MEDIA RELEASE

Reference:

Eleanor A. Jara, M.D. – 0927-9259413 | +63 2 929-8109

Council for Health and Development (CHD)

For the last stage of preliminary conference, no letting up in pursuit of justice – Morong 43

Not letting up on their continuing fight for justice, the Morong 43 healthworkers appeared before the sala of Judge Tita Marilyn Payoyo Villordon of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 224 for the last stage of preliminary conference for 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.

Council for Health and Development (CHD), the national organization of non-governmental community-based health program said it has been over five years since the Morong 43 were wrongfully arrested, detained and tortured by state agents.

Particularly in the Morong 43’s case, health and human rights advocates 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. We want to present our case to court and prove these officials are guilty of breaching the Morong 43’s human rights,” said CHD.

Health and development workers continue to be targets of attacks by the military and state institutions in the previous regimes, such as the case of the brutally murdered Calago couple in Negros Oriental and the Lumad leaders in Surigao del Sur.

The Morong 43 looks forward to presenting their case and evidence in a court trial. Even the Commission on Human Rights has found cause that they 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,” CHD furthered.

The next preliminary hearing is set on September 29, 2016.

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.##