pending at the Supreme Court for almost seven months.

 

Members of the Haldane Society’s executive committee attended the Fifth Conference of Lawyers of the Asia  Pacific (COLAP V) in Manila a few weeks ago. On 15 September, they were part of a delegation which met with Justice Secretary de Lima who assured them that she was reviewing the case. They met the prisoners on Monday 20 September, and observed their conditions of confinement. They also heard from the women prisoners that, based on their qualifications as health workers, they have been assisting the prison authorities in teaching health related subjects to the administration and the other prisoners.

 

I understand that the justice secretary has completed her review and has forwarded it to you for action. While I do not know what the justice secretary has concluded, I know from the meeting which my colleagues attended, that based on her work as head of the Human Rights Commission, she was aware of the facts of the case and the problems noted above regarding their arrest and detention. She also acknowledged the policy of previous administrations of legal harassment to which the workers claim they have been subjected. The Haldane Society, therefore hopes that she has recommended that the prosecutions be abandoned and that you will agree to this request.

 

I understand that the delegation who visited Camp Bagong were convinced of the sincerity and dedication of the health workers who want to provide medical support to the people of the Philippines who do not have access to medical care.

 

The Haldane Society requests that you take action as soon as possible to address the issues raised in the report by Secretary de Lima and move with dispatch to release the 43 who have now been held for more than eight months.

 

Yours sincerely

Liz Davies, Barrister and Chair

 

     
           
     

 

US National Lawyers Guild Emergency Resolution in support of Freedom for the 43 Health Workers in the Philippines
by Darby Santiago on Sunday, October 24, 2010 at 7:12am

EMERGENCY RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF
FREEDOM FOR THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS
IN THE PHILIPPINES

The US National Lawyers Guild takes note of the following facts:

1. On February 6, 2010 a force of 300 Philippine police and military illegally raided and abducted 43 community health workers including doctors and nurses who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines. These health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a week long First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD).
 

2. These health workers were being trained to go to rural areas where the government does not provide medical services and who are most vulnerable during devastating typhoons which have been hitting the Philippines and devastating many rural communities. But, because people in many of these rural country side areas are considered enemies of the state, the government as part of its “counterinsurgency plan” targets people such as these health workers claiming they are in fact part of the insurgent movement in the Philippines and if the work is of a progressive nature they are assumed to be members of the New People’s Army.
 

3. The training took place at a conference center owned by a renowned Doctor in the Philippines. The workers were rounded up and taken to the central conference room while the military conducted an illegal search of the cabins and grounds, and claimed to have found a gun and some explosive materials. The workers deny any connection to such materials and believe that the evidence was planted. Their personal belongings, as well the training m materials used, were all confiscated by the military.
 

4. These arrests represent the single biggest number of activists arrested in one day in the history of the Philippines.
 

5. The lawyers for the workers immediately filed a petition for habeas corpus, claiming the search warrant was defective and the arrest illegal. Marcos era law indicates that if those arrested are charged within 36 hours the illegality of the search and arrest cannot be attacked in a habeas petition. . In this case the charges, of possession of explosives, a non bailable offense, were not filed until 5 days later.
 

6. The Supreme Court where the habeas was initially filed referred the case back to the court of appeal. The court of appeal at first split 2-1 in favor of granting the habeas, but the government then added two more judges to the appeals panel making resulting in a 3-2 denial of the habeas.
 

7. The lawyers have appealed the cases to the Supreme Court which has not acted.
 

8. In the meantime the 43 were held in Military camps until May 1, 2010. For days they were deprived the right to counsel during interrogation and there are many reports of sleep deprivation, beatings, electrical shock and the like.
 

9. Although they were transferred to jails near Manila in May their cases are in limbo. They cannot be arraigned and tried while the habeas is pending because under Philippine law, if they are arraigned they lose the right to challenge the illegality of the search and the arrests through a habeas and a potential trial of all 43 would take years.
 

