Tag Archives: Morong 43

US lawyers tell BSA: “Free Morong 43”

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, http://www.allvoices.com MANILA, Philippines-

American lawyers belonging to the National Lawyers Guild on Saturday added their voice to the growing demand of the international human rights and social justice community to immediately and unconditionally release the 43 health workers illegally arrested and detained by the Philippine military last Feb.6 this year in Morong, a municipality east of Metro Manila.

In a resolution approved during the NLG assembly in New Orleans, the American lawyers group put to task President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to free the detained health workers known as Morong 43.

The resolution, a copy of which was emailed to http://www.allvoices.com was dispatched to Malacanang, barely a day after Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima said the recommendation on the case will be forwarded to Malacanang anytime next week. On February 6, 2010 a force of 300 Philippine police and military illegally raided and abducted 43 community health workers including doctors and nurses who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines.

“These health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a week long First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD),” the NLG said in a resolution approved by its members during the assembly at New Orleans recently.

The NLG added that “these health workers were being trained to go to rural areas where the government does not provide medical services and who are most vulnerable during devastating typhoons which have been hitting the Philippines and devastating many rural communities.

“But, because people in many of these rural country side areas are considered enemies of the state, the government as part of its “counterinsurgency plan” targets people such as these health workers claiming they are in fact part of the insurgent movement in the Philippines and if the work is of a progressive nature they are assumed to be members of the New People’s Army,” the NLG resolution added. According to NLG, the training took place at a conference center owned by a renowned Doctor in the Philippines.

The workers were rounded up and taken to the central conference room while the military conducted an illegal search of the cabins and grounds, and claimed to have found a gun and some explosive materials. “The workers deny any connection to such materials and believe that the evidence was planted. Their personal belongings, as well the training m materials used, were all confiscated by the military,” it said.

The NLG said the lawyers for the workers immediately filed a petition for habeas corpus, claiming the search warrant was defective and the arrest illegal. “Marcos era law indicates that if those arrested are charged within 36 hours the illegality of the search and arrest cannot be attacked in a habeas petition. . In this case the charges, of possession of explosives, a non bailable offense, were not filed until 5 days later,” it said. The NLG also took note of the Supreme Court action on the Morong 43 case where the habeas was initially filed referred the case back to the court of appeal.

The court of appeal at first split 2-1 in favor of granting the habeas, but the government then added two more judges to the appeals panel making resulting in a 3-2 denial of the habeas.The NLG said it was shocked to learned that the 43 health workers were held in military camps until May 1, 2010. For days they were deprived the right to counsel during interrogation and there are many reports of sleep deprivation, beatings, electrical shock and the like. “Although they were transferred to jails near Manila in May their cases are in limbo.

They cannot be arraigned and tried while the habeas is pending because under Philippine law, if they are arraigned they lose the right to challenge the illegality of the search and the arrests through a habeas and a potential trial of all 43 would take years,” it said. On September 15, 2010 members of the IADL bureau met with the new Secretary de Lima, and urged her to conduct a review of these cases.

De Lima according to IADL lawyers agreed before her meeting with the IADL bureau to review these cases, and render an opinion on whether the cases should go forward. The IADL at its bureau meeting in Manila on September 16-17, 2010 decided to launch a world wide campaign to continue the pressure on the government to rescind the charges against these health workers and in particular to ensure that the Justice Secretary will act quickly to review the charges and withdraw them.

IADL is asking that National Affiliates such the NLG join in this effort.Officials and members of the NLG said they had decided to send a letter to the Justice Secretary to express the lawyers’ concern for the rights of these health workers, and requesting her to review and rescind the charges.

The NLG is also planning to send a delegation and meet the Philippine Ambassador in the United States to talk the case and launch a global campaign to pressure President Aquino and the military to free the 43 health workers. Meanwhile, the Philippine foreign affairs department announced President Aquino will be in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 28-30 to talk on human rights in East Asia and the Pacific.

