of Roselle Pineda, Sarah Raymundo and Abby Valenzuela as indicated by the
10 December 2010
HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES
CONTINUE WITH IMPUNITY UNDER PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO III
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, we commend the Filipino
people’s militant struggle for freedom and democracy and their
international solidarity for defending and asserting human rights. This
struggle has become more important and necessary with the worsening human
rights violations and continuing impunity under the administration of
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
Nothing has changed under Aquino. Social injustice persists. Civil and
political rights are under attack. The Aquino government legitimizes
continuing state violence and repression, absconding its responsibility to
release the Morong 43 and all political detainees.
Ironically, Aquino has called for the release of Burma’s pro-democracy
leader Aung Sun Suu Kyi. He has granted amnesty to hundreds of soldiers
who have engaged in at least three attempts of mutiny. But he remains
intransigent in freeing the 43 illegally searched, arrested, detained and
tortured health workers and the rest of at least 374 political prisoners
in his own country.
The “war on terror” launched by the past regime is being continued by
Aquino with the US government’s full financial, political and military
support under a “new” counter-insurgency strategy. Trumped-up charges
filed by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against
leaders, organizers and members of progressive organizations are becoming
the norm and are utilized to conduct actual raids of offices and arrests.
Harassments and surveillance of human rights defenders are intensifying
under this new administration that is supposed to be determined to take
the matuwid na landas (straight or righteous path)
There were 18 victims killed during the last six months of Macapagal-Arroyo.
There are now at least 25 victims of extra-judicial killings (EJK’s)
barely five months after Aquino took over (July 1 – November 30, 2010).
No amount of redefining to “de-politicize” the extrajudicial killings
could hide the truth that political killings in the Philippines continue.
These have even worsened under Aquino.
Civilians have been killed in the AFP’s version of “crossfires” with New
People’s Army (NPA) rebels where there were really none. We grieve for the
loss of the country’s top botanist, Leonard Co, his two assistants and
other victims of indiscriminate firing justified by the military as
“legitimate military operations”. We shall pursue justice to the end and
make the culprits answer for their heinous crimes.
While we laud the latest positive developments in peace negotiations
between the government and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),
reaching a 20-day holiday truce and tentative schedule of talks early next
year, we deem it necessary for Pres. Aquino to be true to his pledge
before foreign diplomats and the public of respecting human rights.
Finally, we seek genuine social justice for the overwhelming majority of
the Filipino people as we link up in arms with the international community
in the struggle for human rights.
On International Human Rights Day, we reiterate our call:
Free the Morong 43 and all political detainees!
Justice to all victims of human rights violations!
Uphold human rights, freedom and democracy! ###
Jigs Clamor, Acting Secretary General (0920-946-6210)
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human
rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual
advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and
civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights
violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training
and campaign. It was established in 1995.
10 December 2010
PEOPLES’ LAWYERS CALL FOR EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
TO HR VIOLATIONS
In commemoration of international human rights day
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day on December 10, the
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) reiterates its call for justice
for victims of human rights violations and calls on the Aquino government
to implement more effective measures for the protection of the Filipino
people’s fundamental rights.
Citing the continuing instances of extrajudicial killings, enforced
disappearances, illegal detention, and other forms of repression, NUPL
Secretary General Atty. Edre U. Olalia stated that the human rights
situation in the Philippines this year remains a cause for concern.
“Despite the change in political leadership, 2010 is still a dismal year
for human rights in our country. Even as we commemorate the 62nd year of
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, most of its guarantees remain
paper-promises to the majority of Filipinos, especially to the poor and
marginalized, who are often denied access to justice,” said Olalia.
Many of the most serious cases of human rights violations committed during
former President Macapagal-Arroyo’s term have yet to be resolved. Twenty
cases of extrajudicial killings, two enforced disappearances, and 16
instances of torture have already been recorded by human rights group
Karapatan during the first four months of the present administration.
This year has also been witness to ten months of unjust detention for the
43 health workers illegally arrested in Morong, Rizal last year.
Individuals and organizations from various sectors, including several
national and international lawyers’ associations, have called for the
release of the Morong 43. To date, however, President Benigno “Noynoy”
Aquino III has not directed the withdrawal of charges against them, and
the detainees have been on a hunger strike for the past week to protest
against the continued denial of their rights. NUPL serves as co-counsel to
the Morong 43, along with the Public Interest Law Center (PILC).
The situation is also similarly bleak as far as economic, social, and
cultural rights are concerned. After decades of struggle for genuine land
reform, no resolution has been reached in the case for redistribution of
land to the farmers of Hacienda Luisita, which is owned by the current
President’s family. Neither has justice been achieved for the families of
the 14 farm workers who were killed in the Hacienda Luisita massacre in
“Contrary to its promise of reform, impunity for human rights violations
persists under the Aquino administration,” Olalia declared. “We call on
the government to heed the people’s plea and initiate concrete responses
to the alarming human rights situation in our country.”
Atty. Edre Olalia
Secretary General, NUPL
Contact no.: (0917)511-3373
National Union of Peoples' Lawyers(NUPL)
3F Erythrina Bldg., Maaralin corner Matatag Sts. Central District,Quezon
Tel.No.920-6660,Telefax No. 927- 2812
Email addresses:firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
"Visit the NUPL at http://www.nupl.net/
By calling yourselves the 'people's lawyer,' you have made a remarkable
choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human rights are
assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the fence for the
dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to fight on the
battlefield live beyond irrelevance." Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato
S. Puno, in his message to the NUPL Founding Congress,Sept. 15, 2007
Angono 3/7 Poetry Society-Tula-Sasalubungin
ko ng Tula ang Pandaigdigang Araw ng Karapatang Pantao
by Richard Gappi on Friday, December 10, 2010 at 12:30am
Sasalubungin ko ng Tula ang Pandaigdigang
Araw ng Karapatang Pantao
Tulad ng Bagong Taon.
Magiging silong ng langit ang aking papel.
Doon magpapaputok ako ng labentador.
Magpapalipad ng kwitis.
Maging mantel din itong sasapo
sa iba't ibang inumin at pagkain.
Kahit ngayon, mahimbing ang idlip ng daigdig
at maaaring Sila ay pinaghehele ng panaginip.
Sasalubungin ko ng Tula
ang Pandaigdigang Araw ng Karapatang Pantao.
Dahil ang Karapatang Pantao
ang gumigising sa atin kung tayo'y natutulog
ang bumubusog sa atin kung tayo'y nagugutom
ang bukal kung nais nating maampat ang uhaw
laluna sa panahon ngayon
na sugat-sugat ang balat ng Daigdig
at nawawarat ang kanyang kaluluwa.
Ngunit kahit ganito,
sasalubungin ko pa rin ng tula
ang Pandaigdigang Araw ng Karapatang Pantao.
Dahil kung walang tula
Dahil kung walang karapatang pantao
Mabubuhay tayo sa lumang Daigdig
At walang saysay ang tao
kung bakit tayo nandito sa mundo.
Dahil sa tula at karapatang pantao,
higit tayong nagiging tao.
At kung bakit laging makahulugan,
balon na hindi natutuyo,
ang bawat bagong sibol na araw.
Ang Bagong Tao.
Ang Bagong Taon.
-Richard R. Gappi
12:05AM, Biyernes, 10 Disyembre 2010
Angono, Rizal, Pilipinas
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
December 10, 2010
THE AQUINO GOVERNMENT CONTINUES THE FASCIST LEGACY OF THE US-ARROYO
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines in Mindanao (NDFP-Mindanao)
unites with the entire Filipino nation in commemorating International
Human Rights Day and remembering all activists and masses – martyrs and
heroes of our time – who have fallen victims to the gravest abuses against
human rights perpetrated by fascist agents and running dogs of previous
and current reactionary regimes. We also join the whole Filipino people
and the international community in voicing our strongest condemnation, and
demand for justice to all the victims.
As we mark this day with indignation and protests, the NDFP – Mindanao,
together with all revolutionary forces, strives to intensify people’s
struggle to put an end to social inequity and repression that spawn grave
violations against civil and political rights. The people’s struggle for
basic human rights also include the right to basic necessities, such as
decent food, shelter and clothing; freedom from fear; and the right to
enjoy an atmosphere of peace. Even UN Raporteur on Human Rights Philip
Alston said that the reactionary bourgeois state, through its mercenary
AFP, PNP, paramilitary forces and the so-called private armies, is the
biggest human rights violator in the Philippines.
In recent past, the most vicious human rights violations were committed in
the last nine years under the reign of the US-Arroyo regime. During this
time, the US-Arroyo regime’s suppression campaign OBL 1 (2001-2006) and 2
(2007 –June 2010) gave rise to human rights violations, especially in
Mindanao, against millions of people, Moro and non-Moro alike, in cities
and in the countryside, which include indiscriminate killings, arson,
torture, rape, enforced disappearances and the massive dislocation of
Extra judicial killings committed with impunity under the US-Arroyo regime
came to a staggering more than 1,200 lives of activists, lawyers, media
workers and church leaders snuffed out. In Mindanao, 103 individuals in
the Southern Mindanao Region have fallen victim to summary executions; 34,
in North East Mindanao; 31, in North Central Mindanao; and, 32 in the
Western Mindanao Region.
The Moro people, who are currently waging a battle for the recognition of
their right to self-determination, have also been targets of
extra-judicial killings, where under Arroyo’s reign of terror, 147 Moro
died of summary killings in predominantly Moro areas, which brings to a
total of 336 individuals felled by summary executions in Mindanao. The
most grievous and grizzly of human rights violations happened right smack
in Moro land when the Ampatuan warlords, sired and cultivated by Arroyo,
mercilessly massacred 58, including journalists and lawyers. The combined
reign of terror in the name of counter-insurgency of both the Estrada and
Arroyo regimes have caused unimaginable economic, psychological, and
social dislocation of millions of people in Mindanao.
Despite Mr. Aquino’s rhetoric of ending human rights violations, the first
5 months (June – October) alone of his regime took, summary execution
style, the lives of 20 individuals, including activists and journalists.
Particularly in Mindanao, 3 have already perished through extra-judicial
murders in Southern Mindanao and 2 in the North Central Mindanao Region.
