President Benigno Aquino III is concerned over the detention for the past 15 years of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, a democracy icon like his late mother, former President Corazon C. Aquino. Last Oct. 28, while attending the Asean Summit in Hanoi, he urged Burma’s Prime Minister Thein Sein to free Suu Kyi, but predictably, the latter made no clear commitment.
But while Mr. Aquino seems to be passionate in working for the release of Suu Kyi, he does not seem to be very concerned about the detention for the past nine months by government forces of 43 health workers, the so-called “Morong 43.” Last Oct. 14 Mr. Aquino said the case of the 43 detainees would have to be decided by the court that is trying them for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
The President has ordered a review of the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the health workers. The confiscation of guns and explosives from the Morong resort where they were staying showed that the evidence had been obtained through irregular means. He said that “it is a generally accepted principle that that what the lawyers call the fruit of the poisoned tree, [or] evidence wrongly gotten cannot be used.”
The Morong 43, their families and supporters have said that they were attending a training seminar on how to provide health services to poor communities when arrested. Their families said the detained workers were subjected to “psychological torture” by the military.