The East Asia summit will be attended by members of Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN), Russia and the US, China, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, India, South Korea and Australia. The Manila foreign affairs department said the President is expected to call for vigilance over Myanmar’s first democratic elections which has been ruled by military dictatorship over the last thirty years.

But critics of Aquino argued the 50-year old president has no political and moral ascendancy to talk about protection of human rights in the East Asia conference.

Rural based groups such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the biggest peasant group in the country and staunch ally Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a joint statement said Aquino is bound to emulate and surpass the brutal human rights records of previous President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.KMP and Pamalakaya said in the first 100 days in office of President Aquino, the AFP backed death squad had already claimed 16 lives of political activists in the country, about 11 to 12 of them are farmers affiliated with chapters of KMP all over the country.

The government under the extended counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) continues to file fabricated charges against leaders of activist rural organizations in the country.

Recently, a leader of Pamalakaya in Negros, Western Philippines was charged with arson and other criminal charges in connection with the Oct.5 attack at Victorias Milling Corporation compound where a milling equipment amounting to P 600,000 was burned by the Maoist guerillas operating in the hinterlands of Negros Island.

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Health NGO to AFP: Educational attainment not a hindrance to learn health skills

By the Council for Health and Development

Health groups today slammed the military’s malicious statement regarding some of the health worker-trainees’ capacity to learn health skills with regard to their educational attainment. Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ 2nd Infantry Division said in an interview that the trainees’ profiles revealed that some of them reached only elementary and high school levels while only a very few were college levels and graduates. Thus, why give them health training?

“For 37 years, community-based health program practitioners have been training volunteers who would like to become Community Health Workers (CHWs) regardless of their educational attainment. We do not discriminate against a person’s educational background as long as he or she has the heart to serve other people in the villages. In fact, we have CHWs who are illiterate but are efficient and respected healers in their communities,” Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, Council for Health and Development’s Executive Director said.

In a country where 7 out of 10 Filipinos die without ever seeing a doctor and where public health services lack or are inaccessible, Dr. Jara said that it is CHD’s and COMMED’s mandate to bring health into the people’s hands.

“This means, our health professionals and health workers go out of their way to reach underserved communities and organize health committees and train Community Health Workers. That way, the people themselves can prevent and cure common illnesses and practice first-aid even with the absence of government services in their communities,” Dr. Jara explained.

She added that health skills should not be an exclusive property of a few who can afford to buy it — it should be learned by as many people as possible as long as they have the passion to use that knowledge to serve their fellowmen especially the poor and the oppressed.

Tuition fee in Metro Manila medical schools ranges from P55,000 to P85,000 per semester.

“It is a shame that the AFP discriminates the capacity of our people to learn health skills just because they only reached elementary or high school levels. The AFP should be the ones ashamed of themselves for persecuting health workers that genuinely serve the people. If the Armed Forces is questioning and suspicious as to why we train these people without high educational attainment, the answer is there is not enough health workers and health services in the country and the blame is on the government’s incapacity and skewed priorities,” Dr. Jara ended.##

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6 groups grilled Defense chief on torture of Morong 43

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Bb. Joyce Cabral

As the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) today sets court appearance of 43 doctors and health workers before the Court of Appeals for their writ of habeas corpus hearing, six rural based groups grilled took turns in grilling Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez, accusing that the latter as the mastermind, if not, one of the key security officials who gave the order to abduct and torture the 43 doctors and health workers.

In a joint statement, Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), John Milton Lozande of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Cherry Clemente of Anakpawis party list, Lito Bais, acting president of United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Zen Soriano of Amihan peasant women federation and Fernando Hicap, chair of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Gonzalez is the criminal mindset behind the political kidnapping, illegal arrest and detention, and day-to-day infliction of mental and physical torture on 43 medical personnel who were arrested during a raid in a resort in Morong, Rizal while conducting health seminar last week.

“The horrible tales as narrated by the victims themselves reflect the militarist mindset of the Arroyo government, the pro-Arroyo generals in the AFP and Sec. Gonzalez—the undisclosed author of counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya 2,” the six militant leaders said in a statement.