And, the extension of OBL until end of 2010 saw the displacement of
numerous peasants from the countryside because of massive military
offensive operations, particularly in the provinces of Surigao del Sur,
Compostela Valley, and in certain Moro areas. Worse, it failed to hold
these criminals behind bars!
We have to be aware that these human rights violations have always been an
inseparable component of counter-insurgency suppression campaigns, which
have elicited massive local and international public outcry, rage, and
mounting protests in cities and urban centers across the country and the
world. Alarmingly, all indications tend to show that the US-Aquino regime
carries the same contemptuous attitude and policies of the previous
regimes as regards human rights.
Now that the revolutionary movement led by the Communist Party of the
Philippines is unstoppably marching forward in spite of the brutal
suppression campaign of all previous regimes, we can expect that human
rights violations would even exacerbate, especially so that the new
suppression campaign hatched by the US-Aquino regime is patterned after
the counter-insurgency (COIN) guide of its US imperialist master. The AFP,
the proven biggest human rights violator in the country, has ironically
presented themselves as the biggest human rights advocate in the guise of
the Community Organizers for Peace and Development (COPD) rehashed from
the dreaded special operation teams (SOT).
Human rights violations have been inflicted against the people for the
protection of the selfish economic interests of the ruling class and their
imperialist masters, as seen in the violent suppression of the peasant
struggle for genuine land reform, of workers’ rights to just wages and to
form unions, of students’ right to education, of the Moros’ and Lumads’
right to self-determination, and of the entire nation against US
imperialist intervention. The worst manifestation of this was the Mendiola
and the Hacienda Luisita massacres, where the peasants’ aspiration for
land ended brutally in the name of the Cojuanco-Aquino clan to which the
“icon of democracy,” Cory Aquino, and Noynoy belongs. Recently, we
witnessed the violent dispersal of protesting kuliglig drivers as well as
of students in Manila. In Mindanao, the suppression of workers’ basic
rights continue in Filipinas Oil Palm in Agusan del Sur, DoleFil in South
Cotabato, and in other local enterprises.
The recent breakthrough with regard to the formal resumption of talks
between the GRP and the NDFP gives the people something to look forward
to, hoping that the GRP would honor previously mutually-signed agreements,
and take positive gestures, such as releasing all political detainees and
prosecuting immediately under its judicial system human rights violators
with cases lodged in the GRP-NDFP Joint Monitoring Committee.
The NDFP-Mindanao enjoins the people to unite in exposing and opposing the
current regime’s fascism, which breeds and inflicts the most vile human
rights violation against the populace. The people must demand and fight
for justice for the victims of human rights violations, and press the US-Aquino
regime to honor and implement the human rights provisions stipulated in
Genuine justice can only be attained when the three basic problems of
imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism are crushed, and the
people’s democratic revolution is victorious!
Justice for the victims of the Mendiola massacre and Hacienda Luisita
Justice for the victims of the Maguindanao massacre!
Justice for all victims of extra-judicial killings!
Justice for all victims of social injustice!
Onward with the people’s struggle for national freedom and democracy!
(Sgd.) Ka Oris
December 10, 2010
Scientists group AGHAM calls for justice for Leonard Co, Sofronio
Cortez and Julius Borromeo!
End impunity! Justice for all victims of human rights violations!
Scientists group AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the
People) joins the country in celebrating the International Human Rights
day by adding its numbers to a human chain along Espana and Morayta.
Dr. Giovanni Tapang, chairperson of AGHAM, said that they joined the
commemoration especially since the recent killings of botanist Leonard Co
and his companions, Sofronio Cortez and Julius Borromeo in Kananga, Leyte.
" We are reminded by the killings of Leonard Co, Sofronio Cortez and
Julius Borromeo that rampant violations of human rights all over the
nation continues even as we celebrate the 62nd year of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) today," noted Dr. Tapang.
Leonardo Co, renowned conservationist and botanist in the country, along
with forester Sofronio Cortez and farmer Julius Borromeo was killed by
elements of the 19th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army in November
15, 2010. The research team was fired upon while they were conducting a
tree biodiversity research in the Manawan-Kananga Watershed in Leyte. A
fact-finding mission led by AGHAM found that found no indications of any
crossfire in the area as alleged by the military.
Dr. Tapang further pointed out that Julius Borromeo who was shot in the
chest during the incident could have lived had the military unit provided
immediate medical attention and hospital treatment to him.
"This delay in denying medical attention to Julius Borromeo prolonged his
agony and ultimately led to his death", said the physicist Tapang.
"This kind of impunity is not an isolated incident. The Oplan Bantay Laya
II which continues to be implemented today created this climate of
impunity that encourages warlords and the AFP to shoot first and ask
questions later. This has led to multiple killings such as the one in
Maguindanao and now the massacre of Leonard Co and his companions in
Kananga, Leyte", said Dr. Tapang.
Dr. Tapang noted that the value of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights is that it makes human rights a set of specific obligations of the
governments that have subscribed to it.
"In commemorating the 62nd year of the UDHR, we hold the current
administration to respect, protect, and fulfill their obligations and stop
the impunity that has destroyed lives and communities in the country",
Dr. Giovanni Tapang, 0927.5736714
Make science and technology serve the people!
ADVOCATES OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOR THE PEOPLE (AGHAM)
P.O. Box 268 Araneta Center 1135 Cubao
Quezon City Philippines
T: +63 2 4343173 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +63 2 4343173
F: +63 2 9209099
JUSTICE FOR LEONARD CO! Movement will join the
nation in commemorating the December 10 International Day of Human Rights!
Together with different sectors, the JUSTICE FOR LEONARD CO! Movement will
be one in the call to respect and defend human rights, and prosecute all
violators and perpetrators of human rights violation. END IMPUNITY NOW!
See you in Morayta, Espana Dec10, 130PM, as we will form part of the human
chain for justice! March to Mendiola follows at 4PM. Wear your justice
shirt, or organizational/white shirt. Bring banners and poster calling for
justice! Call us for details at 0949-8176205.
Make science and technology serve the people!
ADVOCATES OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOR THE PEOPLE (AGHAM)
P.O. Box 268 Araneta Center 1135 Cubao
Quezon City Philippines
T: +63 2 4343173
F: +63 2 9209099
ISABELA ECUMENICAL CONFERENCE [IEC]
STATEMENT ON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY 2010
On the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, 10 December 2010, we, representatives of various churches in
the Province of Isabela, met in prayer and dialogue at the Our Lady of
Atocha Parish, Alicia, Isabela on November 8, 2010, and affirmed our
ecumenical partnership to uphold and support the human rights and
fundamental freedoms of every human person. We condemn human rights
violations of all forms and call on Government of whatever nation to apply
the full force of the law to perpetrators even as we call these to
repentance and penance.
We acknowledge in sadness that religion sometimes is misused in ways which
violates human rights of man, woman, and child. Even so, we of different
faith traditions, came together in unity to assert that religion continues
to be and must be a primary source of inspiration for promoting and
defending human rights. We claim these words of Sacred Scripture:
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God, he created male
and female he created them”. (Genesis 1:27)
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your
soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your
neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27);
We recognize our responsibility towards our Christian faithful and to the
peoples of the world at large, and reaffirm our commitment to take all
necessary steps within our local churches, towns, and barangays, and in
co-operation with progressive people’s organizations and civil society, to
promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of everyone
regardless of religion or belief. We do our share in Isabela encouraged by
others with the same concern and mission all over the world.
We are saddened that some of our pastors, priests, nuns, lay workers, and
members have been subjected to various human rights violations. We
remember well those illegally arrested, detained and tortured, or still
missing. We remember our martyrs in the cause of justice and human rights
– like, the Rt. Rev, Alberto Ramento (IFI), Fr. William Tadena (IFI), Fr.
Cecilio Lucero (RC), Ptr. Andy Pawikan ((UCCP), Rev. Edison Lapuz (UCCP),
Alyce Claver (ECP). Pepe Manegdeg (RC), broadcaster Romeo Sanchez and
other journalists killed by death squads allegedly linked with the
Then there are those are facing criminal charges without benefit of due
process. We remember torture victims Rev. Berlin Guerrero, Albert
Teredanio, James Balo (ECP) missing till now, and many others of so-called
counter-insurgency programs. We remember Dr. Alex Montes (UCCP) and his
fellow health workers (Morong 43) still under detention. We remember
violations of rights of workers and peasants by big business and big
merchants. Amnesty International has listed many victims of different
We are frightened that, in town and country, church people and common tao
linked with cause-oriented groups or movements are subjects for
surveillance, for arrest, and even for summary execution. Still we and our
communities, in joy and hope, keep the faith and claim the power of our
Lord Jesus Christ to help us build his reign on earth. The gates of hell
shall not prevail.
On the occasion of the 62nd Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human
Rights, in the spirit of prophets of justice, peace, and care for the
earth, we cry out with one voice:
STOP HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY OF PERSON AND COMMUNITY!
RESPECT, PROMOTE, AND DEFEND LIFE!
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, SERVE THE PEOPLE!
For the Isabela Ecumenical Conference:
Most Rev. Joseph A. Nacua, OFMCap, D.D.
Rt. Rev. Alexander Wandag
Bishop Elorde Sambat
Co-Chairpersons: Most Rev. Joseph A. Nacua, OFMCap, D.D. (Bishop, RC
Diocese of Ilagan); Rt. Rev. Alexander Wandag (Bishop, ECP Diocese of
Santiago; Rt. Rev. Ephraim Fajutagana (OIC Bishop, IFI Diocese of
Santiago); Rev. Joshua Cuarteros (Bishop-elect, IFI Diocese of Santiago);
Rev. Elorde Sambat (Bishop, UCCP NL Jurisdiction)
Unity Statement on Human Rights
4 December 2010
By the Religious Discernment Group
We, Religious Sisters, Brothers and priests have gathered together at UST
this Sat. Dec 4, to discern our prophetic role in promoting and defending
human rights. Aware that the Social Doctrine of the Church holds this role
as (an intrinsic part of her religious mission (Compendium #159), we
followed the process of “see, judge, act”. We analyzed (listened to the)
human rights situation both from the perspective of (the) Government and
non Government organizations involved in the defense of human rights. We
shared the anguish of victims and their families who had suffered because
they dared to stand for truth and freedom. We remember particularly the 29
church workers who have been the victims of extrajudicial killings and
others who have suffered torture, harassment and false charges.
