Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bayan calls on Aquino admin to review cases of Morong 43 after mom and child brought to Bicutan jail

Bayan calls on Aquino admin to review cases of Morong 43
after mom and child brought to Bicutan jail

by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

August 19, 2010

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) today denounced what it described as the "inhumane" transfer of political detainee Judilyn Oliveros and her three-week-old son from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to the police's Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City. Bayan also said Oliveros and her son's transfer underscores the need for the government to review the cases filed against the "Morong 43."

Oliveros was led out of the Philippine General Hospital on a wheelchair and in handcuffs. She was not able to carry her baby on the trip during the transfer.

Oliveros is one of the health workers collectively known as the “Morong 43,” who were arrested last Feb. 6 on the basis of a defective warrant while holding a Community First Responders’ Health Training in Morong, Rizal. They were detained at the military’s Camp Mateo Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, where they were subjected to inquest proceedings without counsel. They face charges of illegal possession of firearms, illegal possession of explosives, and violation of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban. Several of them have told of having been tortured while at Camp Capinpin. They were transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa on May 1.

Oliveros, a first-time mother, gave birth by Caesarian section at the PGH on July 22. She had been nursing her son in a room there under guard. It is not known whether the Bureau of Jail management and Penology (BJMP) has set up facilities for Oliveros and her son at Camp Bagong Diwa.

The lawyers of the “Morong 43,” led by Romeo Capulong of the Public Interest law Center (PILC) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), have filed a petition for Oliveros’s release on recognizance to allow her to breastfeed her son for at least six months.

State Prosecutor II Romeo Senson, the same prosecutor who subjected the 43 health workers to “inquest,” had filed a motion to oppose the petition. But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has expressed support for the non-separation of Oliveros from her son, and ordered the withdrawal of Senson's motion.

Morong Regional Trial Court Judge Gina Escoto, however, denied the petition of Oliveros's lawyers.

"What happened at the Philippine General Hospital was cruel," Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. said. "Mother and child should not have been brought in an unsafe facility. The handcuffing of a mother on a wheelchair is also too much,"

"The transfer of Oliveros and her son to Bicutan highlights the urgent need for the government, through the Department of Justice (DoJ), to review the cases filed against the 43 health workers," Reyes said. "Another 'Morong 43' detainee, Mercy Castro, is scheduled to give birth in October. The longer the cases against the 43 are not reviewed, the more it becomes possible for the fate of Oliveros and her son to be repeated."

Bayan urged the Morong RTC to reconsider its decision of sending Oliveros and her ch ild back to jail. “Both should be released on humanitarian grounds. All 43 detainees should be released because the charges against them are false and the arrests made were illegal,” Reyes said.

Judilyn Oliveros of the Morong 43 is taken from the hospital and returned to the BJMP detention facility in Bicutan. She is handcuffed and brought out on a wheelchair. She is unable to hold her newborn baby. The Morong RTC denied her motion for release despite the DOJ's withdrawal of its opposition. Both mother and child are now inside the Bicutan facility. Photo by Dr. Geneve Rivera, HEAD