CHD, Karapatan, Hustisiya:

Free the 43 health workers!

 

Morong, Rizal

 

February 8, 2010

 

 

    BAYAN-USA,  GABRIELA-USA and NAFCON-US in San Francisco hold protest rally to free the Morong 43

 

■   Various news and commentaries

 

■   CHD slams abduction of health workers in Morong, Rizal  Feb 7, 2010

 

   Tula: Ang Kinang ng Apatnapu't Tatlo ni Kislap Alitaptap

 

   Statement of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines on the illegal arrest of Dr. Alex Montes

 

   Dr. Bobby de la Paz Doktor ng Bayan, killed in Samar, 1982

 

     

 

 
TV2 news

Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, Secretary-General, Council for Health and Development (CHD), in a protest rally at Camp Capinpin, Rizal

       

 

These are Doc Merry, Doc Alex and Teresa.
They tirelessly share their skills, talent and services to the People especially to those who are in far-flung areas who do are not reached by the health services of the government.
Instead of giving them tribute for serving the people, they are now illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal and are tagged as NPAs along with 41 others.
Let us all call for the END of STATE TERRORISM!

 

/p

/p
▼  Photos courtesy of Terence Krishan Valdez Lopez   ▼
           

 

PRESS RELEASE – 09 February 2010

Ref:      Lovella de Castro, Secretary General (0921-918-2174)

Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General (0929-862-1076)

         

Relatives of 43 health workers file petition before SC, demand their immediate release

 

Human rights alliance Karapatan joins the relatives of the 43 abducted and illegally detained health workers in their filing for the petition of the writ of habeas corpus at the Supreme Court today.

 

The relatives were led by Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor, whose wife Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor is one of the doctors forcibly taken by the joint military and police forces last Saturday, February 6.

 

The health workers were held incommunicado for almost three days in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal, and were denied their right to see their relatives and lawyers. It was only yesterday afternoon when some of the relatives, along with Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Leila de Lima, were allowed inside the camp to talk to the victims.

 

The petition prayed that all of the 43 health workers be presented before the Court and be immediately released.

 

Karapatan vowed to continue to support the relatives in their fight to free their illegally detained loved ones. “We will continue to demand for the release of these doctors, nurses and health workers,” Secretary General Lovella de Castro said. “We are counting the days that this regime is keeping the victims in detention. The longer that they are incarcerated, more people here and abroad will hold protests against the Arroyo regime and demand that they be freed.”

 

De Castro also warned Mrs. Gloria Arroyo that she and her military henchmen will further be put into shame before the international human rights community for this latest brazen and terrorist attack against the Filipino people. 

 

“We have already called the attention of the international community,” de Castro said, “and we have already received letters of condemnation over the incident and support for the victims, from the countries of United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Canada and Australia, and more will flood in from other countries.”

 

She also reported that Filipino-American communities in the United States have trooped to the Philippine Consulates to stage protest actions.

 

“We will not stop until Mrs. Arroyo and her cohorts are held accountable for their crimes against the people,” concluded de Castro. ###

 

Download petition for habeas corpus

 

 

“AFP Tortured Detained Doctors and Health Workers” - HEAD
 

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) strongly condemned the torture perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines on 43 doctors and health workers illegally arrested and detained since Saturday.

“Based on accounts by the detainees, the AFP has subjected them to various forms of torture and sexual harassment,” said Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General. She was among those who accompanied Commission on Human Rights Chair, Atty. Leila de Lima, who visited the detainees yesterday.

The illegally detained health personnel were handcuffed and blindfolded for more than 36 hours after being forcibly brought to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade. They were also denied food and even bathroom privileges.

“They were not allowed to go to the bathrooms on their own, and their custodians were the ones who removed their underwear every time they had to urinate,” added Dr. Rivera. “A female health worker complained that a female custodian was even the one who washed her genitals after she used the bathroom.”

Family members cried openly when they were finally able to see their loved ones. Yet Colonel Aurelio Baladad did not even let this pass and taunted them by calling them “paid actors who are not really relatives of the detained”.

According to accounts by the relatives, the detainees were subjected to hours of interrogation despite their demands for legal counsel. The pregnant women were not spared.

Confined in dark cells and forced to listen to sounds of gunfire, the detainees were also forced to admit that they were members of the New People’s Army. They were not allowed to speak to each other and every night, they were slapped several times.

“One of the detained men already had sore arms and wrists from being tied down for so long,” added Dr. Rivera. Some had their pictures taken without their consent.

Dr. Alex Montes, who is already 60 years old, was electrocuted and repeatedly hit on the chest while being questioned. The pain was so much that after several hours, he was willing to admit to anything if only to end the brutal punishment he was receiving.

“The mental and physical torture inflicted by the AFP is inhumane and criminal. That they can do this to the very people who care for our lives and well-being speaks volumes as to the kind of soldiers and officers the military establishment employs,” added Dr. Rivera.