We were appalled by the fact that under the (new) Government of President
Aquino, there has been on average one extra judicial killing per week. The
number of sectoral leaders, particularly peasants, jailed on false charges
has continued to increase. Until now, the Morong 43 remain in jail despite
even the President himself referring to their arrest as fruit of the
poisoned tree. The case of the Ampatuan massacre continues at snail’s pace
with witnesses disappearing or (being) killed. There has been no action on
the numerous cases of corruption alleged against the former President
Arroyo. To this day, not a single perpetrator of human rights abuses has
been convicted, in itself an indictment of a government that claims ang
daan Matuwid as its mandate. The culture of impunity that began with the
Arroyo Government continues to undercut any talk of democracy. It
disregards the dignity of the human person who is made in the image and
likeness of God.
We are bothered that President Aquino has not called off Oplan Bantay Laya
and is now actually endorsing a new counter insurgency program. The
travesty of human rights violations will just continue. There will be no
justice, freedom and peace for our people until the Government take the
welfare of the people, especially that of the urban and rural poor instead
of the interests of local elites and large foreign corporations, as the
starting point for all development policies.
Remembering the greatest commandment to love God and to love our neighbor
as our self (Deut. 6:4-5; Mk 12:29-30) we reflect on the words of John:
“he/she who does not love his/her brother or sister whom he/she has seen,
cannot love God whom he/she has not seen” (1John 4:20). John challenges us
further: “let us not love in word and speech but in deed and truth” (1
John 4:18). As we discern within the framework of see/judge/act, we commit
ourselves to the protection and promotion of human rights as part of our
religious mission. We commit to work for the release of the Morong 43 and
all political prisoners. We shall continue to lend our voices and efforts
to see that the perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to
justice. We stand with those who speak for truth against all forms of
injustices and graft and corruption. We ask the Government to abandon
plans to implement Oplan….but rather to resume peace talks with the NDFP
and MILF to ensure that the roots of injustice are stamped out.
We are taught: “The church trusts above all in the help of the Lord and
his Spirit who, poured forth into human hearts, is the surest guarantee
for respecting justice and human rights, and for contributing to peace.
The promotion of justice and peace and the penetration of all spheres of
society with the light and leaven of the Gospel have always been the
object of the Church’s efforts in fulfillment of the Lord’s command”
(Compendium 159). As religious and priests who believe in God’s redeeming
love. There can be no more compelling reason to proclaim and defend human
rights than the call to bear witness to our baptism. We have the duty to
uphold the sanctity of life.
Friday, December 10, 2010: INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
Manila, Philippines: CHARGES AGAINST MORONG 43 TO BE DROPPED
Today President Aquino ordered the immediate withdrawal of charges against
the 43 health care workers (the Morong 43) who have been imprisoned in the
Philippines since February 6, 2010. We hope this means that the 43 health
care workers along with the two babies born in custody will be released
before Christmas. “This represents the President’s commitment to respect
human rights and to uphold the rule of law, a commitment that will be
consistent regardless of the parties’ political affiliations,” said the
official making the announcement.
LRWC work, done in cooperation with other NGOs around the world, was one
of the factors contributing to this happy result. LRWC’s recent work on
the Morong 43 case included: a/ a prison visit to 37 of the imprisoned
health care workers on Sept. 20th; b/ a letter /legal brief to President
Aquino, Secretary of Justice de Lima and the Human Rights Commission
Chair, outlining a variety of due process violations and the remedies
required on Sept. 29; c/ a visit with the Vice-Consul in Vancouver on Nov.
9th. As a token of concern for the plight of the two infants born in
custody, LRWC recently sent a gift of moccasins and blankets from the
Yukon Territories .
LRWC’s analysis of the legal remedies triggered by the illegality of the
Morong 43 arrests, searches and in-custody treatment coupled with the
denial of timely access to counsel got good coverage on Philippine
television and in print media.
Thank you to those who worked on this file and to all of you whose fees
and donations enabled the research and the LRWC September trip to Manila .
Thanks also to the Bear Paw Music and Gifts, a store owned by First
Nations people in Whitehorse , Yukon Territories (YT) who donated the
blankets and to the Tutchone people of Beaver Creek , YT who made the
Friday, December 10, 2010
Photos courtesy of Karapatan - Bohol
10 December 2010
News and Photo Release
KARAPATAN holds march-rally at UDHR’s 62nd commemoration
TAGBILARAN CITY – Around a thousand people bringing placards and streamers
took to the streets of Tagbilaran City on 10 December 2010 to mark the
62nd commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
KARAPATAN – Bohol (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), a
premiere human rights group with provincial chapters all over the country,
spearheaded the said march that culminated into a rally in front of the
The march-rally was joined by other organizations including Hugpong sa
Mag-uuma’ng Bol-anon (HUMABOL), Bagong Alyansa’ng Makabayan (BAYAN),
Bol-anong Kahugpongan sa mga Kabus nga Nangisda ug Nanagat (BOKKANA),
GABRIELA and the newly formed youth organization Kabatan-onan Para sa
Kalamboan sa Nasud (KAPAKANA). Representatives from the said organizations
spoke about issues concerning human rights and the demand for justice to
all victims of extrajudicial killings. KARAPATAN – Bohol has documented 7
cases of extrajudicial killings in the province that victimized Victor
Olayvar, Mayong Auxilio, Nestor Arinque, Leizelda Cunado, Ronald Sendrijas,
Eugenio Furog and Olympio Crame.
At the rally, Atty. Artemio Cabatos, chairperson of BAYAN-Bohol,
criticized the government to which he referred as a “syndicate
government”, for violating the rights of the people especially by tagging
them as “rebels” when they simply air out their complaints. According to
him, he too, was maliciously tagged as a “rebel” by the military unit now
staying in his hometown.
A barangay councilor of Brgy. Doljo, Panglao spoke about their firm stand
of opposing the reclamation project in their town which, according to her,
threatens their livelihood and may bring irreversible environmental
destruction in the future. A farmer from Brgy. Caluasan, Dagohoy also
expressed his anger and frustration to the National Irrigation
Administration (NIA) that forcibly converted their lands into rice paddies
more than a decade ago for a promised “irrigation” that never delivered
even a drop of water to their now damaged lands. From Talibon town, a
fisherman lambasted the planned “red algae plantation” for bio-ethanol
production within the 30 coastal municipalities of Bohol. For him, this
project will cause livelihood dislocation of fisherfolks who have been
fishing along the seawaters of the targeted 30 municipalities.
Unlike previous rallies, KARAPATAN infused cultural presentations during
this year’s UDHR commemoration. Fisherfolks from Brgy. Doljo creatively
packaged their stand on the reclamation issue into a drama presentation
while youth members of a cultural group called BANSIWAG also rendered
dances that interpreted socially relevant songs.###
Research and Documentation
Contact #: 500 1034
Photos courtesy of Karlos Manlupig
KMU hails people’s efforts for pressuring
Aquino to concede w/ Morong 43
“Overwhelming support by all sectors from all over the world, exhaustive
efforts in all arenas of struggle, and outstanding display of collective
action pressured President Aquino to finally order the dismissal of the
case against the Morong 43. We celebrate with the people and the Morong 43
in reaping the fruits of our struggle.”
KMU Chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said this as President Aquino called on
the DOJ to “withdraw the informations filed in court” against the Morong
43, “subject to court approval.”
“We will continue to pressure the current administration until the Morong
43 are finally released, and all cases against them nullified. President’s
Aquino’s action today was a truly delayed one. We hope the release of the
Morong 43 would not be stumbled by anymore delays. The reasons for the
Morong 43’s immediate and unconditional release are clear, solid and
already known to the world,” Labog said.
“We hope that this will also pave the way for the progress of the cases of
other political detainees, and victims of human rights violation in
general. Aquino, until today, has not done anything concrete, on the long
list human rights violations of the previous regime. His administration
has actually added more murders and human rights violations in just half a
year in office.” #
Freeing Morong 43, easiest move for HR for Aquino – KMU
Giving the Morong 43 an immediate and unconditional freedom, by
withdrawing the cases against them, is the easiest step that President
Aquino can take to really uphold human rights in the country today.
This was the statement of labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno as the world
celebrates International Human Rights Day today.
“Freeing the Morong 43 is the easiest move for Aquino not only because it
only requires him to order cases to be withdrawn, but more importantly
because the reasons for the Morong 43’s immediate and unconditional
release are clear, solid and already known to the world,” said Elmer
“Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.
“When the president, himself not an avid advocate of the Morong 43’s
release, conceded that the warrant used for their arrest is defective and
that incorrectly acquired evidence on the case cannot be used, nobody
dared contest his statements. That’s a clear indication of the public’s
acceptance of the Morong 43’s release, which makes it very easy for Aquino
to act now and release them from detention,” Labog added.
Jail Arroyo, Free the Morong 43
KMU also criticized Pres. Aquino for failing to show resolve in going
after former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo while also failing to act
for the release of the Morong 43.
It said the Aquino regime has failed to maximize other avenues to seek
justice for the former president’s grave and numerous crimes against the
Filipino people – such as pursuing the NBN-ZTE case in the Department of
Justice, investigating cases of human rights violations through the DOJ,
and impeaching pro-Arroyo Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez through Congress.
“There’s this principle which legal scholars love to quote, that it is
better to set free those guilty for a crime than to imprison those who are
innocent. On the one hand, this regime has failed to pursue charges
against Arroyo, whom many people believe is guilty of crimes against the
people. On the other hand, it has failed to set free the Morong 43, whom
many people believe are innocent of the charges filed against them,” Labog
“A regime which does not act swiftly to correct this injustice and uphold
basic human rights will surely reap the anger and protests of the Filipino
workers and people,” Labog said. #
AFP’s guilt by association logic on Morong 43
We condemn Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Col. Antonio
Parlade Jr.’s statement that National Democratic Front chief negotiator
Luis Jalandoni’s call for the release of the Morong 43 is an “affirmation”
that the health workers are indeed members of the New People’s Army.
As an organization that has also called and mobilized for the release of
the 43 health workers, we from the Kilusang Mayo Uno, find the AFP’s
statement both idiotic and dangerous. This “guilt by association”
ill-logic simply has no basis, and everyone the military brands as NPA are
hunted down and killed.