“Bert Gonzalez Is Bert Gonzalez, and for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo he is untouchable and the best entities to explain why Gonzalez is untouchable is the president herself and her master in Washington D.C,” they said, short of giving a hint that the defense chief is a deployed operative of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Philippines.

The groups said any congressional investigation or appropriate probe conducted by any government agency should have Secretary Gonzalez both as prime suspect and hostile witness. The fisherfolk leader said the case of Morong 43 can be objectively face with the inclusion of Gonzalez in the investigation and list of resource persons of the Senate, in case it paves way to the resolution authored by Senator Pia Cayetano calling for a Senate probe on the controversial case.

Likewise, the six groups said the Moro 43 case should merit the immediate and unconditional suspension if not removal of Sec. Gonzalez from his two posts—secretary of Department of National Defense (DND) and National Security Council (NSC) head, being Arroyo’s chief security adviser.

KMP, Pamalakaya, Anakpawis and the three other groups said prior to the abduction of 43 doctors and health workers, Sec. Gonzalez announced the government and the military are all set to resume the campaign of legal offensive against suspected communist leaders and aboveground groups and personalities which he believed have direct and indirect connections with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing—the New People’s Army (NPA). The directive to file criminal charges against leftwing activists and perceived leaders and members of CPP and NPA took place a week before the raid was conducted in Morong, Rizal.

Meanwhile, the six groups challenged all presidential, vice-presidential and senatorial candidates in the May 2010 elections to sign a national covenant that if they win in the elections, they will avoid a repeat of Morong 43 and that the will respect constitutionally guaranteed basic human rights and civil liberties.

The 6 militant groups noted that presidential candidates Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas of Liberal Party (LP), Manny Villar of Nacionalista Party, Richard Gordon and running mate, former MMDA chair Bayani Fernando, Lakas-Kampi vice-presidential bet Edu Manzano, independents JC de los Reyes and Nicanor Perlas and Bangon Pilipinas’ Bro. Eddie Villanueva have yet to issue official statements on the defective arrest of 43 medical persons.

The groups said the same holds true to majority of senatorial candidates, and only a handful led by Nacionalista Party (NP) guest candidates Reps. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Liza Maza (Gabriela) and Sen. Cayetano also of NP have sent official statements condemning the arrest and torture of 43 health workers. #

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Ondoy victims staged “modest caravan” to campaign for bets

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Rey Manangan and Axel Pinpin

Antipolo City, Rizal- Typhoon Ondoy survivors and groups supporting the plight of typhoon victims today staged a 10-jeep motorcade along lake towns devastated by the super typhoon in Rizal and Laguna provinces to campaign for party lists and senatorial bets which they said will support the fight of typhoon victims in and out of Congress.

The modest fisherfolk and typhoon Ondoy victims’ motorcade dubbed Laguna Lake People’s Caravan for Social Justice and Progressive Politics was organized by the militant fishermen alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), its Southern Luzon chapter Pamalakaya-Timog Katagalugan, Anakpawis party list, the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the broad Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM).

The caravan will start in Jala-Jala, then will pass through Pilila, Tanay, Morong, Baras, Teresa, Cardona, Binangonan, Angono, Antipolo, Cainta and will end up in Lupang Arienda in Taytay, Rizal. On the second day, the Laguna wing caravan composed of two mobile propaganda teams will cover the lake areas of Sta. Cruz, Los Banos, Calamba, San Pedro and Binan on their way to Lupang Arienda, also in Taytay, Rizal.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said campaigners will post election materials in populated and designated areas along Laguna Lake in both Rizal and Laguna provinces. The propaganda teams embedded in the mini caravan will distribute materials and posters of progressive party list groups like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela and Kabataan Party, as well as the campaign posters of Makabayan senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna and Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party.

The Pamalakaya leader said caravan organizers will endorse the party list bids of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela and Kabataan Party and the senatorial candidacies of Ocampo and Maza in tomorrow’s grand proclamation rally to be attended by not less than 5,000 Ondoy victims and residents of Lupang Arienda in Taytay, Rizal.

