CBCP Seeks Release of Morong 43

Monday, April 12th, 2010

MANILA, April 7, 2010-The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) came out in the open Wednesday demanding the release of the 43 health workers detained by the military.

In his strongest statement so far as CBCP head, Bishop Nereo Odchimar slammed the military for the seeming "lack of regard" for human rights and the rule of law.

"The illegal arrest and continued detention of the 'Morong 43' in a military facility represent serious threat to the civil liberties of the Filipino people," Odchimar said.

Citing the negative human rights record of the military, the bishop said the presence of the detainees in a military camp makes them "vulnerable to further abuses."

Sustained exposure to psychosomatic strains, he said, may eventually break the fortitude and resistance of the health workers into admitting under duress the accusations against them.

"We are deeply worried about the wellbeing of the health workers in Camp Capinpin (Tanay, Rizal)," Odchimar said.

The collegial body of the bishops also criticized the appellate court's ruling that junked the detainees' petition for writ of habeas corpus.

The Court of Appeals (CA) decision, he said, elevates the concerns of the Church on the delivery of justice for the accused.

"We are still troubled by the reality that the Court has just, in effect, sanitized and legitimized the violations committed by the military against the health workers," he said.

He expressed fear that such court ruling could also cause more unlawful arrest and detention.

It was last February 6 when the Morong 43 were arrested by the military and police operative during an alleged bomb-making training in a rest house in Morong, Rizal.

The group of doctors and nurses, belonging to a medical foundation under the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, denied the accusation saying they were just on the area for a medical mission.

The military has already claimed that five of the nabbed health workers reportedly confessed being communist rebels. (CBCPNews)




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