MANILA, Philippines – Taking their struggle to the next level, former detainees and members of the so called Morong 43 trooped to the Quezon City Hall of Justice today to formally file a civil case against top ranking government and military officials believed to be behind the gross injustices they were made to suffer in the 10 months that they were unlawfully detained.
The plaintiffs are suing for damages totaling P15 million for physical and psychological torture and other forms of indignities they suffered during their illegal arrest and detention. Defendants named in the suit are former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, former Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado, Gen. Delfin N. Bangit, former commander of the 2nd Infantry Division (ID) Gen. Jorge Segovia, commander of the intelligence unit of the 2nd IDPA Lt. Col. Cristobal Zaragosa, 2nd IDPA Warden Major Manuel Tabion, commander of the 202nd Infantry Batallion (IB) Col. Aurelio Baladad, 16th IBPA commander Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag, and Rizal Provincial Police Office commander P/Supt. Marion Balolong.
The case was filed by six of the Morong 43 health workers namely, Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, Dr. Alexis Montes, registered nurse Gary Liberal, registered midwife Ma. Teresa Quinawayan, Reynaldo Macabenta, and Mercy Castro.
With the filing of the suit, the health workers said that they are taking on a new chapter in their quest for justice. “We want to send a strong message that one cannot just get away with human rights violations. This is our contribution to efforts in making sure that human rights violators are made accountable for their actions,” Liberal, one of the plaintiffs, said.
Liberal furthered that they are aware of the red-scare tactics the military is once again attempting to employ citing the AFP’s press releases that their troops identified four former Morong 43 detainees in 2 separate clashes between the New People’s Army and AFP soldiers in Luzon. “If there is one thing that the military is very good at, it is recycling terrible arguments such as the Morong 43 being members of the NPA. Their own lies further expose their institution as prime human rights violators. Nobody believes them anymore,” Liberal stressed.
He added that the Filipino people and thousands of citizens from more than 32 countries, many of them prominent in their fields of expertise, serve as their inspiration in the filing of civil case.
Free the 43 Health Workers! Alliance’s Carlos Montemayor added that their group fully support the Morong 43’s quest for justice. He said that their group will never tire of “beating the gongs of human rights issues” even if most of the Morong 43 are now free. Two of them, Rogelio Villarasis and Mario Delos Santos, are still detained at Camp Bagong Diwa because of trumped up charges against them. Their legal counsels are still working for their release.
As the new commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, the alliance challenged the Aquino government to ensure that the military and police will fully cooperate in the court hearings. They also enjoined the public to keep their vigilance to avoid any whitewash.