The AFP remains in a “state of denial” over its humongous mistakes in
arresting, torturing and detaining the Morong 43. It is now using ill
logic to justify the injustice that it committed without sufficient
intelligence work and without following due processes.
The injustice that is being committed against the Morong 43 is crystal
clear by now and one does not have to be organizationally linked with the
NPA to call for the health workers’ immediate and unconditional release.
Even lawyers, ecumenical groups, and health workers from all over the
world have called for the Morong 43’s release.
It is simply the duty of all Filipinos who have at least a sense of
justice to call and work for the release of the Morong 43. We understand
that the NDF chief negotiatior’s call is in fulfillment of this basic
It is precisely this guilt-by-association ill-logic that has been the
AFP’s justification for carrying out the extra-judicial killing of more
than 1,000 activists, including almost a hundred trade-union leaders and
activists, under the Arroyo and Aquino regimes. The fact that the AFP
persists in using this canard bodes ill for the state of human and
trade-union rights in the country – a warning, no less, that it will go on
attacking organizations which it thinks are linked with the NPA. #
Photos courtesy of Kawagib
Int’l Rights Group to Aquino: Probe Mistreatment of Detainees
“Aquino should promptly order a criminal investigation into the
allegations of torture and ill-treatment in military custody.” – Human
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – While New York-based Human Rights Watch lauded the order of
President Benigno S. Aquino III to withdraw the charges against the 43
health workers, the group also called on Aquino to investigate
mistreatment of detainees.
“By ordering the release of the ‘Morong 43,’ President Aquino is telling
security forces to uphold the law for arrests and detention,” said Elaine
Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “This is a step
toward meeting Aquino’s promises to tackle injustice and impunity.”
The Morong 43 refers to the 43 health workers arrested on Feb. 6 in Morong,
Rizal by at least 300 combined elements of the police and military. They
were charged with illegal possession of firearms. On Dec. 10, Aquino
ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop the charges against the 43
because they were based on illegally obtained evidence.
The Morong 43 told the Human Rights Watch that at the time of their
arrest, the authorities did not provide them the reasons for their arrest
or inform them of their rights to remain silent or to obtain legal
counsel. “Such rights are guaranteed under the Philippine constitution.
Some detainees described ill-treatment in military detention, such as
being blindfolded and interrogated on and off for as long as 36 hours,”
the group said.
The Morong 43 have filed complaints with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
against the military and police for alleged torture and ill-treatment.
“The mistreatment of detainees will only end if the abuses are also
investigated and prosecuted,” Pearson said.
On Dec. 12, Aquino however stated that the military need not issue an
apology to the Morong 43. “I think that’s already too much,” he said of
the demand of some Morong 43 relatives that the military publicly
apologize for their detention.
Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and one of the
legal counsels of the Morong 43 said that the Morong 43 are ready to file
counter charges against the military. Soon after the release of the health
workers, Pastores said they would talk with their clients about filing
administrative, criminal or civil cases against the perpetrators of the
raid, arrest and torture.
Hunger Strike Forced Gov’t to
Withdraw Charges — Morong 43, Rights Advocates
“We are happy but we are still angry. In the first place, the Morong 43
are innocent. They should not have been detained,” Ofelia Beltran-Balleta,
mother of Jane Balleta, one of the Morong 43, said in an interview with
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — After President Benigno S. Aquino III announced, on December 10,
that he has ordered the dropping of charges against the Morong 43, their
relatives who were gathered at the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI)
cried with joy.
The 43 health workers were arrested on Feb. 6 in Morong, Rizal while
conducting a health skills training when 300 combined elements of the
police and military raided the rest house where they were staying. They
were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, tagged as
members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and subjected to physical and
psychological torture. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of
the Philippines (CPP).
The Morong 43 had been on hunger strike and their relatives were also
fasting since Dec. 3 when President Aquino announced his order.
“We are happy but we are still angry. In the first place, the Morong 43
are innocent. They should not have been detained,” Ofelia Beltran-Balleta,
mother of Jane Balleta, one of the Morong 43, said in an interview with
Bulatlat. “After Aquino repeatedly said ‘Let the courts decide,’ he
finally ordered the dropping of charges against the Morong 43. Thanks to
the international community, organizations and individuals who supported
our struggle. This is a victory of the Filipino people,” Balleta said in a
speech at the rally at the foot of Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola bridge)
on Dec. 10.
In October, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima submitted her review and
recommendations on the case of the Morong 43. When asked about the said
review, Aquino said the arrest of the 43 can be considered fruit of the
poisonous tree and that errors should be rectified. But he said, he was
leaving it to the courts decide.
After two dialogues held by relatives with Malacañang officials, Aquino
refused to budge.
Supporters criticized Aquino for his refusal to act on the case of the
When a delegation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) came to the
country early December and met with de Lima, the justice secretary said
she would submit another memorandum to the President on the case of the
Morong 43. De Lima told the WCC that she would act to have the charges
against the Morong 43 withdrawn by Dec. 10 or before Christmas.
“The Morong 43 have been detained for ten months already in two camps.
Still, they had to resort to a hunger strike – the highest form of
struggle they could wage – before Aquino acted on their plight,” Roneo
Clamor, husband of Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the 43 detained health
After the arrest, the Morong 43 were held under military captivity in Camp
Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal for almost three months. The legal counsels of the
Morong 43 and then Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairwoman de Lima had
to push for the transfer of the 43 to a civilian detention facility. On
May 1, thirty-eight detained health workers were transferred to Camp
Bagong Diwa while five have remained under military detention.
Clamor, also secretary general of Karapatan, added that the ten months in
detention of the Morong 43 have not been easy. He said even the relatives
experienced harassment and surveillance.
“We do not owe Aquino any gratitude,” Fr. Diony Cabillas, spokesman of
Selda, an organization of former political prisoners, said in his speech
at the rally. “If the Morong 43 did not stage a hunger strike, they would
not have been released.”
Cabillas added that former President Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, after
assuming power, immediately released almost 400 political prisoners.
Julius Matibag, one of the legal counsels of the Morong 43 and a member of
the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), said Aquino’s announcement
proves that their clients are innocent. Matibag said the DOJ has yet to
file the motion to withdraw the charges. He said they are hoping that the
Morong 43 would be released by next week.
Asked whether any of the Morong 43 has standing warrants of arrest for
other charges – because Aquino said those who do, could not be freed yet –
Matibag said, “No document has been officially submitted to the courts
regarding alleged cases. Until they produce official documents, our
clients should be released upon the grant of the motion to withdraw [of
the information] by the Morong court.”
Matibag added that the perpetrators of the arrest and torture of the
Morong 43 should be held accountable.
Release All Political Prisoners
Matibag said Aquino should also look into the cases of other political
prisoners. “The Aquino administration should have a clear policy against
detention of political dissenters,” Matibag said.
“There are many more political prisoners who should be released. All of
them are victims of Oplan Bantay Laya,” Cabillas said. The Oplan Bantay
Laya (OBL) is the counterinsurgency program of the Arroyo government and
has been extended by the new administration.
Cabillas said the Aquino government added 22 persons to the list of
political prisoners. He said there are 369 political prisoners all over
the country, including the Morong 43. Majority were arrested during the
Arroyo administration.“It is only through the mass movement that political
prisoners would be freed,” Cabillas concluded. (http://bulatlat.com)
‘No Change in Human Rights
Situation Under Aquino’ – Karapatan
According to Karapatan, there have
been at least 25 victims of extrajudicial killings, two victims of
enforced disappearance, 16 victims of torture, and 18 victims of illegal
detention under the Aquino administration. It has barely been five months
since Aquino took over on June 30.
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The commemoration of International Human Rights Day this year
became a celebration because of the withdrawal of charges against the
detained health workers who are collectively called as the Morong 43. But
still, cause-oriented groups maintained that there has essentially been no
change in the human rights situation under the Aquino administration. They
said it is the people’s collective action that made Aquino act on the case
of the detained health workers.
According to Karapatan, there have been at least 25 victims of
extrajudicial killings, two victims of enforced disappearance, 16 victims
of torture, and 18 victims of illegal detention under the Aquino
administration. It has barely been five months since Aquino took over on
Members of cause-oriented groups led by Karapatan and Bagong Alyansang
Makabayan (Bayan) marched from different assembly points in Manila toward
Don Chino Roces (former Mendiola) bridge calling for justice for all
victims of human rights violations and vigilance on the continuing
Increasing Human Rights Violations
“We are working to earn a living then Mayor Alfredo Lim wants to phase it
out. They are not only violating our human rights but also our right to
live,” said Fernando Picorro of Alyansa ng mga Nagkakaisang Pedicab at
Kuliglig Drivers ng Maynila (ALNAPEDKU-Manila), referring to the violent
dispersal of their mobilization at the Manila City hall last Dec. 1.
Picorro said under the Aquino administration, their human rights are being
gravely violated. “If this is the straight path he is talking about, then
we would just take the winding road.”
Meanwhile, Giovanni Tapang, national chairman of Agham (Science and
Technology for the People, not the party list group) said the recent
killing of renowned botanist Leonard Co and companions Julius Borromeo and
Sofronio Cortez proves that the climate of impunity persists. “We are
reminded by the killings of Leonard Co and his companions that violations
on human rights continue. The counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya
II, which continues to be implemented today, engendered a climate of
impunity that encourages the military to shoot first before asking
questions later,” Tapang said.
Lorena Santos, deputy secretary general of Desaparecidos, criticized the
Aquino administration for offering amnesty to his father Leo Velasco.
“They said that my father Leo Velasco and his colleague Prudencio Calubid
can file for amnesty. Are they insulting us? My father and Calubid have
been missing up to now. Besides, they are not criminals, why should they
avail of amnesty!” Santos said. “My father and Calubid did not do anything
wrong. They have been fighting for what is right and we would continue
what they have started.”
Velasco was abducted on Feb. 19, 2007 while Calubid was abducted on June
Santos said the perpetrators of the 206 cases of enforced disappearance
under the past government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo have not been
Glen Malabanan of Karapatan-Southern Tagalog (Karapatan-ST) said that
after Aquino took power, the Southern Tagalong region has experienced an
intensification of violations of human rights. “There are already eight
victims of extrajudicial killings, one victim of enforced disappearance,
and 66 political detainees, ” she said.
