Freedom of the Morong 43 is fruit of the people’s struggle

19 Dec 2010

Press release Council for Health and Development - Philippines - 17 December 2010

They braved indefinable forms of human rights violations so that they may live to see the day when they will finally be reunited with their families and people they serve. The Morong 43 are finally free!

Today, ten months of roaring cries for freedom and justice voiced in different languages from all over the world bears fruit. Judge Gina Cenit Escoto, presiding judge of the Morong Regional Trial Court Branch 78 has finally released a decision late in the afternoon today to withdraw all cases filed against all of the 43 health workers.

Thirty-eight of the health workers were detained at Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City since May 1 while five others remained in military custody since their illegal arrest at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

Relatives and supporters have been waiting anxiously outside the Morong RTC since Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima filed for a motion to withdraw the cases Monday this week. They “peacefully picketed” outside the court building since Wednesday.

After the judge released the official decision, court staffs followed by the Morong 43 relatives and supporters proceeded to Camp Bagong Diwa, a civilian detention facility, to deliver the hard copy of the order which will facilitate the release of the detained health workers.

Registered nurse and alliance spokesperson Carlos Montemayor said that the health workers underwent a mandatory physical check-up by prison doctors for clearance, a requirement before a detainee is released from the prison camp’s custody.

Nursing mothers Judielyn Oliveros and Mercy Castro were transported from the Philippine General Hospital to Camp Bagong Diwa with their newborns to undergo prison protocols before they too are finally released.

From Taguig, the health workers will proceed to Quezon City for a press conference to thank all the people, including the media for “keeping the faith” and not giving up on their case. Montemayor said that the Morong 43 “took strength and refuge” in the massive local and international support this campaign gained since day one adding the struggle to free the 43 is within the overall struggle to free all political prisoners.

“Definitely, this is not the end of their story. The international movement on the campaign for health and human rights welcomes the additional 43 people with burning fervor and inspiration,” Montemayor added.

Carlos Montemayor
News and Analysis: