September 20, 2010
We, the imprisoned community health workers, known as the Morong 43, are still being denied justice. For almost eight months in detention, our motion for the writ of habeas corpus filed at the Supreme Court of the Philippines submitted last April has not been acted upon.
Although we are currently under civilian detention, we feel that our rights are gradually curtailed unreasonably. Restrictions on our rights started when we exercised our right to protest on the inhuman ruling of the lower court which brought Judilyn Oliveros and baby back to jail. (Now, Judilyn and baby are on three-month hospital arrest)
Unreasonable policies imposed by the jail personnel in Camp Bagong Diwa violate our rights. Unexplained policies are immediately being imposed while our welfare is halfheartedly taken cared of. Cooking, receiving and entry of donated uncooked vegetables, meat and fish are disallowed, when the vegetables we receive are supplements to the meager meal budgets of P50/person/day. Strip search, the process of undressing our visitors of their pants and undergarments, is a very humiliating act. In effect, this deters some relatives to visit our male companions, whose authorities in their jail facilities require strip search.
Mercy Castro, soon-to-be mother, was twice denied of check-up despite a court order, while Judilyn and baby were almost bodily brought back to jail upon the jail officials’ receipt of the court order.
Problems on the clogged toilets and sewerage in our cell, which were unusable for four days, were not immediately addressed. Medical check-ups and dispense of medicines were done only during Mondays, denying us of our right to access medicines whenever we get sick on other days. Our pens and papers were confiscated and banned entry. These are a few of the examples of unwritten policies in jail that violate our rights twice over inside prison. The jail warden of the women’s detention facilities has disregarded us whenever we seek to raise these concerns through dialogue and written communication. These are additional restrictions on our rights, but the worst violations are what we have traumatically experienced at the hands of the military when we were illegally arrested, tortured and detained.
While we are languishing in jail, our loved ones are suffering. They cannot understand why the rule of law and respect for human rights do not apply on our case. Our children are always asking when will we go home. They and the communities we serve are deprived of our care.
We appeal for your support to remind President Benigno Aquino III to hear our plea for immediate and impartial action on our case and release us from detention, to restore the rule of law and, above all, the respect for human rights. We likewise enjoin you in airing out to the public the dire conditions of prisoners inside Camp Bagong Diwa.
Free the 43 community health workers!
Free all political prisoners!
Uphold the rule of law and respect for human rights!