November 6, 2010
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Continued Detention of 43 Health Workers (+ 2 Newborn Babies) the Height of Indecency of Aquino Administration
Filipino-American Alliance Joins the International Day of Action to Free the Morong 43 + 2
While Philippine President Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III grants amnesty and coddles with mutinous rebel soldiers responsible for staging a coup against the government of his predecessor, he sets a new standard for hypocrisy and indecency with his refusal to release the 43 health workers– collectively known as the Morong 43– and two of their newborn babies born in detention.
PNoy has already gone on public record declaring the warrant used by the Philippine National Police to raid and arrest the 43 rural health workers who were conducting a medical training seminar in the farm compound of Dr. Melicia Velmonte last February 6th in Morong, Rizal was defective and false. As it stands, there is no legally justifiable reason for the continued incarceration of the 43 health workers.
Today officially marks the Morong 43’s ninth month in detention. It is also an international day of awareness and action urging President Aquino to issue an executive order to free the 43 +2 from their continued detention in Camp Bagong Diwa in Metro-Manila, and act that would be reminiscent of his mother’s executive decision to release all political prisoners in 1987, shortly after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship through the famous People Power Uprising.
PNoy aimed to paint a picture of compassion and respect for human rights when he made news calling for the release of Burmese opposition leader and political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi last month at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit. But such rhetoric appears empty when looking at the situation of political prisoners in his own country and only highlights his administration’s insincerity in pursuing a genuine agenda of respect and recognition for human rights that would set Aquino apart from past administrations.
In addition to the Morong 43+2, there remains over 388 political prisoners languishing in jails all over the country, while over a dozen civilian activists have already been murdered within the so-called “honeymoon” period of the Aquino administration this year.
Despite strong recommendations submitted to Malacanang and confirmation of physical and psychological torture being inflicted on the 43 by Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, PNoy’s deafening silence on the subject ignores the growing clamor in the Philippines and all over the world for the release of the Morong 43.
Continuing Failed and Scrutinized Counter-Insurgency of Arroyo
In addition to calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the Morong 43+2, BAYAN USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations across the United States, joins this international day of action to free the 43 by calling for PNoy to scrap the US-funded counter-insurgency program known as Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).
A president cannot be a human rights advocate and a red-baiter at the same time. PNoy’s decision to continue Arroyo’s McCarthyist campaign for blood against the above-ground, legal, unarmed Left in the Philippines is no proper foundation for a democracy, nor for a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Instead, his packs his so-called Truth Commission and the once-respectable Commission on Human Rights (CHR) with fellow red-baiters who continue to enforce the idea that one can and should be persecuted by the state for their political beliefs, even if they have committed no crime.
Perhaps when it comes to human rights, PNoy bears more resemblance to his parents’ arch-nemesis than to the the ideals of democracy and freedom his famous parents spoke of and wanted for their country.
FREE THE 43!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
SCRAP OPLAN BANTAY-LAYA!