10. On September 15, 2010 members of the IADL bureau met with the new Justice Secretary (attorney general) Ms. Leila de Lima, and urged her to conduct a review of these cases, Ms. De Lima had been the head of the Human Rights Commission before the recent election of Ninoy Aquino and had investigated the legality of the arrests, and was about to issue the report when she was appointed Justice Secretary by the new government. She had agreed before her meeting with the IADL bureau to review these cases, and render an opinion on whether the cases should go forward.
 

11. The IADL at its bureau meeting in Manila on September 16-17, 2010 decided to launch a world wide campaign to continue the pressure on the government to rescind the charges against these health workers and in particular to ensure that the Justice Secretary will act quickly to review the charges and withdraw them. IADL is asking that National Affiliates such the NLG join in this effort.

Based on the foregoing recitation of the facts, the NLG hereby resolves to

1. Send a letter to the Justice Secretary to express our concern for the rights of these health workers, and requesting her to review and rescind the charges;
2. Send a delegation to meet the Philippine Ambassador in the US to discuss this case with the Ambassador;
3. Issue a press statement calling for the release of the 43 workers;
4. Disseminate this resolution to other bar associations requesting they take similar actions as noted in 1,2, and 3 above.
5. Work with the Philippine Subcommittee of the International Committee to make the case of these workers known throughout the NLG.

 

     
     
           
     

 

 

NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations

www.lrwc.org; lrwc@portal.ca; Tel : +1 604 738 0338 ;Fax : +1 604 736 1175

Promoting human rights by protecting those who defend them

 

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

 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

 

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila, Philippines
Voice: +63(2) 564 1451
Fax: +63(2) 742 1641 ; +63(2) 929 3968
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph;
Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line: +63(2) 521 8344 ; +63(2) 521 3721
Trunkline:  +63(2) 523 8481 loc.214
Fax: +63(2) 521-1614
Email:  soj@doj.gov.ph


Honourable President Aguino and Secretary De Lima;

 

                        Re: Release of Health Care Workers arrested February 6, 2010  

 

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) requests that your government act to remedy the illegal arrest, detention and treatment of the 43 health care workers arrested at Rizal on February 6, 2010 and the violations of their internationally protected rights by immediately directing:

 

1.      The withdrawal of all charges against each and all of them; and,

2.      The release of all 43 detained health care workers.

 

LRWC investigations

 

NGOs around the world have expressed the opinion that the charges against the 43 health care workers are trumped up and the evidence against them fabricated to ensure false convictions and have called for their unconditional release. The list of NGOs includes august groups such as Amnesty International. Attached as Appendix II is a partial list of Canadian NGOs calling for the release of the health care workers.   

 

LRWC—as a result of our own investigations—agrees with this assessment. LRWC is further of the opinion that the charges against the 43 health care workers (illegal possession of firearms and explosives and violation of the Commission on Elections gun ban) are not sustainable and cannot result in bona fides convictions before a properly constituted court because of tainted evidence, denial of rights to timely access to counsel, due process and a fair trial and illegal treatment during arrest and imprisonment. Attached as Appendix I to this letter is a LRWC’s brief summary of violations of international law obligations by Philippine authorities in the health workers' case.

 

The evidence upon which the health care workers are being held (on non-bailable offences) has been obtained under circumstances that either forbid admissibility in a court of law or destroy reliability. For example, alleged statements by the 5 people still held separately (that they are members of the New People’s Army) appear inadmissible by virtue of the illegal treatment used to obtain the statements which available reports indicated included torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, denial of access to lawyers, bribery and intimidation. Factors indicating that physical evidence (C4 explosives, pistol, grenades and improvised land mines) alleged to have been found on the Velmonte property was planted that cannot be ignored include: opportunity, absence of arrest warrants, absence of valid search warrants for the premises, failure to ensure that the search of the premises was witnessed any independent party or representative of the accused, failure to ensure that the search of the premises was  supervised by appropriately trained police personnel, extraordinary measures (blindfolding) taken to prevent the accused from observing or overseeing in any way the search of the premises, failure to advise arrestees of the allegations against them, the reasons for their arrest or the reason for the search of the premises.