Malabanan also scored the intensifying militarization in the provinces of
Laguna and Batangas.
Meanwhile, Rommel Linatoc of the National Council of Churches in the
Philippines (NCCP) questioned Aquino’s sincerity in taking the righteous
path when the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the
Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
could not push through. He said the Aquino administration should implement
the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the
Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International
Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). Both agreements were signed by both parties.
Linatoc added that the Aquino administration should also take seriously
the formation of the Reciprocal Working Group for the Comprehensive
Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER). Based on the Hague Joint
Declaration, which lays down the framework of the peace negotiations, the
CASER is the second agenda following the CARHRIHL.
“There has been no substantial change under the Aquino administration,
only cosmetic changes. We would continue to expose this administration’s
anti people policies and we would uphold and fight for pro-people policies
and justice,” former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo said during
Ocampo said that on January 2011, a new counterinsurgency plan patterned
after the 2009 United States Counterinsurgency Guide (COIN) will be
implemented by the Aquino administration.
“The Aquino administration is no different from the past administration.
It is still under the dictate of the United States,” said Ocampo. He
pointed out that public private partnership projects, conditional cash
transfers are all for the interests of foreign investors and would only
make poverty worse for the poor. Former Gabriela Women’s Party
representative Liza Maza also said the country’s economic policy still
serves imperialist countries like the U.S.
“The mass movement against repression of human rights by the government
has won the struggle in the case of the health workers,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez,
national chairwoman of Karapatan said.
“Only through the unity and determination of the Filipino people would we
triumph against human rights violations,” Enriquez said. (Bulatlat.com)
Photos courtesy of BAYAN - Negros
BAGONG ALYANSANG MAKABAYAN-NEGROS
Press Release November 10, 2010
Mobile #: 09217859554
BAYAN challenges the
Provincial Government to take action
against Extra Judicial
Killings (EJK) particularly the Bayles murder
The umbrella organization of
BAYAN-Negros spearheaded a picket protest in front of Provincial Capitol
urging the Provincial Government to take necessary actions against the
killings of the political activists perpetrated by state agents
particularly the Philippine Army.
There are 41 victims of summary
executions since 2001, were 33 of these came from Negros Occidental based
on the data of a Human Rights group KARAPATAN. Most of the victims are
members of progressive organizations who were tagged by the military as
front organizations of CPP-NPA-NDF in order to justify their killings.
The group cited the controversial
murder case of Benjamin Bayles perpetrated by 2 suspects that were later
confirmed to be members of the 61st IB PA.
“While the case is ongoing, the
military has systematically made a series of harassments to silence the
witnesses of the said case,” Mr. Tuayon said.
Progressive organizations and
Partylists have scheduled a dialogue with Gov. Marañon to ask for his help
regarding the case but he seems not interested in extending support to the
resolution of the controversial extra-judicial killing that will unmask
the truth of a state policy of murdering activists with impunity.
BAYAN-Negros strongly demands to the
Provincial Government to do its responsibility to protect and uphold Human
Rights and stop tolerating the vilification campaign and murderous spree
of the Philippine Army against activists.###
Address:: #222 Ylang-Ylang St. Barangay Bata, Bacolod City
Note: Today, on the eve of the
International Human Rights Day, the HKCAHRPP held a press conference
calling on the Philippine government to take concrete steps to end
extrajudicial killings and disappearances, to release all political
prisoners including the illegally-detained 43 health workers and to render
justice to those who were extrajudicially killed including workers and
peasant organizers, students, lawyers, Church people and journalists.
Those who spoke at the press conference include Bruce Van Voorhis
(Interfaith Cooperation Forum), Jackie Hung (Justice & Peace Commission of
the HK Catholic Diocese), Necta Montes (World Student Christian Federation
- Asia Pacific, niece of Dr. Alexis Montes of the "Morong 43"), Phyllis
Tsang (Hong Kong Journalists' Association), Ng Koon-kwan (Hong Kong
Confederation of Trade Unions), Doris Lee (Asia Monitor Resource Center)
and Suki Chung (Labor Action China, ATNC Monitoring Network). Norman Uy
Carnay of BAYAN Hong Kong read the joint statement.
After the press conference, the group trooped to the Philippine Consulate
General. Upon instruction from the Philippine Consulate, the HK Police and
the building security personnel initially prevented the group from taking
the elevator to go up the 14th floor where the Philippine Consulate is
located. Because of the group's assertion, they were finally allowed to go
up after being held at the 2nd floor lift lobby for more than 15 minutes.
After short speeches from Eman Villanueva of UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK and Doris
Lee (AMRC), the group submitted their joint statement which was received
by the representative of the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong.
Below is the joint statement signed and endorsed by Hong Kong-based and
overseas organisations and regional institutions.
(Photos: Norman Uy Carnay [IMG_5533]; Bruce Van Voorhis [IMG_5573]; Jackie
Hung [IMG_5586]; Necta Montes [IMG_5609]; Phyllis Tsang [IMG_5590]; Ng
Koon-kwan [IMG_5614]; Doris Lee [IMG_5630]; Suki Chung [IMG_5644]; Eman
** Apologies for cross-posting **
9 December 2010
For reference: Bruce Van Voorhis (9492-3064)
Doris Lee (9862-1736)
Jackie Hung (9268-1803)
Eman Villanueva (9758-5935)
Justice for the victims, justice for the people!
Condemn the deteriorating situation of human rights in the Philippines
Hong Kong people from various professions and affiliations - legislators,
workers, church people, journalists, health workers, students, women,
migrant workers and human rights advocates - are one in expressing dismay
and condemnation for the deteriorating human rights situation in the
The hope of a more just and peaceful society that is free from the
prevailing culture of impunity is getting dashed rapidly.
It is alarming to know that based on the report of the human rights group
Karapatan, the number of victims of extrajudicial killings for the first
four months of the Aquino administration is even higher than the recorded
killings during the last six months of the Arroyo government. Not only
have there been no concrete advances in bringing to justice the
perpetrators of gross human rights abuses of the past regime; the new
government is fast appearing to fare no better in terms of upholding human
The recent case of the killing of respected and renowned botanist and
environmentalist Leonard Co on November 15 has shown how atrocious the
killings are in the Philippines. Without doubt, disrespect to life and the
country’s own legal processes still pervade the Philippine military shown
also by the slow-paced delivery of justice to the journalist and civilian
victims of the Maguindanao Massacre.
The numbers – more than 1,000 victims of extrajudicial killings and
hundreds more of enforced disappearance from the previous government –
keep piling up and there is no clear resolution in sight. Repression is
still rampant especially against trade unions, people’s organizations and
activists including church people and progressive parliamentarians.
The illegally arrested health workers collectively known as the Morong 43
is also a cause of grave concern. Despite the report of Department of
Justice Sec. Leila de Lima showing the irregularity of the arrest and
President Aquino’s own admission of problems in the conduct of the
arresting party, the 43 still languish in jail. Two women, Carina Judilyn
Oliveros and Ma. Mercedes Castro, have already borne babies but they still
have not yet been released even on humanitarian grounds.
The case of the Morong 43 shows that trumped up charges are still being
used to intimidate, harass and criminalize activists. To date, hundreds of
men and women political prisoners languish in jail including personnel
involved in the peace process between the Government of the Republic of
the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. In
particular, the repression of trade unions and peasant and labour
activists, such as of the Toyota and Nestle union leaders in Southern
Tagalog, contributes to continuing extreme wealth inequality and poverty
overall, as workers are unable to exercise their due collective bargaining
rights but must suffer intolerable wages and working conditions.
People of Hong Kong have not escaped the low regard to the right to life
of the armed forces of the Aquino government. The August 23 tragic bungled
hostage rescue operation is still fresh in the hearts and minds of the
Hong Kong people. The people of Hong Kong have been themselves victims of
what activists, oppositionists and civilians continue to face.
On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, people from all
walks of life in Hong Kong come together to demand the Aquino government
1. Immediately release the Morong 43 and all political prisoners
2. Prosecute perpetrators of gross human rights violations and stop the
culture of impunity
3. Order the military to surface activists they have forcibly taken to
4. End all forms of repression of trade unions and labour activists
5. Actively pursue the peace negotiations with the National Democratic
Front of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Stop the killings! Surface the disappeared! Free all Political Prisoners!
Uphold human rights and promote peace in the Philippines!
09 December 2010
Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the
Asia Monitor Resource Centre (AMRC)
Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)
Asia Pacific Youth and Students Association (ASA)
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Asian Transnational Corporation (ATNC) Monitoring Network
Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society (ATIS)
BAYAN Hong Kong
Cordillera Alliance Hong Kong
Filipino Migrant Workers’ Union (FMWU)
GABRIELA Hong Kong
Hong Kong Christian Institute
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU)
Iglesia Filipina Independiente HK Fellowship
Interfaith Cooperation Forum
Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese (HKJP)
Labor Action China
United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
World Student Christian Federation – Asia Pacific (WSCF-AP)
Endorsed by the following groups overseas:
Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (EILER), the
Korean House for International Solidarity
National Free Trade Union, Sri Lanka
Solidarity of Cavite Workers, the Philippines
Support Group for TMPCWA, Japan
Thai Labour Campaign, Thailand
The Progress Union, Sri Lanka
Yokohama Action Research Center, Japan
Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of
Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines
c/o ASA, No. 4 Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR
Tel. (852) 98105070, 97409406 Fax. (852) 27354559
Migrante Australia and the Australian Action for Peace and Development in
the Philippines (APDP)
Support Morong 43
2010, Sydney, Australia
Migrante Australia and Australian Action for Peace and Development in the
Philippines supported the hunger-strike of the Morong 43 by fasting daily
from December 6 and culminated on December 10, International Human rights
support, the campaign for the release of the Morong 43 reached its first
step to success. Right on December 10, the Philippine President Noynoy
Aquino has directed the Philippine Department of Justice (DoJ) to withdraw
the charges against the Morong 43. But this has yet to be realized.
