Posts Tagged ‘morong 43’

Before midnight last night, 23 female detainees of the Morong 43 were released after the Morong RTC and MTC issued the much-awaited release order. Nearly an hour later, 10 male detainees were also released after processing. This brings the released detainees to a total of 33 out of the original 43. Five remain under military custody in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. Five remain at the BJMP facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan. Our lawyers are still working out their release after patently false and spurious charges were leveled against them on the day of their release. We will fight for the release of all the Morong 43.

Many probably were not able to watch the live broadcast and news reports till midnight when the members of the Morong 43 were released so here’s my account.

I arrived at BJMP in Bicutan at around 130pm because I had just come from Makati, and I figured it would be better to go straight to Bicutan than go back to Quezon City to wait. Upon arriving in Camp Bagong Diwa, I saw Dean Neil Doloricon, husband of Angela, and Ofel Balleta, mom of Jane. I was able to visit the female detention center and talked to some of them. They were a bit anxious. They had prepared a statement as early as December 15. They were in high spirits just the same. They started moving out some of their stuff days earlier.

I also saw members of the media waiting outside the BJMP gates. Some of them have been there since 9am, waiting for the release.

Meanwhile, relatives and health groups were staked out at the Morong courts waiting for the court order. None came during the morning. I was informed early afternoon that there appeared to be a court order already but because of some clerical error, the list seemed to lack some names, they could not issue it yet. This had to be resolved immediately with the DOJ which conducted the review of the case.

Back in Bicutan, we were furnished with a list of “requirements” for the release. Most of it had to do with bureaucratic clearances from the courts and the police. I was given the list by Ofel and had to inform the lawyers of the last minute paper work that had to be accomplished. Someone had to go to the different offices to get the necessary clearance. We had concerns that with the delays, the order might not come during office hours and may further delay the release of the detainees.

At around 4:45, we were informed that a court order had been issued and that the BJMP already had personnel in court ready to receive the order. The relatives gathered at the Morong court erupted in cheers upon learning of the court order. Finally, the day has come. Now they just had to bring the court order and necessary papers from Morong, Rizal to Bicutan.

It was becoming dark outside the BJMP gates. The media were still there with us. Relatives and supporters of the 43 started arriving. Lawyers of the 43 also arrived to check on the processing of the detainees. The BJMP set up a police line to control the flow of people, especially the media.

Earlier, we had been informed of the necessity to discharge the Morong43 detainees who were confined in hospitals. Two Morong moms nursing their babies were at the PGH while one male detainee was brought to the Taguig District Hospital during the hunger strike. Franco was the first to be brought back to the BJMP. Two hours later, the Morong moms Judilyn and Mercy from PGH were also brought in.

Bureaucracy undoubtedly slowed down the process of release. We had to make calls to so many offices, and so many officials just to make sure the proper clearance would be given on the same day.

It was getting close to midnight and we were informed that the processing and release was ongoing. The female detainees were the most likely to be released first as the DOJ had apparently raised some issues in relation to the release of the male detainees.

Just before midnight, it was announced that the female detainees would be coming out. Delia Ocasla was the first to step out of the BJMP gates amid cheers and applause from the crowd. One by one as they walked out the gate, with raised fists and shouting “Palayain ang lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal!” Dr. Merry Mia- Clamor was the last female detainee to step out of the gates. The release was covered live by ANC. The female detainees all wore white shirts that said “I’m proud to be a community health worker”. The detainees walked from the BJMP gate to the parking lot where their relatives were waiting. There was a brief yet tearful reunion for the families of the Morong 43.

Because it was getting late, the detainees immediately boarded waiting vehicles and were brought to the presscon venue in Quezon City. We had a convoy of several cars. Relatives and advocates of the male detainees stayed behind to await the processing of some 15 detainees.

We arrived at the presscon venue in E.Rodriguez, Quezon City at around 1am. We were welcomed by a crowd consisting of various sectors that had supported the 43 during the last 10 months. At this time, the detainees had only seen their families briefly at the parking lot in BJMP. The families rode in separate vehicles. So when the ex-detainees arrived at the venue, that was the first time they really were able to hug and greet their loved ones.

They entered the venue with people singing “Awit ng Pag-asa”, a song that has become sort of a theme song for the detainees themselves. Anyone who has visited the female detainees would know this. Cordillera groups also played indigenous percussion instruments as the detainees entered the room. A short press-conference followed.