 

The legal options available to the detainees appear strikingly impotent to secure a timely judicial review of the legality of their arrest, treatment and detention and of the search of the property. Similarly calls on the Office of the Human Rights Commission to ensure a professional review of allegations that evidence against them has been fabricated or illegally obtained appear to have been futile and resulting in a remedy. Clearly the rights of the 43 health care workers to due process and a fair trial and to remedies for the violation of their internationally protected rights have already been so severely impaired as to foreclose their right to make full answer and defense to the charges they presently face.  The habeas corpus proceedings initially filed February 9, 2010 has been stalled for almost 8 months. This delay raises the concern of executive interfere—again fatal to the legitimacy of the procedure.

 

During our deliberations, LRWC has also considered the records of community service of the various people accused and implicated by these proceedings. Dr. Melicia Velmonte, owner of the property in question, Chairman of COMMED, a well-known infectious disease specialist and professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine is, we believe, most unlikely to be involved in an illegal enterprise. Similarly, the records of community health care service of Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor (Director of Health Education, Training and Services Department, Council for health and Development), Gary Liberal (registered nurse, operating room head nurse and union President of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center), Teresa Quinawagan, (midwife), Dr. Alexis Montes, (member of the Community Medicine Development Foundation), Lydia Obera (staff of Alliance of Health Workers), Reynaldo Maqabenta (driver for Community for Health and Development) inspires disbelief in their criminality. We urge a solution before more damage is done. In particular we wish to highlight the urgent need to protect the rights of the next generation. Mercy Castro is due to deliver her baby on October 27, 2010. She must be freed before her due date. No proper provisions have been made for her medical care and attention before, during or after delivery.  We are advised that Carina Judilyn Oliveros had her baby in custody in July, that she is currently under hospital arrest with her infant and will be returned to Camp Bagong Diwa at the expiry of 3 months. Clearly continued detention of Ms Oliveros can only have negative long term consequences for the infant.     

 

LRWC investigations included: a visit on September 20, 2010 to the prisoners at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City, interviews with legal counsel, a review of the recommendations and conclusions by other human rights organizations about the mal fides of the arrest, detention, treatment and about the charges themselves and a review of the international law bonding on the Philippines and relevant to the issues.    

 

Based on LRWC’s examination of the facts, it is clear that the continued detention of the 43 health care workers will indubitably result in risks to the communities that were being served by them. We note in particular the record of service of the two doctors, the nurse and the midwives detained. It is likely that continued detention of the 43 health care workers may result in irremediable personal and professional harm to some or all of them. We are aware of both the abysmal circumstances in which they are detained and of the pain of being separated from their work, their communities and their families.

 

Based on LRWC’s examination of the applicable international law, it is clear that the illegal arrests, the improperly authorized and supervised search of Dr. Velmonte’s property, the exposure of the health care workers to treatment absolutely prohibited under international law and the denial of due process critical to a fair trial, combine to irremediably impair their right to a fair trial. We conclude that the remedy required is withdrawal of all charges and release. We know of no factors and no law that legitimately authorizes continued detention. We note that continued detention may in itself constitute a violation by the government of the Philippines , to ensure rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is well established that state party to this treaty must as an essential part of the duty to ensure protected rights, act quickly to provide effective remedies for violations. (Appendix I)

 

All of which is respectfully submitted.

 

We look forward to further communications with your office and remain ready to answer inquires or provide additional information.

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC

cc.

Loretta Ann Rosales
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: +63(2) 928 5655 ; +63(2) 926 6188
Fax: +63(2) 929 0102 Email: coco.chrp@gmail.com

 

Edre Olalia

Acting Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers,

Tel: 011 63 2 9206660; email: hoyuhee@yahoo.com

 

Dr. Julie Caguiat,

Chairperson of the Community Health Development (CHD)

and the Spokesperson of the "Free the 43" Health Workers

22/F, Erythrina Building , #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets, Brgy,

Central District Quezon City , Philippines .