At the Migrante
Sydney Neighbourhood Association Christmas party last Saturday one member,
David Crotty of the solidarity group the Australian
Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP)
explained that he supported the hunger strike of the Morong 43 by fasting
from December 6 till Dec 10. He explained that the Morong 43 is a group of
health workers, mostly young people, undertaking training in Morong, a
town south of Manila, Philippines. This training was part of a course for
community health workers. While in training, the Philippine military
The arrest violated the principles of
the Philippines constitution. On
the article by an academic and Australian lawyer Gill Boehringer stated:
“any evidence discovered in the raid was “fruit of the poisoned tree” and
could not be used as evidence against the 43 “. In a country like
Australia they would have been released a long time ago or more likely not
arrested in the first place. Yet, here they are still held in prison after
The people at
the party also listened to Maria Elena Ang, a member of Migrante as she
described her experience as a political prisoner during the time of
Marcos. During that time she also participated in a hunger strike. She
described how the body uses any fat available to it in order to survive.
When the stores of fat are used up the body begins to break down and use
the protein of its own muscles. It was a terrible picture that she painted
of a hard experience. And yet it was worth it in the end. Marcos conceded
to their demands.
these stories, people gave generously to the appeal. On the night, twenty
one people gave donations amounting to $135. One person sponsored
David Crotty $2 per day of his fast. Another person donated $5 per day.
David’s fast lasted six days and ended Friday, the 10th of December 2010,
with the news that the charges against the Morong 43 had been dropped.
The total amount
raised was $AUS 187 or about Php 7480.
Australia sent this money to Karapatan (National Alliance of Human Rights
Advocates of the Philippines) in Manila who passed it to the Free the
Morong 43 Campaign. Many of the Morong 43 have families to support and
were unable to do this for the last 10 months while they were in prison.
In fact, the stress and hardships on the families of Morong 43 were
greater as they had to struggle to support their imprisoned breadwinner.
At the end the
week (10 December 2010), in the fading light of Friday evening, members of
Migrante Australia in Sydney held their fasting and vigil near the steps
of Sydney Town Hall. Australian Action for Peace and Development in the
Philippines had also distributed a statement at the vigil. The fasting
–vigil was held in solidarity with the Morong 43. Only that day, President
Aquino had ordered the Department of Justice to withdraw the charges on
the Morong 43. But the vigil went ahead anyway. Based on the history of
the case so far, we know we must continue our campaign until we hear that
the Morong 43 have been released and justice has been accorded to them.
Australia members who participated at the fasting and vigil were: Lingap
Migrante (Migrants’ Aid), Migrante North, Migrante Sydney Neighbourhood
Association and the Philippines-Australia Women’s Association (PAWA).
David Crotty –
member, APDP (Australian Action for Peace and Development in the
Friday, 10 December 2010, Migrante Australia and the Australian Action
for Peace and Development in the Philippines in Sydney protested near
the steps of Sydney Town Hall against the continuing detention of the Morong 43.
NSW Police talked to Jane Corpuz-Brock
a member of Migrante regarding the Notice for the hunger strike vigil
held near the Sydney Town Hall. The police found everything to be correct and the peaceful protest
finished at 8pm.
Australia people are confident that due process will be followed. The
fact that due process seems to have been ignored is the main reason that
people in Australia find the case of the Morong 43 so shocking.
Photos courtesy of Bayan
BAYAN USA Southern California International Human
Rights Day picket at the Philippine Consulate to Free the 43!
Terrie Cervas, GABRIELA USA Vice Chair, speaks at
US-backed P-Noy is No Champion of
Human Rights December 9th, 2010
December 10, 2010
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA
Aquino’s Non-Resolution of Philippines’ Human Rights Crisis Serves US
In commemoration of the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, Filipino-Americans under the banner of BAYAN USA would like
to call international attention to their disappointment in Philippine
President Benigno “P-Noy” Simeon Aquino III for his failure to act
decisively towards resolving the ongoing human rights crisis in the
Rather than working to fulfill his campaign promises to the Filipino
people, Aquino has spent the past 5 months prioritizing the fulfillment of
his promises made to the US government and to multi-national corporate
investors to further liberalize the Philippine national economy and
territory to accommodate their interests.
If the first 160 days of the Aquino administration are any indicator, the
Filipino people can be certain the campaign of unabated extra-judicial
killings, abductions, illegal detentions, and torture of civilians
throughout the country by its security forces unleashed by the previous
Arroyo administration will continue under the current presidency.
Like Barack Obama, the romanticized hype over Aquino’s candidacy and
electoral win are slowly being replaced by a steady flow of political
doublespeak on critical issues. One of the vilest examples of this can be
seen with the case of the Morong 43 healthworkers, who are now in their
10th month of illegal detention under the Philippine military’s custody.
After publicly acknowledging irregularities with the raid, arrest warrant,
and even so-called “evidence” gathered against the 43 last February by the
Philippine National Police and Philippine military, Aquino not only
essentially washed his hands of the case by leaving it to the courts to
decide on their fate, he beefed up the country’s military budget by an
Unprecedented Military Spending for Counter-Insurgency Operations
The P1.64 trillion military budget proposal of the Aquino government for
2011 is a staggeringly massive amount inclusive of $434 million granted by
the US State Department via the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Per the
US military’s new Counter-Insurgency (COIN) guide, this amount will be
dedicated to strengthening the very structural framework responsible for
country’s continuing human right crisis– the national counter-insurgency
plan known as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).
Though touted as a campaign to end the armed rebellion in the countryside,
OBL has earned the scrutiny of international human rights monitoring
groups for its baseless directive of targeting progressive and outspoken
people’s organizations, party-lists, advocates, institutions and even
social service providers such as the Morong 43 for being so-called
Under Aquino, 22 assassinations of civilians have been added to the piling
list of extra-judicial killings and there remains 393 political prisoners
throughout the country. Over 300 days have passed since Aquino promised to
redistribute his family’s Hacienda Luisita to its tillers. Not a single
arrest has been made to answer for the thousands of documented cases of
killings and abductions under the Arroyo government, including Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo herself, the perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre, as
well as the abduction and torture of Filipina-American human rights
advocate Melissa Roxas by military elements.
Aquino’s decision to extend and enforce OBL, despite its many critics,
aims to choke off the strong nationalist movement in the Philippines that
frustrates US foreign policy interests in the region. With Aquino’s help,
the US government is working towards an official re-establishment of a
permanent US military presence in the country. Like Arroyo, Aquino is
committed to ensuring the terrorizing Bush Doctrine principles are applied
to the Philippines in order to advance US geopolitical interests in the
Asia-Pacific region, key to which is an all-out war campaign to bail-out
the world’s wealthiest countries and financial oligarchs from the worst
economic crisis in history.
Already the US government’s hand in the military provocation of the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and rivaling superpower China
spells plans for a US war offensive in the region that would not only
bully and advance US trade interests in the region, but necessitate a
large, permanent and reliable US military station in the Philippines.
Human Rights & People’s Solidarity
With the burden of the global economic crisis breaking the backs of people
both in the US and the Philippines, international solidarity between
movements to hold governments accountable for increased public spending
towards war and human rights violations rather than for jobs, education,
healthcare, and other social services must be forged.
Since 2005, BAYAN USA has been campaigning with allies in the US to cut US
military spending in the Philippines and for the withdrawal of US troops
in from the region. These efforts in the US are in solidarity with those
in the Philippines risking their lives everyday at the frontlines of a
growing democratic movement to alleviate the Filipino people from their
daily agony of poverty, landlessness, joblessness, and hunger amidst
US-funded counter-insurgency and political repression.
BAYAN USA firmly believes that communities in the US play a role in the
struggle for human rights in the Philippines by holding the Obama
administration accountable for its actions in the Philippines, just as the
Filipino people must hold the Aquino administration accountable for its
broken promises and subservience to foreign dictates. The ongoing culture
of impunity in the Philippines beckons the international community to
support the Filipino people’s fight for justice for the victims of human
rights abuses and the punishment of human rights violators unleashed by
Free the Morong 43 & all Political Prisoners!
Scrap Oplan Bantay Laya!
End Impunity, Prosecute Arroyo!
US Out of the Philippines!
Southern California Immigration
Coalition's (SCIC) International Human Rights Day event at MacArthur Park.
protest infront of the Swiss Parliament during International Human Rights
In solidarity with the commemoration of International Human Rights Day and
the victims of human rights in the Philippines, and to call attention to
the critical situation of human rights in the Philippines, a creative
protest was mounted in front of the Swiss Parliament, by Jake Clemencio, a
long-time Swiss resident and citizen and some friends. He prepared mounted
images of victims of extrajudicial killings and disappearances in the
Philippines on a string, and later displayed them around a Christmas tree
infront of the Swiss Parliament.
Later, he wrapped himself with the mounted images, with a little help from
some friends. The images came with the paper banners: Surface the
Desaparecidos!, Free all political prisoners! Free the Morong 43!
Many took notice of the creative protest, including the Swiss police, who
asked questions, but later allowed the artful expression to go ahead after
being reminded of the significance of the commemoration (all forms of
protests are banned infront of the Swiss Parliament, when it is in
Pinoy indie human rights
film shocks audiences in Europe By
Brady Eviota, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
BERN, Switzerland - A
powerful film on human rights abuses in the Philippines has shocked
audiences during its showings here in Europe.
tackles the reality of forced abductions and the torture and killings of
political activists in the Philippines.
Directed by Joel
Lamangan, “Dukot” stars Allen Dizon and Iza Calzado as the abducted
activists, and veteran stars Gina Alajar and Robert Arevalo, among
others, as parents of the desaparecidos.
Rio Mondelo of
Migrante Europe, which sponsored the showings, said audiences in Europe
were shocked at the brutality of the human rights situation depicted in
“Especially sa mga
puti, talagang shocked sila sa mga eksena ng torture, sa mga pagpatay. 'Tsaka
dun sa kabuuan ng istorya ng pelikula,” said Mondelo.
He added: “Ang sabi
nila, malayo sa karanasan nila. Hindi nila matanggap na sa bansang
kagaya ng Pilipinas, nangyayari pa ang mga iyon.”
He said there were
walk-outs in the audience during showings in Brussels, Amsterdam and the
Hague in the Netherlands, and in major cities in Austria and Italy.
This writer saw a
woman walk out during the showing in Bern, while others in the audience
covered their faces or looked down during the torture scenes.
A sobbing Swiss man
also rushed out of the Reithalle cinema here after the showing.
But Migrante Europe
and the International Coordinating Committee for Human Rights in the
Philippines said they would continue to sponsor showings of “Dukot”.
