22.12.10 10:36 Age: 1 yrs

WCC supports decision of Philippine president in releasing Morong detainees


On 3 December, members of a WCC-sponsored Living Letters team came to the Metro Manila district jail to visit the defendants in the Morong 43 case.

In a letter dated 21 December 2010, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed thanks to Philippine president Benigno S. Aquino III for the release of 43 community health workers and other health professionals who have been imprisoned since their arrest on 6 February in Morong, Rizal province. Military authorities held the detainees on suspicion of being associated with the New People's Army movement.


The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, extended the council's gratitude to the president "for your decision to restore the health workers to their families, communities and daily occupations" and urged President Aquino "to order a criminal investigation into allegations of torture and ill-treatment" while the health workers were in military custody.


On Friday 3 December members of a WCC-sponsored Living Letters team on a five-day visit to the Philippines discussed the human rights situation with government justice secretary Leila de Lima who was engaged in arguing for the release of the "Morong 43". Several members of the WCC team later met with defendants, family members and other supporters in the case.


The Rev. Tara Curlewis, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA), participated in the Living Letters visit. In a release from the NCCA, she recalls: "These community workers, many just volunteers, inspired us by their continuing concern for others. It was amazing to hear them say, 'we just want to be released because our patients need us'."


Full text of the WCC general secretary's letter


NCCA press release: Filipino Health Workers 'Morong 43' Walk Free (18 December 2010)


WCC press release: Philippine justice minister discusses human rights with WCC delegation (9 December 2010)