Press Statement of the Morong 43

Press Statement
April 12, 2010

We, the 43 community health workers also known as the Morong 43, condemn our illegal arrest and continued detention with emotional and psychological torture. We are unjustly and gravely accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. As community health workers, we were conducting training to save lives and not to end lives.

We condemn our military captors’ roughshod way of arresting us. In the early morning of February 6, 2010, as we were preparing for our health training, around 300 military men in camouflage uniform with covered nameplates surrounded our sleeping quarters and training venue. They bodily searched our male and some female companions, herded us into driveway, handcuffed and blindfolded us and brought to Camp Capinpin.

Our demands to be shown a search or arrest warrant, to talk to the arresting officers and to wait for our lawyers before going to the military detention were snubbed. Instead we were told that their way of arrest was a “standard operating procedures.”

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We abhor the military’s way of extracting information from us to justify their illegal arrest and continuing detention. For 36 hours and 48 hours to some of our companions after our arrest, we were handcuffed and blindfolded while being harassed, threatened, physically and emotionally tortured. We were deprived of sleep and from time to time questioned and forced to admit that we are NPAs. We were fingerprinted while blindfolded. Our pictures in three views were taken.
Questioning, threatening and deceitful offers of house and lot, money and freedom in exchange for military “cooperation” by our military captors continued at the detention center anytime of the day until the last week of February. Questions asked by our military captors were not related to the making of explosives or firearms. Some of us are still in isolation cells.

We were deprived of legal counsel for 5 days after our arrest and doctors of our own choice.

Five of our companions were deceitfully and forcefully removed from our detention center. They are made to cooperate with the military for the latter’s propaganda purposes and to testify against us.

From time to time, our military captors denied our basic rights as detainees. Our outside morning exercises are curtailed, hot water and drinking water is limited or even stopped and sun drying of our laundry is banned if military captors get angry with us for no reason. Confiscation of paper, writing materials, tissue and even plastic continues.

Bugging device is installed. We are photographed by our military captors when going to court hearings. We are videotaped when government officials visit us like the visit of Secretary Cabral of the Department of Health and the Philippine Medical Association President.

We believe that the AFP and PNP false turnover is an evasion of the responsibility of our illegal arrest and detention.

We thank the overwhelming support of individuals and organizations of freedom-loving citizens here and abroad for the injustice done to us by the armed forces, Norberto Gonzales and the Arroyo regime. We condemn Norberto Gonzales’s pronunciation of the organization as fictitious. It only shows Norberto Gonzales as desperate and egoist.

We are the victims of gross human rights violations wrought by the AFP, Norberto Gonzales, and the Arroyo administration’s political desperation and fanatic goal of ending insurgency at all cost even to the extent of trampling civilian rights and the rule of law.

We are the Morong 43 still seeking justice!

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