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
|Morong 43 nursing mothers Maria Castro (center) and Judilyn Oliveros (right|
November 6, 2010 marks the ninth month in detention of
the Morong 43.
▲ Photos by Karapatan ▼
No to double standard, release the Morong 43 --
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
Photos by Migrante- Middle East
2010; Sun; 547pm
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
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:
ng mga mamamayang
hindi inaabot ng serbisyong panlipunan.
ng mga mamamayang
kapos sa pangangalagang pangkalusugan.
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---
sa daang tinahak---
Hindi landas na matuwid,
at walang balakid.
Hinahanap nila tayo,
at hinahanap natin ang hustisya,
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!
October 29, 2010
- Richard R. Gappi
Morong 43 nursing mothers Maria Castro (center) and Judilyn Oliveros (right
(Association adhérente à l’Association Internationale des Juristes Démocrates)
c/o cabinet Weyl-Porcheron 160 rue du Temple 75003 PARIS –
Monsieur le Président Aquino
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
October 18, 2010
|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
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
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.
Liz Davies, Barrister and Chair
US National Lawyers Guild Emergency
Resolution in support of Freedom for the 43 Health Workers in the
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
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
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.
Promoting human rights by protecting those who defend them
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
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.
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.
Gail Davidson, Executive Director, LRWC
Loretta Ann Rosales
Acting Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers,
Tel: 011 63 2 9206660; email: email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Head of Pol/Eco Relations and Public Affairs
Levels 6-8, Tower 2
VIA FACSIMILE to 011 632 843 1975
Tel: (632) 857 9024 James.email@example.com
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: 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. 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:
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”.
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.
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). 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."
Canadian NGOs requesting the release of the 43 health care workers
The United Church of Canada
13. Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund
Beaconsfield United Church
19. Lawyers Rights Watch Canada
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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
“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|
PRESS RELEASE – 14 June 2010
KARAPATAN files report on Morong 43 to UN Special Rapporteur and Working Group
Reference: Rev. Rex B. Reyes, Jr.
1- Search Warrant M43.Pdf
Fro Manuel Condes
18- Habeas Corpus
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.