The national peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights (Tanggol Magsasaka) renewed their call for the immediate and unconditional release of the arrested healthworkers dubbed as Morong 43 and peasant political prisoners.  Their renewed call is coinciding the ninth month of detention of the 43 health workers who were arrested on February 6, 2010 in Morong town, Rizal while conducting their medical training.  They were accused of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) by the military.

“We totally condemn the continued detention of the 43 health workers.  This is a gross violation of their rights as they are held though their arrests are clearly flawed and illegal.  We join the global call for their immediate freedom,” said Antonio Flores, KMP spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka Co-convenor who joined the caravan towards Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig.

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka also said that president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino’s inaction to their case is continuously destroying his self-projected image as “pro-democracy” and “pro-people.”  The groups said that the people are now awakened that Aquino is no different from former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as he continued the implementation of her counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, the very program that led the arrests of Morong 43 and other political prisoners.

“Now, no one can argue that Aquino is against human rights and democracy.  Health workers who chose to serve the people were persecuted and he continues to tolerate their detention.  He was able to give amnesty to rebel soldiers but not the freedom of helpless health workers,” said Flores.

Aside from the Morong 43, the groups are also calling for the immediate release of peasant political prisoners such as Dario Tomada, Felicidad Caparal, Darwin Liwag and Lumban 3, Eddie Cruz, Antipolo 4 (Rizal), Talisay 3 (Batangas), Cadiz 4 (Negros) and Myrna Cruz.  Tomada, Liwag and the other two of Lumban 3 were arrested during the first 100 days of Aquino as president.

“These political prisoners are organizing within the legal and democratic peasant organizations but they were targeted for political persecution.  Their only crime is to lead the peasant struggle for genuine land reform and the government sees it as illegal and basis for their arrest,” Flores said.

KMP said that the Aquino government is very far from being democratic as political persecution and human rights violations in the countryside are unabated.

“Aquino has an ‘eye’ against the Filipino peasants.  He continues to deprive Hacienda Luisita farmworkers and subjects the Filipino peasants to massive militarization causing destructive human rights abuses.  He is a total opposite of the ‘change’ he promised during elections and he is not an ‘anti-thesis’ of Arroyo but essentially of the same landlord feather.  All he had done so far are contrary to the interest of the peasants and the people, thus, we should all unite to defend our rights and livelihood against his policies and programs,” Flores called. #

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