The Justice for the Morong 43 Alliance and its supporters held a protest action on November 11, 2015 at the Quezon City Hall of Justice, at 8:30 in the morning, in pursuit of the civil lawsuit filed against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and other defendants Norberto Gonzales and Manuel Tabion on grounds of illegal detention and torture.
Judge Madonna C. Echiverri, of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 81, wanted to hear both camps one last time in an attempt to offer mediation. Arroyo and her fellow accused were represented by lawyers. After more than an hour of talks among the accused, the victims and the court, both sides have refused mediation. Another hearing was set on February 3, 2016.
Dr. Alex Montes, one of the 43 health workers and spokesperson of the alliance said, “It’s been over five years since we were wrongfully arrested, detained and tortured by state agents. Particularly in the Morong 43’s case, we aim to prove that state policies such as Oplan Bantay Laya particularly target innocent civilians. Such heinous crimes involve command responsibility, and we seek justice. The alliance remains strong in pursuing the case nevertheless of the Arroyo camp’s plea or settlement. No amount of money will make us simply settle. We want to present our case to court and prove these officials are guilty of breaching our human rights.”
Montes also added, “As health and development workers continue to be targets of attacks by the military and state institutions even under the Aquino government, such as the case of the brutally murdered Calago couple in Negros Oriental and the Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur, we look forward to presenting our case and evidence in a court trial. Even the Commission on Human Rights has found cause that we were indeed tortured. If the Morong 43 could inch closer to justice in this case, it would be a symbol of hope for the all the victims of human rights violations committed by state agents and officials. State impunity must end.”
“Tuloy ang kaso. Dapat panagutin sina Arroyo.” Dr. Montes concluded.
The 43 health workers were illegally arrested and tortured by military units on February 6, 2010. After 10 months of illegal detention, they 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.