At the press-con, the detainees were finally free to fully express themselves. Their media appearance last Dec.10 was under strict regulation by the courts. They were not allowed to discuss anything related to their case. This was the first time they could say anything they wanted, because they were free.

And so Mama Del recounted how the gun was planted in her pillow and how she was accused of possessing a gun even at her age of 62. She recounted how the worst part of her detention was while they were inside the military camp in Rizal.

Tere, a midwife, expressed her desire to go back to community work. All of them wanted to resume their service to the people. Jane read a statement prepared by the group, thanking all their supporters and calling on the government to free all political prisoners.

And yes, the detainees said that they longed to eat something good. They did not eat dinner that day as they were waiting to be processed for release. And they had just come from a difficult hunger-strike. After a brief QnA with the media, we all sat down to eat.

During the presscon, we were also informed that 10 male detainees have been cleared for release. Five more remained inside BJMP in Bicutan. The basis for detaining them ranged from spurious charges to having similar names with other accused. Our lawyers will continue to fight for their release.

Many have asked what of the 5 detained in Camp Capinpin under the military. We have no idea of their situation as of now. The mother of one of the detained in Capinpin, Nanay Adoring, appealed for the release of her son during the press conference. She had not seen her son since March.

It was already 2am. People still had energy. We went home to rest and left the ex-detainees and their families at the venue. I posted my last tweet at around that time. Many had followed the events via twitter and FB. Media outfits like Bulatlat and Pinoy Weekly provided continuing coverage of the release.

It was a tiring but happy day for all of us. For those asking where the Morong 43 detainees are and what they are doing, well, they’re with their families. They are resting and they request that they be given some time to spend with their families. The sure deserve it.

P.S. – There were quite some funny moments while waiting for the release order outside the BJMP gates. Anyone who had what appeared to be a court document would be hounded by the media, even if the document had been shown to them several times already. And since we’ve been waiting so long outside, anyone coming out of the gate would be mistaken for a detainee being released. Talk about false alarms. When Beng rushed from the gate to hug me, media thought she was a detainee being released. Beng just came from the Morong PNP to get the police clearance, one of the requirements set forth by the BJMP.


For two years now, I’ve come out with this year-end list of what for me are the “Top 10 Mass Movement Moments” in recognition of the efforts of various sectors and groups in advancing the struggle for genuine freedom and democracy. It’s a personal list and I encourage folks to make their own so we can look back at the year with a positive vibe and look forward to the new year with great optimism and firmer resolve.

Here are some of the “mass movement moments” that made a huge impact on public consciousness, mobilized a great number of people and showed oustanding militancy by the struggling people.

  1. The fight to “Free the 43” is on top of my list. This campaign was a very broad fight, waged here and abroad, involving various sectors, groups, personalities, and political forces. It was a major human rights issue that tested the Aquino administration. The best part is that the campaign proved successful insofar as pressing the new government to withdraw charges against the 43. On December 17, 33 detainees were released. On December 29, two more detainees were freed. Three detainees remain in Bicutan while 5 have opted to stay with the military. This is one campaign that should be summed up because it offers a lot of lessons both political and legal.
  2. The struggle for land in Hacienda Luisita. This fight has been waged for two decades now but 2010 was another major high point in the struggle. For the first time, the HLI land dispute, which had the stock distribution option as the main issue, was set for oral arguments by the Supreme Court. It was also during this period that the HLI management sought to maneuver and undermine the court proceedings by issuing a bogus compromise deal. The sham compromise was immediately exposed by the farmers and their lawyers. Protests were held at the SC and in HLI. The case is yet to be resolved. The farmers have rejected the mediation being conducted by the SC.
  3. The militance of the North Triangle residents. This is one struggle where we saw the determination of the urban pooor in defending their right to housing. With no real relocation plans waiting for them, the residents of North Triangle QC relied on their own organized strength and militantly resisted the demolition teams, resulting in street battles along EDSA. The residents were able to get a reprieve and the demolition attempts appeared to have stopped for the meantime.
  4. The “kuliglig” drivers’ resistance. This is another display of militance by working people defending their right to livelihood. On the day they were to be banned form main roads, the kuliglig drivers assembled near Manila City Hall and blocked the main road with their vehicles. The protest on December 1 was violently dispersed by the police. Thirteen were arrested, many were injured. The economic crisis is so severe that people are ready to protest when their livelihood is threatened.
  5. The nationwide protests and strikes by students and teachers against budget cuts in education. The sustained protests against the budget cuts were able to mobilize thousands nationwide. The actions were laudible because aside from the numbers mobilized, the activities were broad, alliance-based actions.  Students and teachers marched side by side with school administrators.
  6. Guarding the automated elections. The year 2010 was historic also because of the first automated nationwide polls. People were anxious about the reliability of the elections, especially when there is the fear of a failure of elections and a GMA-holdover. Various groups were organized, including AES Watch, Kontra Daya and the nationwide network of TFPW. There were also broad protest actions against any failure of elections and GMA’s holdover. The Jericho March at the Comelec united many groups opposed to GMA.
  7. Electoral victories – 2010 also saw gains in the electoral arena as progressive partylist groups gained more votes and a new progressive partylist entered Congress. The increase in votes however was undermined by the many bogus partylist groups that the Comelec accredited. The 2010 elections also provided valuable lessons in the conduct of a nationwide campaign for the Senate.
  8. GMA’s last days in office. Arroyo’s last days in office were marked with protest actions demanding accountability. On June 29, Bayan led protesters to a march in Mendiola. A giant mural as unveiled and dancers dressed in prison orange danced to the tune of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”.
  9. Aquino’s first SONA. The SONA march was the signal fire in challenging and exposing the new Aquino regime. The challenge revolved around economic policies, human rights, justice and national sovereignty. Nearly 10,000 marched to Batasan on that day. The SONA speech fell short of many people’s expectations and showed the main weaknesses and lack of depth of the Aquino government.
  10. Fight against impunity. This year the fight against impunity continued. We marched to condemn the extrajudicial killings under the new administration. Despite Palace claims that 3 out of the 6 cases have been prosecuted, more killings emerged reaching a total of 20 as the year ended. This year also marked the first anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, with journalists and social activists holding activities in Mendiola and Maguindanao.

The biggest challenge now is to arouse, mobilize and organize the Filipino people in their millions nationwide. The challenge is not without basis. The  international and domestic crisis continues to worsen. The militant struggle of the residents of North Triangle and the kuliglig drivers is an indication of the readiness of the people to fight for their rights. As we take stock of our vcitories and shortcomings, we are evermore committed to the struggle for genuine freedom and democracy.

2010 has been a great year with its share of difficulties and trials. 2011 does not promise to be less difficult. However, in remaining steadfast in our principles and in continuing to rely on the strength of the masses, our future remains bright.

P.S. Special recognition is in order for the people behind DUKOT which won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Cinematography in the recently concluded FAMAS Awards. Congrats to Direk Joel Lamangan, Boni Ilagan, Alen Dizon and the producers. This may just be the beginning of a renaissance of socially-relevant films getting mainstream success.

No order came out today from the Morong RTC and MTC. It’s been two days since the court concluded the hearing. The case is already submitted for decision.

Today, relatives and supporters of the Morong43 waited outside the court for any news. The judge appeared to be reviewing the documents submitted yesterday. If the judge is studying the documents to make sure that the decision she will render is air-tight, then that is understandable. However, further delays may give time for those wishing to sabotage the release to maneuver. It is no secret that groups like ANAD are actively and openly opposing the release. ANAD apparently has even manuevered to get its position aired by the House Minority, unbeknownst to the leadership of the Minority. Many members of the Minority, even Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, signed the Paid Ad for the Morong 43. So it is just weird if the Minority would make a sudden turn-around. Just goes to show the great lengths groups like ANAD will go to undermine the release of the 43.

Tomorrow we will again wait outside the Morong courts. Christmas is fast approaching and long wait has been really stressful especially for the families of the 43. Tomorrow will mark one week since Pres. Aquino issued the order withdrawing the case against the health workers.

We enjoin everyone to attend the welcome activity for the 43. An announcement will be made thru text, Twitter and FB on the time and venue of the activity. Stay tuned.


THIS JUST IN: ANAD nuisance Pastor Alcover files another “Motion to Intervene” before Morong courts to oppose the DOJ motion withdrawing the charges against the Morong 43. This guy never quits. His filing, other than exposing what an incorrigible a** he is, is legally meaningless.

Last Monday, December 13, the Department of Justice finally filed a motion to withdraw information (charges) against the Morong 43. The move was the result of an earlier pronouncement from Malacanang made during Human Rights Day. Afte the filing of the DOJ motion, our lawyers filed a manifestation on the following day, December 14, joining the motion of the DOJ.

Nonetheless, the Morong RTC Judge Gina Escotto set the motion for clarificatory hearing because the DOJ failed to attach the review resolution which was the basis of the motion to withdraw, and because the prosecutors did not provide the defense counsel copies of the motion via personal service.

Also on December 14, anti-communist nuisance and AFP attack-dog ANAD through Rep. Pastor Alcover, filed their opposition to the DOJ motion and moved for the cancelation of the scheduled hearing. Alcover claims he is a public official and a “person in authority” hence he should be allowed to intervene in the proceedings.

December 15, at 10:00am the Morong RTC conducted a clarificatory hearing. The DOJ joined the defense lawyers in opposing the ANAD motion. The DOJ also submitted the review resolution on the case of the Morong 43. The hearing was concluded before 10:30 am. The judge said that she will rule on the motion to withdraw “expeditiously”. Our lawyers have asked us to standby within the day and up to tomorrow for the issuance of the resolution.

It is our hope that we will get a favorable decision and that the release of the detainees can be processed immediately. So now we wait and prepare to welcome the Morong 43 detainees when they are released.




There was an outpouring of emotions yesterday at the BJMP facility in Bicutan as the Morong 43 heard the news of the withdrawal of the charges against them.

We were fortunate to be there with the detained health workers when the announcement was made. I went in the detention facility with Atty. Jules Matibag, counsel for the detainees, and Dr. Beng Rivera, HEAD Sec-Gen and doctor for the health workers on hunger strike. We were joined by staff from the office of Rep. Neri Colmenares.

December 10 was the day set by the Morong Court for media interviews for the detained health workers. We were able to get a court order that allowed some media outfits to conduct one-on-one interviews on the condition that these interviews would not touch on the merits of the case.

We came in the detention facility early. I talked to the female detainees first and they all seemed anxious about what would transpire during the day. I told them that there was an activity being held in Malacanang and we too were anxious of what announcement will be made, if ever there was one. I asked them if we had a radio so we could monitor.

Jules and Beng came in next together with the media outfits. When the media came in, the female detainees stood and raised their clenched fists. They were still on hunger strike and were so physically weak they couldn’t even sing their usual “Awit ng Pag-Asa”.

The media activity started at 9:43am. The detainees prepared a short statement for Human Rights Day that was read by Yollly. Teresa, a midwife, then read a poem she wrote for the birthday of her child last July. She said she was sorry she couldn’t be there for the birthday, and explained the sacrifices she had to endure in serving the people. The detainees started shedding tears. We too were moved. Any parent could readily empathize.

Seven of them then introduced themselves as the persons who would be interviewed. They were Delia, Doc Merry, Yolly, Jane, Mama Del, Teresa and Angela. Delia was first to speak, expressing her sadness that she couldn’t be with her child who is facing a serious ailment. The detainees had their individual interviews. Mama Del, who was 62 and the most senior in the group, was overcome with emotion. Her blood pressure shot up. Jane, a fellow detainee, took her BP. Beng had to monitor Mama Del during her next interviews. Some interviews were just heartbreaking to watch, many of the detainees being mothers or grandmothers separated from their families because of their detention.

We waited for an announcement from the radio. None had come at that time. Jules was already arguing with the BJMP officials who were insisting we wrap- up even if the media activity hadn’t reached an hour.

The interviews ended and no announcement came. We told the detainees to keep monitoring the news when they got back in their cell. Before we left, the female detainees posed for a group shot, did their “Palakpak 43”, four claps and three stomps, and chanted “Free the 43!”.

We then proceeded to the male detention facility. At first the deputy warden said we couldn’t proceed because the time set had already lapsed. Jules again had to argue with the jail officials. We were then given 30 minutes to do everything.

When we and the media entered the chapel in the male detention area, we were shocked to see the detainees in handcuffs. We protested this and said we will not allow them to be interviewed under such conditions. Deputy Warden Heje ordered the handcuffs removed.

The male detainees were missing 4 members. Three had opted to stay in their rooms, because they felt weak. One was taken to a hospital earlier because of the effects of the hunger strike. Nurse Gary Liberal, who worked as the head nurse at the operating room of the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital, gave the opening statement. The individual interviews came soon after.

We had no radio to monitor any announcement from Malacanang. We were growing restless. Then, I got a call from Karapatan. Aquino had announced the withdrawal of the charges against the 43. I had to contain my own emotions and get clarification. Again, another call came, and this time a clearer explanation of what just happened.

As I announced this to the detainees, instantly they clapped, cheered and cried. Their 10 month ordeal would finally be coming to an end. We hugged each other, happy for the positive result of our struggle. Jules and Beng had to go to the cells of the 3 other detainees to tell them the good news. The three, including Doc Alex already knew, and were waiting at the gates.

Back at the female detention facility, the Morong detainees were huddled inside their cramped cell, monitoring the news on TV. Upon hearing the announcement, they erupted in cheers of joy, almost as if their cell was going to collapse.

Other detainees in the compound also shared their happiness. Unknown to many, some 400 other detainees in BJMP had signed a petition calling for the release of the 43.

At the hunger strike center at the Philippine Independent Church in Manila, where the relatives of the 43 were gathered, it was the same scene of jubilation. Judilyn and Mercy, who were at the PGH nursing their babies, also monitored the announcement. Franco, who was hospitalized during the hunger strike, apparently was also watching the news at the time.

We got to talk with the female detainees after the announcement was made. They were all so happy. Those who felt weak earlier were now energized. Some of them still couldn’t believe it. “Kasama ba ako (sa lalaya)?” asked Mama Del. Jaq wrote a short statement on a page of a small notebook, expressing the group’s thanks to all those who supported them for the last 10 months. They described the announcement as not just their victory but “a victory for the people seeking justice and the right to health”. The statement was read to the media and during the rally in Mendiola.

The hunger strike was lifted later that day. The congressional staff of Neri brought the detainees soup and biscuits, their first real taste of food since the hunger strike started last December 3. The hunger strike lasted one week, culminating with the announcement of the withdrawal of charges against them.

This is indeed an important political and legal victory, one that the AFP so desperately tries to downplay as a ‘minor setback’. I hope to write about that in a later post. There will be accountability for those who violated the rights of the Morong 43, make no mistake about that. Right now, many of us are just enjoying the great feeling of being a part of this successful struggle for freedom. One cannot measure the joy that the detainees and their families are now experiencing.

The DOJ said that it will file the motion on Monday. Our lawyers would want it to be immediately set for hearing so that the court can issue a ruling. We hope the courts can act on this immediately so that the 43 will be reunited with their families on Christmas.

For me, that was probably the happiest December 10 rally I’ve ever been a part of.

Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan

The International Human Rights Week is supposed to be a celebration of our enjoyment of rights as people, regardless of age, race, color or social status. But rampant violation of human rights across the nation could never give us the reason to celebrate.

As we continue our hunger strike, we express our solidarity with all the victims of human rights violations in their pursuit of justice. We also share the sentiments of other political detainees who suffer because of the slow course of justice. We condemn the killing of activists and journalists who have exposed realities of society. As health workers, we lament and strongly condemn the perpetrators who raped “Florence”, a nurse, and the senseless killing of botanist Leonard Co who contributed largely to the industry of herbal medicine.

These are only some of the numerous people who became targets of state agents for the mere reason that they serve poor communities. As health workers still detained for ten months, we share their plight and their families’ struggle. It is unfortunate that the price we have to pay to render service to far-flung communities is as expensive as our own life. Our experiences tell us the irony of being harassed, tortured, jailed or killed in a so-called “democratic” society.  While our constitution and international declarations all pertain to protection of human rights, we couldn’t but question the administration’s seeming indifference to us who are victims of state brutality and acts of torture.

Morong 43’s illegal detention for barely a year now should be more than enough time for justice to be rendered in our case. In spite of gross constitutional and human rights violations since the day were arrested, we patiently waited for the President’s “righteous path” to happen. Even our families and supporters have always been present in all our hardships, lobbying for our freedom and giving us the courage. Though they shed tears each day that passed that we’re still in jail, they were still hopeful, believing that our call to be free has not fallen of deaf ears.

We know that our hunger strike signifies a legitimate call, giving us the strength to continue our struggle until we are heard and freed. We therefore call on President Noynoy Aquino to rectify the errors done against us, especially the blatant HRV’s of the past regime. He should end this culture of impunity, heed the call of our people and show sincerity through concrete actions.

As we commemorate Human Rights Week, we call on the Filipino to continue the fight of those who have been killed or disappeared, and for those who still suffer because of injustice. Together, let us stand up and act for what is just and right.

Free the 43 health workers now!

Free all political prisoners!

Justice for all victims of human rights violations!

December 8, 2010

Reference: Dr. Geneve Rivera and Dr. Julie Caguiat


Franco Remoroso, 29 years old, recently diagnosed diabetic and on hunger strike was very weak this morning. He will be brought to the Taguig-Pateros District Hospital as soon as the BJMP can arrange a vehicle for the transfer.