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.[ http://www.lrwc.org/letters2.php?aid=335]
“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. -30-
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., Manila
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 workers.
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