Philippines: Morong 43 and 100 other political prisoners nationwide stage protest fast

Filipinos here and abroad call for their immediate release

BY KARAPATAN

September 17, 2010

QUEZON CITY – More than a hundred political prisoners in various detention centers all over the country staged a protest fast to press for their immediate release, and supported by their relatives and human rights advocates.

Around 148 political prisoners from 20 detention facilities in the National Capital Region, Ifugao, Isabela, Tuguegarao City, Bohol, Danao City, Cebu City, Bacolod City, Tacloban City, Leyte Provincial Jail, Compostela Valley, Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro joined in protest of their continued unjust incarceration. High profile detainees from Camp Crame and the 43 health workers in Camp Bagong Diwa lead the protest fast of political prisoners in Metro Manila that also includes prisoners in New Bilibid Prison, Camp Karingal, and Correctional Institute for Women.

Meanwhile the relatives of the Morong 43 [imprisoned community health workers and doctors falsely accused of being members of the New People’s Army–ed.], supporters and human rights advocates also staged a sympathy fast in front of the Ninoy Aquino monument in Quezon Avenue. President Aquino’s father, Ninoy Aquino, himself was a former political prisoner during the Marcos dictatorship.

A mass for the Morong 43 at the neaby parish of St.Peters the Apostle was officiated by Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez. Sen. Loren Legarda, Human Rights Commissioner Jose Mamauag, former Rep. Liza Maza, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño also attended, together with relatives and other civil libertarians.

“It has been almost one hundred days since President Noynoy Aquino assumed the presidency and yet we haven’t heard any single word from the President about the plight and release of political prisoners who were illegally arrested and detained by the previous Arroyo regime,” said Fr. Dionito Cabillas, secretary general of Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA).

Dr. Julie Caguiat of the Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance, expressed disgust over the continued illegal detention and plight of the Morong 43. “They we’re detained on the basis of a faulty warrant using fictitious name. Our colleagues were tortured and sexually molested by the military,” Caguiat said. “The Morong 43 should be released now because their incarceration is patently illegal.”

On the other hand, Jigs Clamor, secretary general of Karapatan and husband of Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, one of the detained Morong 43, said, “Pres. Aquino must stop his empty rhetorics about the government’s respect for human rights since he has done nothing about respect for human rights and the plight of political prisoners”.

“The Morong 43 and all political prisoners are prisoners of conscience. They were arrested and detained because they fought against the corrupt and fascist Arroyo regime. Their continued incarceration is a sign of sick society under a government who claimed to respect for human rights,” Clamor added.

Simultaneously, the Filipino community in Canada will today hold a candle light vigil to press for the release of the Morong 43 and all political prisoners. Messages of support and solidarity from various groups from Auckland, Germany, U.S. and Canada were also sent.

Clamor said that the government must act now, and must act faster. “We are afraid that the fasting will become a full blown hunger strike and deal another political embarrassment for Aquino in the international community,” warned Clamor.

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