(+632) 4342837; Fax (+632( 4354146 freethe43@yahoo.com

 

James Trottier

Canadian Embassy

Head of Pol/Eco Relations and Public Affairs

Levels 6-8, Tower 2

RCBC Plaza
6819 Ayala Avenue , Makati City 1200
PO Box 2098 ,
Philippines

VIA FACSIMILE to 011 632 843 1975

Tel: (632) 857 9024 James.trotteir@international.gc.ca

 

APPENDIX I

 

The Philippines ’ International Law Obligations

 

A.        Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  (UNCAT)

 

A.1       Duty to prevent and punish torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (torture).

 

The Philippines has a number of inescapable duties arising from UNCAT[1]: to prevent torture, to investigate allegations of torture, to prosecute suspected perpetrators and to punish those convicted. There is also a duty to ensure that evidence obtained through torture will not be used in a court of law.

 

LRWC’s investigations indicate violations of the health care workers’ rights to: freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment; to a prompt and competent investigation of torture complaints; right to be protected from further ill treatment.  We understand that there has been no assurance that the prosecution will not seek to introduce as evidence against the health care workers statements made and evidence obtained as a result of torture.

A.2      Failure to investigate allegations of torture

 

Just as freedom from torture in a non-derogable right that the state is obliged to vigorously protect under all circumstances, so the Philippines (under Art. 12) has an urgent duty to investigate allegations of torture and of other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as part of its duty to prevent such crimes.   We know of no investigation of the serious allegations of torture used on the health care workers during the days after their arrest.  CAT Committee rulings establish that delay by a state to investigate allegations of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment is itself a violation of CAT.[2] The Philippine’s duty to investigate became imperative, at the latest, in March 2010 by which time notice had been given that the health care workers had been subjected to a variety of prohibited treatments designed to force confessions and compliance.

 

B.     International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

 

The Philippines has an obligation arising from the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ICCPR to ensure and protect the health care workers’ rights to:

  • a fair trial (art. 14, see text below),

  • freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention (art. 9(1) “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.”)

  • habeas corpus (art. 9(4) “Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.”)

 

The delay in the hearing of habeas corpus petition has effectively denied this right of review and resulted in the detention being arbitrary.

 

B.1      Failure to ensure fair trial rights

 

The right to a fair trail, although not specifically designated as a non-derogable right by the text of the ICCPR, represents the procedural means to ensure the enjoyment of the non-derogable rights. The Human Rights Committee has established in General Comment 29 that “procedural safeguards may never be made subject to measures that would circumvent the protection of non-derogable rights”.[3]

 

As you are aware, the right to fair trail cannot be displaced even when States are challenged with the most adverse situations. The ICCPR, articulates basic fair trial rights in Article 14:

 

1. All persons shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law. ….

2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

3. In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality:

(a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him;

(b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing;

(c) To be tried without undue delay;

(d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it;

(e) To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

(g) Not to be compelled to testify against himself or to confess guilt.[4]

 

The Philippines has not to our knowledge, notified the UN Secretary General on the derogation of any of the rights enshrined in the ICCPR as per the requirement of Article 4.  Thus, the rights guaranteed by Article 14 must be respected and protected by the Philippines . 

 

B.2  Failure to allow timely access to counsel

 

International human rights jurisprudence has determined that the duty of a State to ensure

fair trail rights implies a set of obligations. Firstly, State officials must allow lawyers the contact with clients necessary to the preparation and presentation of a full defense and the protection of their rights. In casu, the 5-day delay in allowing communications between the health care workers and their lawyers—during the period when the health care workers were subjected to egregious rights violations—irremediably impaired the lawyers’ ability to adequately protect their clients’ rights.

 

◄◄◄

     
     
     
     
     
     

 

The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers further requires states to ensure that access to legal counsel by detained persons such as the health care workers, is prompt, confidential and free from interference. Article 8, states as follows:

 

All arrested, detained or imprisoned persons shall be provided with adequate opportunities, time and facilities to be visited by and to communicate and consult with a lawyer, without delay, interception or censorship and in full confidentiality. Such consultations may be within sight, but not within the hearing, of law enforcement officials.9

 

The importance of timely access was emphasized by the European Court of Human Rights in Magge v. UK where the court determined that denial of access to a lawyer for a period of 48 hours constituted a violation of Article 6 (right to fair trail) of the European Convention on Human Rights: In the Court's opinion, to deny access to a lawyer for such a long period [48 hours] and in a situation where the rights of the defence were irretrievably prejudiced is – whatever the justification for such denial – incompatible with the rights of the accused under Article 6.

