The Justice for the Morong 43 Alliance held a picket today, October 9, 2015 in front of the Quezon City Hall of Justice at 10:00 AM as they continue to seek justice through the civil suit filed against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and other defendants Norberto Gonzales and Manuel Tabion on grounds of illegal detention and torture.
“Tuloy ang kaso. Walang areglo,” is the firm decision of the members of the Morong 43 as they stand before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 81, under Judge Madonna C. Echiverri, for an Omnibus Motion (to declare defendants in default and set case for pre-trial) which was filed thru respective counsels. Representing the Morong 43 is Atty. Ephraim Cortez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL).
After the mediation proceedings, Atty. Cortez spoke be fore a crowd of patients whom the Dr. Montes and the Morong 43 serve, organizations, Community Health Workers, and other supporters gathered in front of the Quezon City Hall of Justice. “Our clients refused settlement. We look forward to presenting our evidences during trial and prove how the human rights of the Morong 43 were violated. Even the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) affirmed this,” explained Atty. Cortez.
The CHR confirmed in a 26-page resolution that the Morong 43 were indeed tortured and their human rights violated when they were illegally arrested in Morong, Rizal on February 6, 2010.
Dr. Alex Montes said, “We, the victims and complainants, are certain that we will pursue this case regardless of the defendants’ plea. Regardless of what the accused, and their camp, does to deny their accountability for the illegal detention and torture of the 43 health workers, we are firm in resisting any form of settlement, and we wish for the hearings to proceed. We have waited too long, and no amount of settlement may quench the health worker’s thirst for justice.”
Only lawyers for the GMA camp appeared in behalf of their clients. Speaking before the press, one of the legal counsels for the defendants said their clients are not willing to mediate the case saying GMA has no hand in what happened to the 43 health workers.
However, Dr. Montes asserted that their illegal arrest, 10 months of detention, and torture is proof enough that their human rights were violated and GMA, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ commander-in-chief is equally accountable by virtue of command responsibility. “Our arrest was carried out pursuant to the Internal Security Operation Plan or Oplan Bantay Laya approved by Mrs. Arroyo during her time as president,” added Dr. Montes.
He lamented that their ordeal affected not only them but their loved ones as well. “My children were gravely affected by what happened to us. Their work and studies were affected at the time because they trooped every day to our detention center in Camp Capinpin in Morong, Rizal and eventually to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.”
The alliance remains persistent in this case because it represents hope for all the victims of human rights violations committed by state officials in connivance with the military. The continuing attacks against health and developmental workers, such as the murdered Calago Couple in Negros, and the executed Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur, are calls for the nation to step-up its vigilance and collective action to ending impunity committed by state agents.
The 43 health workers were illegally arrested and tortured by military units on February 6, 2010. After 10 months of illegal detention, th
ey were freed days after International Human Rights Day of the same year due to national and international pressure on the Aquino government. The Morong 43, their relatives, and supporters still hope that after much delay since the case was filed in 2011, the court hearings would proceed until justice is achieved.