“Every day in jail is an injustice to us,” the health workers said. “Our action today and in the succeeding days is a call to President Aquino to simply order the withdrawal of the case against us forthwith so that we may be immediately and unconditionally released.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – After almost ten months in detention, the 43 health workers started their hunger strike early morning of Dec. 3.
“Today we begin our hunger strike. This is the only course of action left to us to end our continued illegal detention, there being no clear action by the government for our unconditional release,” the Morong 43 said in a statement released to the media.
The health workers, now known as the Morong 43, were arrested on Feb. 6 in Morong, Rizal by around 300 combined elements of the police and military. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. The health workers said they were subjected to physical and psychological torture during their detention at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. Thirty-eight have been transferred to civilian detention facilities at Camp Bagong Diwa since May 1 and five have remained under military custody.
“Every day in jail is an injustice to us,” the health workers said.
Relatives and supporters of the Morong 43 gather at the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) national cathedral and start their sympathy fasting. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
Amid calls from the international community and protest actions here and abroad, President Benigno S. Aquino III has decided to leave to case of the Morong 43 to the local court. “The president himself has admitted that our arrest was based on a defective warrant and that “evidence wrongly gotten cannot be used.” Yet despite these findings, there are no clear indications that the charges against us will be withdrawn anytime soon,” they said.
After Justice Secretary Leila de Lima submitted her review and recommendations on the case of the Morong 43, Aquino, in response to a question posed by the media, said: “It [warrant] was for a different person…what was raided was not the person identified in the warrant nor the location. Their only similarity has to deal with being in the same barangay (village). So there really was a question in all the evidence [that was obtained] right away, I understand, there’s a concept in law called fruit of the poisonous tree — it can’t be used against the defendants.”
“Our action today and in the succeeding days is a call to President Aquino to simply order the withdrawal of the case against us forthwith so that we may be immediately and unconditionally released,” the Morong 43 said. “We fight not only for our freedom but for the freedom of all political prisoners nationwide.”
Medical Checkup for Women Detainees Denied
Dr. Geneve Rivera, secretary general of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), told Bulatlat in a phone interview that the jail warden at Camp Bagong Diwa did not allow her to conduct a medical checkup on the Morong 43 women detainees.
“We were told that we are not needed there because they have their own doctor. The women detainees asserted that they wanted me to do the checkup but the jail warden refused,” Rivera said.
Rivera was only allowed to visit the women detainees. “I was there until 4 p.m. and the women detainees were not given medical attention at all. There was a nurse there but she was just sitting the whole time,” Rivera said.
Rivera was allowed to conduct a medical checkup on the male detainees. She said three of them have high blood pressure and one is underweight. “They need to be closely monitored,” Rivera said.
Rivera said the morale of the detainees remains high.