The film received an
“R” rating in the Philippines but has already been shown abroad,
including in the United States, Canada, Japan and Hong Kong.
Mondelo said “Dukot”
is a pioneer film of sorts.
“Wala pang pelikulang
sa panahon ni Gloria Arroyo at ngayon kay Presidente Aquino na
nagpapakita ng tunay na nangyayari sa human rights situation sa
Pilipinas,” said Mondelo.
“Ito ang pinakamalapit
na pagpapakita sa medium ng pelikula ng tunay na human rights situation
sa Pilipinas, yung mag pagpapatayan, yung mga pagdukot,” he said.
Anny Hefti of the
Samahang Pilipina Bern also welcomed the showing of the film in Bern.
“We are just too
comfortable here. It’s about time that Filipinos get active because it’s
really happening. People in the Philippines are getting kidnapped and
killed. It’s good that other Filipinos will be made aware of this
reality,” Hefti said in the open forum after the showing.
“We are trying to
convey to the world that in the Philippines, political killings,
disappearances and violations of human rights are still being
committed,” added Jake Clemencio, a Migrante member in Bern.
After the showing,
audiences were asked to sign a petition letter asking for the release of
the “Morong 43” and other political prisoners in the Philippines.
signatures were handed over the next day to the Philippine embassy here
Mondelo said that he
tells audiences in Europe that they can do something even if they are
“I tell them, think of
the power of signatures when it reaches the powers that be. They can
probably ignore a hundred signatures, but not thousands of signatures,”
he said. (12/16/2010)
in front of the Philippine Consulate General, Dec 10th, 2010
of the bagpipes help to draw the attention of the passersby to our
presence and to our signs
Iranian friends come to support our picket for the Morong 43 and other
The Free the 43 Committee Visits the
Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver
Vancouver. — The Free the 43 Committee (B.C. Canada) personally delivered
its letter of concern to the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver
early this afternoon, November 8, 2010. The Free the 43 Committee was
represented by Yvon and Valerie Raoul, both members of the 2010
International Observers Mission to the Philippines, Atty. Gail Davidson,
Founder and Executive Director of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, Aiyanas
Ormond of the Alliance for People’s Health and Erie Maestro of the
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights. Vice-Consul Melanie Balisi
Diano invited the group to her office, received the letters from the
Committee and from Lawyers Rights Watch Canada and promised that the
letters would be forwarded to President Aquino.
Aiyanas Ormond said that he and his family personally know Dr. Merry
Clamor and Reynaldo Macabenta when they stayed in the Philippines in 2005
and know of the good community and medical service that they do. Valerie
and Yvon Raoul shared that they visited the detainees when they went to
the Philippines as independent observers of the 2010 National Elections.
Atty. Gail Davidson who attended the Conference of Lawyers in the Asia
Pacific in September went with other lawyers to visit the Morong 43 and
met and talked with the detained health workers. All have been closely
monitoring the developments (or lack of progress) in the case of the
Morong 43. Lawyers Rights Watch Canada is still waiting for a response
from the Philippine Government for the two letters that it had sent out.[
“We want the Philippine government to know that the detained health
workers have friends in Vancouver who are concerned about their situation
and who are committed to helping secure their release,” said Yvon Raoul, a
retired school teacher and a human rights advocate.
The group specifically made mention of the two nursing mothers, Carina
Oliveros and Mercy Castro, and their two new babies who were both born in
detention– and are still waiting for their release.
The Free the 43 Committee‘s letter comes in the wake of the recent
Presidential order of release for some 300 soldiers and officers who were
involved in uprisings against the former President Gloria Arroyo.
Vice Consul Deano promised to get back to the group on any feedback on
their letter. The group responded in turn that they are willing to meet
again with the Consulate General’s office to discuss the case of the
detained health workers.
8 November 2010
H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel Manila, Philippines
Cc: Atty. Leila De Lima Secretary, Department of Justice Padre Faura St.,
Dear Mr. President,
We, the Free the 43 Committee (B.C. Canada), are concerned about the
continued detention of the detained 43 health workers who were arrested
nine months ago, on February 6, 2010. We are especially worried about the
situation of the two nursing mothers, Carina Oliveros and Mercy Castro,
and their babies who were born in detention.
As President and as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, you have
commented that the search warrant used by the arresting military officers
and soldiers was defective. The tainted evidence as a result of this
defective search warrant and the questionable search process that
happened, on which basis the 43 health workers have been charged with
illegal possession of firearms and explosives surely cannot be used in any
court of law. Likewise, the forced confessions obtained by the military
from the detainees by the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment and other violations of their constitutional, civil
and political rights surely cannot be used in any court of law.
We urge your Excellency to take the decisive step and order the Department
of Justice, who has already made recommendations on the case of the
“Morong 43,” to file a motion before the courts to withdraw these charges.
We also ask that the military officers and soldiers responsible for the
torture and other violations of human rights of the detainees be held
accountable for what they did and are duly punished.
We are aware of your order for the immediate release of some 300 soldiers
and officers involved in military uprisings against your predecessor. Can
we expect the same decisiveness and the same compassion for the detained
health workers, most especially the nursing mothers and their new babies?
We ask that the charges against the “Morong 43” be withdrawn. We ask that
the “Morong 43” be immediately and unconditionally released.
We will be monitoring the developments in the case of the detained health
Yvon Raoul and Valerie Raoul
On behalf of the Free the 43 Committee (B.C. Canada) 1230 East 13th
Avenue, Vancouver, BC Canada Tel: 604.224.3723
the 43 Committee goes back to the Philippine Consulate General on the
early evening of Dec 10th to highlight the political prisoners in the
Philippines, particularly the Morong 43. On this day, the Committee learns
the President Aquino has ordered the withdrawal of charges against the
Morong 43 and the detainees plans to lift their hunger strike. Cognizant
that this is just an order to withdraw the charges, the Committee keeps up
the pressure until the detainees go out the prison doors to the welcoming
embrace of their families, friends, lawyers and supporters.
Determined to keep the pressure on till the 43 detainees are released!
explaining to passersby about the Morong 43
Raoul and Friends from the Iranian Centre for Peace, Freedom and Social
Raoul of the Free the 43 Committee in Vancouver holding the sign and
Free the 43
Committee (B.C. Canada)
1230 East 13th
Avenue, Vancouver, BC Tel: 604.224.3723
THEM FREE: A Candlelight Vigil at the Philippine Consulate General for the
Detained Health Workers (Morong 43) -On Their First Day of Hunger Strike
Vancouver, B.C. –
Around 78 people came out in the rain and the cold to support the
early evening vigil for the release of the Filipino detained health
workers, or the Morong 43 last December 2nd.
It started off with rousing songs of freedom and hope. The Solidarity
Notes Labour Choir, composed of activists led by choir director Earle
Peach, came to sing for the release of the 43. Yvon Raoul played the
bagpipes, music which drowned the sound of traffic from cars and buses.
Jim Edmondson from the Vancouver-Kensington Community Singers played his
guitar and sang the songs for the Morong 43, including one that he had
memorized, “Bayan Ko.”
The crowd at the
Philippine Consulate General in downtown Vancouver included members,
friends and supporters of the Vancouver Free the 43 Committee, the
Alliance for People’s Health, Migrante B.C., the
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, the Social Justice
Classcontingent of the Lord Byng Secondary and other human
rights advocates. Candles were lit, “Free the 43” signs held onto and the
photos of the detained health workers held high or taped on the glass
panels of the building.
Friends of the Morong
43 spoke to the crowd, the pedestrians and people waiting for their buses
on why the Morong 43 must be released immediately and unconditionally.
They spoke of the illegality of their arrest and detention, the defective
search warrant used by the military, the torture and other human rights
violations committed on the detainees. Valerie and Yvon Raoul who went to
observe the last Philippine elections told their personal stories of
meeting the detainees and their families. Aiyanas Ormond and Martha
Roberts spoke of the great work done by community health workers in the
poor and rural communities, and the personal friendships they made with
Rey Macabenta and Dr. Clamor who they met in the Philippines. A Lord Byng
Secondary student spoke on behalf of her Social Justice class and was
later joined by her teacher, Alain Raoul, who then described the
“Write-a-thon” his students would be doing on December 10th. A
young student from Tupper Secondary led the crowd into another round of
chanting “Free, free, free the 43!”
Aiyanas Ormond from
the Alliance of People’s Health broke the news to everyone that the Morong
43 had just declared that they were on hunger strike – the hunger strike
started at 6:30 a.m., December 3, Philippine time. That day would have
marked their 300 days in detention since their arrest last February.
December 3 also marks the International Day in Solidarity with Political
The Morong 43 is made
up of 2 doctors, 2 midwives, 1 nurse and 38 community health workers.
There are two nursing mothers, Judilyn Oliveros and Mercy Castro; both
delivered their babies in detention. There are the sick. Dr. Merry Clamor
suffers from uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension and infected skin wounds
aggravated by poor jail conditions. Jane Balleta is epileptic and has had
seizures in prison. Both have been taken to the hospital by the military
in the recent past. There are the elderly. Dr. Alex Montes and community
health worker Lydia Obera are both in their sixties.
Free the 43 Committee
members Valerie Raoul delivered a letter for Philippine President Aquino
to the staff of the Philippine Consulate General. (Please see attached
letter).It had one
message: Release the Morong 43 NOW!
Photo credits: JR
Guerrero and Paco Tejeros
2 December 2010
Free the 43 Committee
1230 East 13th Avenue,
Vancouver, BC Tel: 604.224.3723
The Free the Morong 43
Committee (B.C. Canada) is made up of Alliance for Peoples' Health, the
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Lawyers Rights Watch
Canada, Migrante-B.C., the Vancouver Delegates from the Philippines
International Observers Mission 2010, Migrante-B.C. Youth and friends and
supporters of the Morong 43.
to passersby who the Morong 43 are and why they are still in detention!
43!" "Free the Political Prisoners" Paper Signs plastered at the entrance
to the Philippine Consulate General
light moment with Mariton Pacheco of Balitang Vancouver and the Raouls
By Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Free all political prisoners!
Pundits, activists and civil libertarians alike are still speculating on
what actually led to last week’s order by President Aquino, auspiciously
announced on Human Rights Day, for the Justice Department to withdraw all
charges against the Morong 43, a move expected to lead to the court’s
ordering their immediate release from prison.
