KAIROS-Canada demands release of Morong 43

ANTIPOLO CITY, March 4, 2010—Support from different ecumenical groups has been pouring for the arrested 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal.

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives demands the Philippine government to immediately release the Morong 43, which has been reported heavily tortured—physically, emotionally and psychologically.

“KAIROS is gravely concerned about the conduct of the arrest.  Furthermore, we wish to convey our indignation about the torture and indignities to which the 43 arrested medical and health workers continue to be subjected to.  Dr. Alex Montes, a 62-year old surgeon and long time staff member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines was among the 43 illegally arrested medical and health workers.  According to Romeo Capulong, head of the Public Interest Law Centre representing the 43 detainees, Dr. Montes was subjected to electric shocks, blindfolded and handcuffed for 36 hours and was made to drink water laced with chemicals that made him numb,” read KAIROS’ statement.

The group believes that the illegal arrest and the detention of Morong 43 is connected with the Operational Plan Bantay Laya (OPLAN Freedom Watch) or the counterinsurgency program by the Macapagal-Arroyo government which has started in 2001, months after Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came into power through Edsa People Power 2.

KAIROS had also expressed fear, that gross human right violations in the Philippines will prevent the Filipino people in participating in the upcoming May 10 elections because of fear for their safety and security.

Aside for the immediate and unconditional release of the Morong 43, KAIROS-Canada also urge the government to “ensure the safety of these detainees, provide unlimited access to their family members and legal counsel while in custody of the military,” and “conduct an impartial investigation into the legality of their arrest and detention, and the allegation of torture and indignities inflicted on them while in detention.”

Meanwhile, the ecumenical group has also called on Mrs. Arroyo, as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces to “protect citizens from persecution, intimidation and violence directed against opposition groups, and to ensure that the coming national election in May is not marred by violence and fraud.”

It also urged the Philippine government to religiously implement the recommendations UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial killings and Summary executions, Philip Alston to end human rights violations in the country. (Read another story here.)