By NORTHERN DISPATCH
BAGUIO CITY — Dr. Caster Palaganas, spokesperson of the Cordillera Health, Education, Services and Trainings in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore) welcomed the release of 38 of the Morong 43 saying this is a meaningful Christmas gift for the families and friends of the detained health workers.
Palaganas in behalf of the Chestcore and the health workers thanked all those who supported, believed in the cause and fought alongside for the freedom of the Morong 43.
Palaganas, however, said they are still longing for the release of the remaining five once they are cleared of their alleged admission that they are members of the New Peoples Army (NPA). She said the circumstances during their alleged admission should be investigated as reports showed that they were under duress at the time.
She also expressed support for the demand of the Human Rights Watch, an international group monitoring the case of the Morong 43, for an investigation of the alleged torture of the Morong 43.
Thirty eight of the 43 health workers illegally arrested and detained for more than 10 months were released yesterday evening, December 17 after the courts issued a release order. The other five as of press time are still being held by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Lawyer Jules Matibag of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) said the five in Camp Capinpin are included in the release orders and they should be immediately released to their families by their military custodians.
The said release order was issued at around 4:30 PM a week after President Benigno Aquino III ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop all charges against the Morong 43. RTC Branch 78 Judge Gina Cenit-Escoto and Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) Judge Rodrigo Posadas favored the motion filed by the DOJ withdrawing the charges against the health workers. The judge also directed the AFP to dispose of the items obtained from the raid, which included, weapons and ammunition that the authorities claimed they had found in the possession of the 43 when they were arrested in Morong in February 6.
Escoto also denied the opposition to the release filed by Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) Rep. Pastor Alcover.
Thirty five of the Morong 43 were illegally detained at the Metro Manila District Jail inside Camp Bagong Diwa. Two women, Carina Judilyn Oliveros and Mercy Castro, gave birth during their detention and have been placed under “hospital arrest” at the Philippine General Hospital, while one of the detainnes, Franco Romeroso, is confined at the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital after he suffered from dehydration due to diabetes. Five of the Morong 43 remains under AFP custody in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal for alleged other offenses.
The 43 health workers were arrested on February 6 this year by around 300 combined elements of police and military. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and were tagged as members of the New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) by the AFP, an allegation which they continuously denied. # nordis.net