Mr. Aquino had hemmed and hawed interminably about what he would do about
the 43 health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal just months before the end
of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo’s term of office. They stood accused of being
members of the New People’s Army who were undergoing training to make
bombs. They were subsequently charged with the non-bailable offense of
illegal possession of explosives and firearms.
In time Mr. Aquino publicly acknowledged that the arrest of the Morong 43
was illegal and therefore all the so-called evidence being brandished by
the military were next to useless in pursuing a case in court.
Still he insisted that the matter was out of his hands and only the courts
could order the detainees’ release.
This pronouncement sat quite well with the Armed Forces of the
Philippines. The AFP spokesmen continued to harp on the guilt of the 43
and to deny any illegality in the raid on the Morong seminar house and the
rounding up of the health workers. But they were in complete agreement
with Mr. Aquino that only the courts should decide the fate of the 43.
Facing the government’s intransigence, the detainees undertook their
ultimate weapon: they began an indefinite hunger strike. This was
accompanied by sympathy hunger strikes and fasting by their supporters
including other political prisoners.
Still, Mr. Aquino was unmoved. As late as three days before his order to
the DOJ to withdraw the charges against the 43, he was quoted by media as
saying “with finality” that he would leave the decision to the courts.
What allowed the Morong 43 to eventually prevail? Undeniably it was their
courage; the refusal of the majority to be cowed in the face of torture,
threats and cajolement by their captors; and their steadfast struggle to
prove their innocence that made this astounding victory possible.
Equally important, the health workers strength of spirit arose from their
not giving in to selfish impulses, i.e. each going their own way and
trying to save his or her neck regardless of the rest. Perhaps being
health workers, they were wont not to think only of their own well being;
they were also fighting for the rights of others.
Underlying their fortitude is the reality that truth has always been on
the Morong 43’s side. The facts and circumstances of the their arrest
pieced together from their own accounts and from the investigation and
public hearings conducted by the Commission on Human Rights provided
incontrovertible proof that, at the very least, their rights against
unreasonable search and seizure had been grossly violated.
What aroused local and international outrage was the way the 43 were
blindfolded, manacled, tortured and subjected to all sorts of threats and
indignities the whole time that they were in military custody, all in the
name of “national security”.
The campaign to vilify and demonize the 43 as “communist terrorists” who
constituted a “threat to society” utterly failed when it became obvious
that this was part and parcel of the military’s squid tactics to cover
up their human rights fiasco.
No longer would reckless accusations that one is an NPA so easily justify
the military and police practice of egregiously violating basic human
rights as part of the government’s counterinsurgency campaign.
The government also grossly underestimated public sympathy for these
doctors, nurses and community health workers ministering to the health
needs of poor and underserved communities. The head of the Philippine
Medical Association asserted that it mattered little if in the course of
their humanitarian work these health workers actually treated members of
the NPA since theirs is not to discriminate against patients on the basis
of political beliefs.
Perhaps the case of the Morong 43 had dragged on for far too long with no
indications of going away.
Perhaps, Mr. Aquino’s advisers were able to convince him that the
political cost of his continuing to wash his hands of the military’s
blunder was already too high while the legal remedies were quite simple
After all, objectively speaking, it was the unsavory leadership of Mrs.
Arroyo over the military that was on the line not that of the new
With Human Rights Day coming up, it seemed most propitious that Mr. Aquino
should make the much-waited announcement that his administration was
taking the necessary steps to bring about freedom for the 43.
Whatever and whoever convinced Mr. Aquino to do the right thing, it is
entirely to his credit that he finally did so, for he could have chosen to
tread the same crooked path as his predecessor.
Perhaps the more important question at this time is what Mr. Aquino’s
action on the Morong 43 signifies for other victims of human rights
violations under the Arroyo regime.
Of immediate concern are the more than 350 detained all over the country
on politically-motivated charges, i.e. like the Morong 43, illegally
arrested and charged for crimes they did not commit or alleged officials
and members of the CPP/NPA charged with common crimes like murder,
kidnapping, arson and robbery, instead of with the appropriate crime of
There are also the special cases of individuals designated as consultants
of the National Democratic Front in the GRP-NDFP peace talks who are
either languishing in jail or who have been forced to go underground to
avoid arrest on persecutory charges invented by the Arroyo regime’s now
defunct Inter-Agency Legal Action Group. The latter include Messrs.
Rafael Baylosis, Randall Echanis and Vic Ladlad.
Not only do these cases highlight blatant violations of safety and
immunity guarantees jointly agreed upon by the two parties, these
constitute continuing stumbling blocks to the progress of the peace
It can only be hoped that the impending resumption of the formal GRP-NDF
peace talks may provide forthwith the favorable conditions for granting
freedom to all political prisoners. #
Published in Business World
17-18 December 2010
Valerie Raoul being interviewed by Mariton Pacheco, Balitang
Vancouver, and Hector, Cameraman
Valerie Raoul of the Free the 43 Committee
front of the Philippine Consulate General, Dec 10th
November 11, 2010
Take two on the Morong 43
One would wish that at least part of then presidential candidate “Noynoy”
Aquino’s campaign line were unequivocally true - that having been a victim
of oppression under martial rule when his father “Ninoy” was kept in
solitary confinement by his arch enemy, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, he
knows what injustice means.
If so, then he would have empathy with the plight of the Morong 43, health
professionals and workers all, who have been detained unjustly for nine
months now on the basis of spurious charges of illegal possession of
firearms and explosives.
The military had raided a seminar house in Morong, Rizal owned by a
well-respected infectious disease expert from the Philippine General
Hospital, using a faulty warrant of arrest for a person whose existence,
nobody, not even the authorities, has verified up to this time
They rounded up all the participants in a health training course being
given under the auspices of the non-government organization, Council for
Health and Development, known for its pioneering work in community-based
primary health care.
They produced firearms and alleged bomb-making paraphernalia as evidence;
since these were garnered without benefit of independent witnesses such as
baranggay officials, there are grounds to believe that these were planted
by the raiders themselves.
The 43 were hauled off, blindfolded and handcuffed, to a military camp.
They were interrogated, subjected to various forms of physical and mental
torture, and kept incommunicado until their lawyers and the Commission on
Human Rights (CHR) were able to assert their right to counsel and
visitation by relatives and human rights workers.
A public prosecutor brought in by the military hastily conducted inquest
proceedings (to determine if there was probable cause to charge the
detainees) but did so without affording the forty-three their right to
A case was then filed with the regional trial court in Morong for which
reason the Court of Appeals (CA), rejected the defense lawyers’ petition
for a writ of habeas corpus, on the technicality that the filing of the
case “cured” any irregularities in the arrest of the hapless forty-three.
The CA ruling is pending on appeal with the Supreme Court. Defense lawyers
argue that the gross violations of the forty three’s right to due process
and the flimsiness of the evidence call for the dismissal of the charges
against the health workers. The defense lawyers have so far prevailed on
the Morong RTC to defer arraignment of the accused in light of the SC
Meantime, despite resistance from military and police authorities, thirty
eight of the forty three were transferred to a regular police detention
facility. In this way, they were spared further harassment and rough
treatment coupled with enticements to cooperate with their military
Unfortunately, five of the detainees succumbed to the “bad cop-good cop”
tactics of the military, purportedly confessed their guilt and currently
remain under the custody of the military. Some of their relatives however
attest to the severe pressure made to bear on them including threats made
by interrogators against their family members.
Hearings conducted by the CHR under then Chair Leila de Lima were able to
establish the plain truth that the case of the Morong 43 is a case of a
military operation pretending to be a police action for which a patently
defective arrest warrant was obtained.
Acting on raw intelligence information, the military pounced on the forty
three, initially claiming that they were NPA combatants undergoing
training in making bombs. Later, when it could not be denied that the
forty three were indeed either medical professionals or community health
workers, they amended their line saying they were NPA medics undergoing
training in “combat life-saving techniques and bomb-making”.
The AFP trumpeted that the “accomplishment was the biggest victory of the
government’s counterinsurgency campaign in recent years”. To underscore
the point, they awarded the head of the raiding team a medal for his role
in the “accomplishment”.
For the past nine months, numerous prominent groups and personalities have
joined calls for the immediate release of the Morong 43. They include
several former secretaries of the Department of Health; the dean and
professors of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine; the
Association of Philippine Medical Colleges; the Philippine Medical
Association; the Philippine Nurses Association; and several lawmakers in
the House of Representatives and Senate. International and national groups
of lawyers, human rights advocates and churches have also joined the
But bottom line is the forty three are still languishing in jail. Dr.
Alexis Montes, the sixty-year-old physician in the group expressed his
frustration by saying that every second in jail feels like an eternity.
Two pregnant mothers among the forty three have given birth. Another
doctor, Dr. Mary Clamor was rushed to the hospital because of uncontrolled
diabetes, hypertension and infected skin wounds aggravated by poor jail
conditions. The rest are straining under the weight of uncertainty and the
difficult conditions they and their families are subjected to.
Justice Secretary de Lima has submitted to President Aquino her
recommendations and, by all indications, these are favorable. The latter
has already acknowledged that the “evidence” against the forty-three was
obtained through irregular means. He rightly stated, “It is a generally
accepted principle that what the lawyers call the fruit of the poisoned
tree, evidence wrongly gotten, cannot be used.”
Yet Mr. Aquino chooses to drag his feet on the case arguing that it is “up
to the courts” to decide.
In fact, the Executive Department can expedite the release of the Morong
43 in two ways. The Office of the Solicitor General can concur or not
object to the defense petition for habeas corpus pending with the Supreme
Court and thus give way to the grant of the petition. Or the justice
department can order the reinvestigation and thereby reverse the erroneous
filing of the case filed by its errant fiscal. The Morong court can then
dismiss the case accordingly and order the instant release of the
In contrast to Mr. Aquino’s decisive, some say precipitous, grant of
amnesty to alleged military rebels, his continued inaction on the Morong
43 rankles. It is also fuelling suspicion that Mr. Aquino is hostage to
the generals who object to the release in the guise of such being a
setback to the government’s counterinsurgency campaign.
No ifs and buts, it’s time Mr. Aquino mustered political will on such a
blatant case of injustice: Mr. President, release the Morong 43! #
Published in Business World
12-13 November 2010
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