Freedom for the 43 is a Welcome Holiday Gift & Victory for the People

News Statement
December 17, 2010

Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, email: chair@bayanusa.org

Freedom for the 43 is a Welcome Holiday Gift & Victory for the People—BAYAN-USA

The US Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, or BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino organizations across the US, congratulates and welcomes back the formerly detained health workers who were arrested under false charges while conducting a medical training seminar back in February of this year. After 10 months and 7 days in jail, during which time two of the women detainees gave birth to babies, the health workers are finally reunited with their families, loved ones, and millions of awe-inspired supporters and admirers across the globe.

The story of the Morong 43 teaches all of us valuable lessons in the power of human strength, fighting spirit, courage, conviction, perseverance, and collective action. Up until the very end, and under harrowing conditions, the detainees stood their ground and waged a hunger strike in protest of the baselessness of their detention and to demand their freedom.

Against the iron steel of the detainees’ unbroken conviction and overwhelming international pressure from a broad people’s struggle for their release, President Benigno Aquino III finally did the right thing by ordering the withdrawal of charges he had already declared as false against the Morong 43.

There is no doubt in our minds that the Morong 43, as well as the rest of the more than 300 political prisoners still languishing in jails across the country, are victims of Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), the Arroyo administration’s counter-insurgency campaign that the Aquino government has extended. International human rights advocates have criticized the US-engineered OBL for its unjustifiable targeting of civilians, such as the Morong 43, as so-called “communist fronts”.

President Aquino himself admitted the irregularities of the Morong 43’s arrest and detention, and we hope that the President may learn the most important lesson toward actualizing his administration’s commitment to human rights– that for as long as OBL is still in effect, gross human rights violations across the country will continue unabated by Philippine security forces.

Hopeful that next month’s preliminary peace talks between the NDFP and GRP set a positive and good-faith tone towards a formal resumption, and with renewed vigor to continue campaigning for the withdrawal of US aid to fund OBL into next year, BAYAN-USA calls on all to celebrate the end of another year of struggle and ring in the holiday season by celebrating the freedom of the detainees as a significant people’s victory. We thank the Morong 43 and their families for their stunning example of spirit and wish them all the best as we continue to struggle side-by-side with them for human rights.

MABUHAY ANG MORONG 43!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
SCRAP OPLAN BANTAY LAYA!
JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
NO MORE US TAX-DOLLARS FOR PHILIPPINE DEATH SQUADS!
TULOY ANG LABAN! CONTINUE THE FIGHT!

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