MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang Sunday said the government had nothing to hide in the case of the so-called “Morong 43,” amid a report that two staff members of an American congressman who were in the country recently had made inquiries about the case.
“We’re not hiding any secret…There is nothing that is being hidden about the case of the Morong 43,” said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s deputy spokesperson Gary Olivar.
The 43 health workers were arrested by the military while holding a seminar in Morong, Rizal. The military claimed they were members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).
Olivar was reacting to an Inquirer report that said two senior staff members of United States Rep. Howard Berman, the new chair of the House committee on foreign affairs, had sought information about the continued detention of the health workers.
Berman’s staffers were in town last week to gather information on the election-related killing of 57 people, half of them journalists, in Ampatuan, Maguindanao, in November last year. The staffers had said they would be bringing the Morong 43 case to Berman’s attention.
Interviewed over government station dZRB radio, Olivar said the government had always been “transparent” about internal matters but added that “foreign respondents” were also expected “to show the proper respect for the fact that this involves the internal affairs of the country.”
Still, he reiterated that the government had always been transparent and had in fact invited foreign observers to monitor the first automated elections on May 10.
With regard to the Morong 43, Olivar said their case was now pending in court.
“It should be the court that should resolve their case,” he said.
The Commission on Human Rights, however, is looking into allegations that the health workers had been tortured.
The Philippines is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related United Nations instruments that ban torture and the repression of fundamental freedoms.–Christine Avendaño, Philippine Daily Inquirer