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International Rights Group Decides to Take On Case of Morong 43
International Group of Rights Lawyers Takes on Morong 43 Case
By Edwin C. Mercurio
Concern and frustration over the continued detention of health care workers in the Philippines has turned into an international embarrassment for a country still reeling from the mishandling of August 23 hostage taking in Manila by police authorities where scores of tourists were killed along with the hostage taker.
Jeanne Mirer, head of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) expressed her concern over the treatment and continued incarceration of what is now known as Morong 43.“We are very upset. The detention and the violations [committed against the Morong 43] are very disturbing to us,” the IADL president said.
“We believe that based on the established facts and the credible and consistent reports, some universal legal precepts were violated in their arrest, search and continued detention. We wish to register our alarm over reports of their torture and inhuman treatment in the hands of the Philippine state forces,” the IADL stated referring to the Morong 43 case.
IADL human rights lawyers met last September 15 with Philippine’s Justice Secretary Leila de Lima over concerns of human rights violations and the continued illegal detention of 43 health workers. The 43 health workers were illegally arrested with a false warrant by the Philippine soldiers and local police last February 6 in Morong, Rizal.
“We understand your concern,” De Lima told the nine-member IADL delegation “We are reviewing the case,” she said. De Lima added that she was tasked by President Benigno S. Aquino III to review the Morong 43 case and submit recommendations.
President-elect Benigno S. Aquino III appointed former Human Rights Commission Chairperson Leila de Lima as secretary of the Department of Justice upon his assumption into office. De Lima, “a feisty and independent-minded lawyer, is the one official in the benighted administration of (former) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that reaffirmed many people’s belief in the capacity of leaders to rise above themselves and their political affiliations and do something that is actually good.”
The health workers most of whom came from rural and far-flung villages were attending a seminar on community health care when they were arrested. After a typical military raid with no credible and independent witnesses to observe the conduct of the raiding party and search of the premises, the Morong 43, were charged with possession of firearms and explosive devices. In addition, the health workers, were tagged as members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), a revolutionary movement which the Philippine government considers as its most serious security threat.
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) founded in 1946 by a gathering of lawyers who had survived the war against fascism and participated in the Nuremberg trials officially registered its intent to take on the case of the Morong 43 as one of its major international campaigns. The IADL is a non-government organization with consultative status to the Economic Social Council (ECOSOC) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). IADL has members in 90 countries.
Sources: IADL, Bulatlat.com, Asia Correspondent