Mercy Castro of the Morong 43 gave birth today at 9am to a healthy baby girl according to the health workers campaigning for her release. Castro is one of two pregnant women who were arrested in Morong, Rizal last February 6 in what is now collectively known as the Morong 43.
Judilyn Oliveros was the first to give birth last July 22. Through a court order, she has been allowed to breastfeed her baby at the Philippine General Hospital, but not before she was brought back to Camp Bagong Diwa on a wheelchair and in handcuffs. Judilyn has a 3-month old baby boy now.
Castro is the second to give birth, and is now also staying at the PGH. Lawyers have moved that she be given the same treatment as Oliveros insofar as breastfeeding her baby is concerned.
Eight months of detention and two babies later, we are reminded of the continuing injustice faced by the 43 health workers. Despite President Aquino’s articulation that the arrests and searches done in Morong were not in accordance with the law, there remains no official government action that will effect the release of the 43. Aquino has said that any rectification of the situation will need the sanction of the courts. But before the court can act on anything, government first needs to withdraw the cases filed against the 43. These include cases of illegal possession of explosives, which are non-bailable offenses. A 65-year old health worker who we fondly know as Mama Del was charged with illegal possession of firearms..
We certainly do not want the babies of the Morong moms to celebrate their first birthdays while their moms are still in detention.
There is no reason why government should not act and act with dispatch on this case. The calls are getting louder and more frequent from various sectors of society. The DOJ has submitted a review. Nasa Palasyo na ang bola. Hanggang kailan maghihintay ang katarungan?