“This is politics of change in action. The people will vote base on issues and not on politics of personalities and popularity. This is the ultimate concretization of people’s electoral agenda in the May 2010 elections,” added Hicap.

For her part, Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo said the modest fisherfolk caravan will also highlight the demand of Ondoy victims to stop the massive privatization and conversion of Laguna lake into an across-the-lake hub for big business and frustrate the government plans to demolish close to 100,000 fisherfolk and urban poor families in Lupang Arienda and other parts of the 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake.

Lacandazo, also one of the conveners of SLLM said nominees of party list groups Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela, and Makabayan senatorial candidates Ocampo and Maza were also invited to personally accept the endorsement of Lupang Arienda and Laguna Lake people of their respective bids in the May 2010 elections.

“Lupang Arienda people and the rest of the victims of state sponsored disaster at the height of typhoon Ondoy in Laguna Lake are entrusting their political and electoral votes to the real servants of the poor. The progressive party lists and Reps. Ocampo and Maza will get all the support they could get from the lake people of Laguna for their unyielding commitment to the cause of the marginalized fishermen and poor folks in Laguna Lake,” Lacandazo added.

Kasama-TK said the caravan will also call for the immediate and unconditional release of 43 doctors and medical personnel arrested by state security forces last Saturday during a health seminar inside a resort in Morong, Rizal.

Officials of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army insisted that those arrested were members of New People’s Army and were conducting training on bomb making when the 300 government troops raided the venue, arrested the health workers and brought them to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal over the weekend. With reports from Pepsi La Loma and Sarsi Pimentel

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Fisherfolk clients of 43 arrested health workers to mount 5-vehicle caravan in Rizal to press release

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Rey Manangan and Billy Javier Reyes

Manila, Philippines-Regular fisherfolk clients of 43 doctors and health workers arrested by state security forces on Saturday in a resort in Morong, Rizal will stage a five-vehicle caravan to press for the immediate and unconditional release of whom they called “the people’s doctors and medical personnel”.

In a press statement, fisherfolk activists belonging to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) will be joined by progressive party list group Anakpawis and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLMM) in a 5 jeep caravan along the lake towns of Morong, Teresa, Baras, Cardona, Binangonan, Angono and Taytay all in Rizal province.

“We are their regular clients who are not charge of any single cent since time immemorial. These are doctors and health workers who take care of people’s health and they are not terrorists or bomb makers as maliciously and categorically tagged by the terrorist people in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and their criminal masters- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzalez,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a press statement.

The five-vehicle caravan will start in Binangonan and will proceed to Morong, Barras, Teresa, Cardona, Angono and Taytay towns in Rizal. Aside from demanding the release of 43 medical personnel, Pamalakaya’s caravan will also highlight the demand of the lake people to stop all anti-fisherfolk and anti-environment projects across Laguna Lake, including the halt on demolition activities and the pullout of military troops in different areas of the lake.

The caravan will also campaign for Anakpawis party list and the senatorial bids of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Party list Rep. Liza Maza.

Pamalakaya’s Hicap asserted the arrest of 43 doctors and community based health workers is line with the legal offensive ordered by defense secretary and security adviser Gonzalez issued last week to commence the final staging of the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 2.

“The the arrest of 43 medical volunteers was presided by Gonzalez’s order last week for all government units to heighten its legal offensive against members of militant groups as Oplan Bantay Laya 2 ends with the term of President Macapagal-Arroyo in June 30, 2010.

Hicap said Secretary Gonzalez and the national security gang in Malacanang had agreed to pursue and intensify the fabrication of trump up charges against leaders and members of militant organizations which the military branded as front organizations of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing the New People’s Army.

“What happen in Morong, Rizal was a wholesale political abduction, political kidnapping, gross disrespect of people’s constitutional and basic human rights and all-out political persecution done in the name of a brutal, corrupt and evil regime of Mrs. Arroyo and her extrajudicial killing republic,” the Pamalakaya leader said.#

Health workers provide free medical services and medicines to the people. They are not terrorists as what the AFP want them to appear with the public

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