Press Statement November 5, 2010
Joey Calugay, 514-947-3662, email@example.com Yasmeen Khan, 613-558-1625, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Canada [BAYAN Canada] today joins Bayan in the Philippines, people’s organizations and advocates of the Morong 43 in different corners of the globe in calling on President Benigno Aquino III to order the immediate and unconditional release of these health workers who are now in their ninth month of detention. The 43 – that include two doctors, two midwives and a nurse – were arrested on February 6, 2010, on the basis of a defective search warrant issued and on evidence planted by state forces. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Early on in those nine months, some of them were subjected to grueling physical and psychological torture, and various forms of indignity. They were denied legal counsel and family visits in Camp Capinpin, a military prison camp in Tanay, Rizal.
Today, women detainees Judilyn Oliveros and Mercy Castro have already given birth while in detention. Both are under hospital arrest at the Philippine General Hospital. Both mothers have fought for their right to breastfeed their babies. The other health workers are still detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.
There is no reason why Aquino cannot direct the justice department to file a motion withdrawing the criminal charges against the 43 before the Morong Regional Trial Court and the Metropolitan Trial Court. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has indicated that her recommendations to President Aquino should lead to the release of the detainees. The President himself has admitted that the search warrant was defective. The courts would then have no choice but to release the 43. And with this simple act, Aquino would have been able to end the injustice done to these community health workers.
Furthermore, the Aquino government granted amnesty to 300 rebel soldiers detained by the Arroyo regime for staging three coup attempts, even before a Makati Trial Court could even decide on the case of one of the rebel officers. Why then can it not order the release of the innocent 43 health workers who want nothing more than bring medical services to the poor?
The Aquino government has always been saying they want to rectify the injustices committed by the Arroyo regime. It is time to right these wrongs. And President Aquino can start by freeing the Morong 43, releasing all political prisoners and addressing all cases of human rights violations committed by state forces.
Free the Morong 43!
Release all political prisoners!
Justice to all victims of state repression!