Members of Morong 43 who filed charges against the military and police / Photo from Bulatlat.com

Karapatan today lambasted the recent reported ruling of the 7th Division of the Sandiganbayan, which dismissed charges filed by the health workers collectively known as the Morong 43 on violations of their rights under Republic Act 7438. 

“The decision of the 7th Division of the Sandiganbayan on the Morong 43 case is one of the most stark indications that despite strong evidence and testimonies of human rights violations by State actors, impunity rules the land,” said Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor, who also testified in the said proceedings as husband of Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, one of the tortured and illegally arrested and detained members of the Morong 43. 

Clamor recalled the testimonies of the health workers on their torture, illegal arrest and detention, describing them as “hideous and downright abhorrent.” 

“They were blindfolded, handcuffed, and deprived of sleep and rest. They were subjected to relentless interrogation, threats, and intimidation. Some of them received beatings from their captors. They were subjected to humiliation when the soldiers refused to give them privacy when they used comfort rooms.  They were told that they have no other choice but to admit the trumped up charges filed against them, because their lawyers, families and organizations have abandoned them. They were threatened to be killed, along with their families. They threatened with sexual abuse and cruel treatment,” Clamor explained. 

“My wife and the 42 other health workers were denied legal counsels of their choice – lawyers whom we, their families, have sought assistance from. It is ludicrous for the Sandiganbayan justices to parrot the military and police officials’ claims that the lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers were not the lawyers of choice by the victims. We, their relatives, have been denied access to the Morong 43 for nearly a week when they were detained and were being tortured at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal,” Clamor asserted. 

Karapatan said that despite these charges, many of the respondents including Generals Jorge Segovia, Aurelio Baladad and Cristobal Zaragoza have been promoted to higher posts in the military hierarchy. Segovia was appointed as 10th Infantry Division chief of the Philippine Army and consequently Commanding General of the Eastern Mindanao Command. Baladad was assigned as 3rd Infantry Division-PA chief and also Commanding General of the Eastern Mindanao Command. In the cases of both generals Segovia and Baladad, numerous reports of human rights violations have been documented during their stints in Mindanao and Panay. Zaragoza meanwhile was previously assigned to the 4th IDPA in Northern Mindanao and is now Commander of the AFP’s Joint Task Force-National Capital Region.

“When torturers and human rights violators are rewarded with promotions and acquittals for the crimes they have perpetuated against individuals and communities, this means that the infrastructure of impunity has been so ingrained on the justice system in the country. From one regime to another, from Macapagal-Arroyo to Duterte, victims of human rights violations remain wanting for justice,” Clamor said. 

“We will continue to struggle for justice and accountability, alongside the victims of rights violations and the Filipino people. We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos to condemn this blatant use of the country’s justice system to enable murderers and torturers in uniform to evade accountability,” he concluded. 

Reference: 
Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, +639997721233
Karapatan Public Information Desk, +639189790580

KARAPATAN
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign. Karapatan Public Information Desk: +639189790580 | publicinfo@karapatan.org