 

In the case of the health care workers, the Philippines denied access to lawyers for the first 5 critical days after their arrest. It is reasonable to conclude that the health care workers rights to defend the charges have been, by the denial of access to lawyers alone, irretrievably prejudiced.

 

B.3      Failure to provide full disclosure

 

Secondly, States must allow access to the case files, in order for the accused’s lawyer(s) to: learn full particulars of the charges, know the particulars of inculpatory and exculpatory evidence in the possession of the prosecution and to have access to the information relevant to issues of admissibility and reliability. We understand that this type of disclosure has not yet occurred in spite of the very serious allegations indicating that evidence may have been fabricated, obtained through torture and planted by people other than the health care workers. 

 

We conclude that the fair trial rights of the health care workers have been irremediably compromised and that a withdrawal of charges is required. 

 

 

C.     Failure to comply with international human rights obligations

 

Neither domestic law nor the exigencies of national problems displace or diminish these international law obligations. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties determines that State parties are bound by their treaty obligations and that all treaty obligations must be performed in good faith (the principle of pact sunt servanda).[5] Article 27 of the Vienna Convention reads: “A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.”

 

It is important to remember that actions of the previous government in the arrest, treatment and detention of the health care workers cannot be justified as part of a larger anti-terrorism campaign—albeit against the wrong people. The Philippines has a duty, in acting to combat terrorism, to comply with all international human rights and humanitarian law obligations.  The UN Security Council has clearly stated this obligation in Resolution 1456 (2003),

 

"States must ensure that any measure taken to combat terrorism comply with all

their obligations under international law, and should adopt such measures in

accordance with international law, in particular international human rights,

refugee, and humanitarian law."

 

 

APPENDIX II

 

Canadian NGOs requesting the release of the 43 health care workers

 

1.  The United Church of Canada
2.  Centre for Philippine Concerns
3.  Canada-Philippines for Human Rights in the Philippines (CPSHR) 
4.  KAIROS-Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
5.  Ottawa Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
6.  PINAY (Filipino Women's Organization in Québec)      
7.  Development and Peace
8.  Philippine Solidarity Group - Toronto
9.  Migrante-Ontario
10.  Victoria Philippines Solidarity Group
11.  Mining Watch Canada                                                      
12.  Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 4600

13.  Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

14.  Beaconsfield United Church
15.  Alliance for Peoples' Health (APH)
16.  Hon. Mable Elmore, Member of the Legislative Assembly
17.  Migrante-BC
18.  People's International Observers Mission- BC contingent/delegates

19. Lawyers Rights Watch Canada

 


[1] UN General Assembly, Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 10 December 1984, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1465, p. 85, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3ae6b3a94.html [accessed 29 September 2010] Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984. Entry into force 26 June 1987, in accordance with article 27 (1). Ratified by the Philippines 26 June 1987.

[2] See Blanco Abad v. Spain where a delay of 32 days was held by the CAT Committee to be a breach of CAT Article 12. 

[3] Human Rights Committee, General Comment 29, States of Emergency (article 4), U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.11 (2001), para. 15. http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/gencomm/hrc29.html

[4] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No.

16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976. Ratified by the

Philippines on 23 January 1987.

 

[5] Article 26 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, entered into force on 27 January 1980. U.N.T.S. Vol. 1155, p. 331 [ Vienna Convention].





Lawyers Rights Watch Canada : Release of Health Care Workers                                                                     1 of 7

 

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“The world is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don't do anything about it.” Albert Einstein

 

 
           
At the United Nationas Human Rights Council in Geneva
     

x

PRESS RELEASE – 14 June 2010

  

KARAPATAN files report on Morong 43 to UN Special Rapporteur and Working Group


Geneva, June 10 -  The Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines, or ECU VOICE accompanied KARAPATAN in filing a report on the Morong 43 incident to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The same report was submitted to Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council.

In his letter to Special Rapporteur, Mr. Manfred Novak and Ms. Shaheen Sardar Ali, Vice-Chair Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the UN Human Rights Council, Mr. Jigs Clamor said, “43 health workers in the Philippines were illegally arrested, tortured and falsely charged with common crimes and are presently detained at a detention facility at camp Bagong Diwa in Taguiug City, Metro Manila, Philippines.  These community health workers, one of whom is my wife, Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, provide health services to the poor and hard-to-reach communities in the country.  They were conducting a training for community health workers on February 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal, when a composite group of heavily armed Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Army (PA) elements raided the venue of the training, blindfolded the victims and herded them like cattle into Army trucks and brought to an  undisclosed place.” Clamor is the Deputy Secretary General of KARAPATAN.

Clamor said the report is to inform the UN in
Geneva of this incident now known as the Morong 43 so that the Human Rights Council can help urge the Philippine government to render justice to the victims. The Philippine government is a member of the Council.  Clamor said “the Morong 43, like the case of the massacre of 57 Filipinos in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, Philippines in November 2009, is emblematic of the gross, systematic human rights violations and the brazen impunity by which these are committed by the perpetrators, occurring in the country. These violations are being committed under the framework of a brutal, vicious counter-insurgency program being implemented by the Arroyo administration to supposedly end the insurgency upon the end of President Arroyo’s term in June of this year.”

Clamor expressed the hope that the Human Rights Council will look into the Morong 43 “and help us realize some remedies for our loved ones, if not their immediate release from prison.”

The ECU VOICE delegation attended the 14th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in
Geneva, Switzerland. The delegation is composed Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr., General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), with Marie Hilao Enriquez, Chairperson of the human rights alliance, KARAPATAN, Atty. Edre Olalia, Acting Secretary General of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Atty. Carlos Zarate, Secretary General of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) and one of the lawyers for Atty. Connie Brizuela who was among the victims of the Ampatuan massacre; Dr. Angie Gonzales of the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, and  Jigs Clamor, Deputy Secretary General of KARAPATAN.

 

 

Reference:         Rev. Rex B. Reyes, Jr.
                       
Mobile (roaming): +63 9267048249

 

     
           
     
     
     

 

Court Documents and Testimonies

 

1- Search Warrant M43.Pdf Fro Manuel Condes
2- Xca Concurring Opinion M43.Pdf
3- Ca Decision Morong 43.Pdf
4- CA RESO MAR 15 2010.Pdf
5- CHR Complaint Morong 43.Doc
6- CHR Order On Morong 43.Pdf
7- Chr Twin Order.Pdf
8- Comment_Rtc Morong.Pdf
9- Compliance_Chr M43.Doc
10- Dissenting Opinion Ca M43.Pdf
11- Doj Resolution.Pdf
12- Ebc-Aff.Doc
13- Editted Final Memorandum Morong 43.Doc
14- Feb 10 Sc Resolution.Pdf
15- Final Accounts Of Doctors.Doc
16- Final Chronology Of Expeiences Of Relatives Morong.Doc
17- Final Morong 43 Chronology Of Experiences Of Complainants-Detainees.Doc
 

 

 

18- Habeas Corpus Petition.Doc
19- Info 10 9081.Pdf
20- Info 109078.Pdf
21- Info 109079.Pdf
22- Info 7082.Pdf
23-  Info109080.Pdf
24- Info7083.Pdf
25- Info7084.Pdf
26- Manifestation With Opposition.Pdf
27- Memorandum_Rtc Morong.Pdf
28- Morong RTC Decision Re Transfer.Pdf
29- Motion To Transfer Ca_M43.Pdf
30- Note.Txt
31- NOTICE OF APPEAL.Pdf
32- Petition For Habeas Morong 43.Doc
 

DOWNLOAD ALL DOCUMENTS

           

One-page ad in the Inquirer for the release of the Morong 43 with signatories from various sectors that includes government and church officials,

local and international lawyers, former DOH secretaries, artists,  various sectoral leaders, etc.

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