“We live in a time when civilian authorities under its chief executive, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, provide the military and police implicit consent to conduct the worst forms of abuses on the people.”

“This is worse than the Marcos dictatorship. This is Oplan Bantay Laya, Mrs. Arroyo’s legacy of counter-insurgency aimed at civilians, especially those who serve the poor and those who are critical of her regime.”

 

           
 

 

PRESS RELEASE

February 8, 2010

Reference:

Evangeline Hernandez, Convener

Victims of the Arroyo Regime for Justice

Telefax 4342837, Mobile no. 09158562151

 

FREE 43 Medical Workers! – HUSTISYA!

 

“Even at the end of her term, Ms. Gloria Arroyo together with her military henchmen continuously strike for more human rights violations,” Ms. Evangeline Hernandez, Convener of Victims of Arroyo Regime United for Justice (HUSTISYA!), said on the illegal arrest and detention of forty-three (43) medical workers in Rizal Province.

 

On the early morning of February 6, 2010 the medical workers and doctors were forcibly taken jointly by soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command in Morong, Rizal. The health workers were undergoing health skills training to provide free medical services to Filipinos in the rural areas.

 

“These medical workers and doctors have been incommunicado for more than 48 hours,” Ms. Hernandez said. “It is only this afternoon that their relatives were given a short time to see them,” Hernandez continued.

 

Ms. Hernadez said that providing health service is already the least of the priorities of this government. “Worst, medical workers and doctors that give free services to far flung areas that government does not reach are being imprisoned,” she declared. “Instead of shame, this regime takes pride from exporting medical workers abroad while lesser doctors are left in our country and those who are left take the strike of government’s repression.”

 

The couple Elizabeth Principe and Leo Velasco, both NDFP consultants and community health workers, have also been abducted by the military two years ago. Principe was released after one and a half years of imprisonment due to false charges, while Leo Velasco remains missing. A surgeon in Tabuk, Kalinga Dr. Chandu Claver suffered gunshot wounds from military elements while his wife, Alice got killed in the incident.

 

“Mrs. Arroyo, under her counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, even at the last stage, does not only kill, disappear or detain critiques of the government, it is also slowly killing the whole Filipino nation by ruining the health care system and arresting the few medical workers we have in the country,” Hernandez said.

 

Finally, Ms. Evangeline Hernandez commits, “Other member of HUSTISYA! will support the families of the detained medical workers to fight for their freedom.”###

 

Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, CHD
     
           

Press Release
February 8, 2010

Pia condemns mass arrest of health workers
 

Statement of Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Chairperson, Senate Committee on Social Justice

"The 202nd Infantry Brigade of the armed forces should be made accountable for violating the rights of the 43 health personnel who were rounded up last Saturday while attending a training seminar in Morong, Rizal then later detained incognito at Camp Capinpin. The military's refusal to grant access to the health workers' relatives, lawyers and even the quick-reaction team of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is a clear violation of their Constitutional rights to liberty and presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. This act should not be tolerated by the Arroyo regime.
 

"I would like to remind the arresting officers that our country is not under martial law anymore. The warrant used to round up the 43 was reportedly flawed. Since when can an arrest warrant issued against a specified person be used for a mass arrest? I sympathize with the relatives of the detained doctors, nurse, midwife and health volunteers. Is it now a crime to serve remote communities where government health services are hardly available, if at all? The military has no authority to detain incognito any citizen on mere suspicion of being communist rebels or supporters. The military should immediately produce all 43 and face the CHR and the courts."

 

 

CHURCH GROUP ON MILITARY ALLEGATION THAT DR. ALEX MONTES IS A MEMBER OF THE NPA

"We condemn the claims of the Philippine Army that Dr. Alexis Montes is a member of New People's Army that plot to assasinate Gen. Palparan. Dr. Montes is active in health ministry of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. His involvement in the community health development is part of his faith and role as christian to lift and protect God's given life especially of our marginalized brothers and sisters"

 

           
           

 

MEDIA RELEASE
References:
Julie Caguiat, MD Eleanor A. Jara, MD
0909-1133038 0917-9789297
Executive Director – COMMED Executive Director - CHD

As thousands of Filipino health professionals are driven away from the country because of lack of enough opportunities, the government terrorizes the very few who chose to stay and serve their fellow citizens, Council for Health and Development revealed in a press conference held in Quezon City.

In a statement, Eleanor A. Jara, medical doctor and Executive Director of Council for Health and Development said that at 6:15 am yesterday, February 6, 2010, medical doctors, nurses, and Community Health Workers (CHWs) were frisked, blindfolded and forcibly taken by combined heavily armed elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Rizal Philippine National Police. The troop numbered to about 300, reports said.

Council for Health and Development is the National Secretariat of more than 50 community-based health programs in the entire Philippines.

"The raiding team showed a bogus search warrant and herded our doctors, nurses, and Community Health Workers conducting health skills training-seminar in the house of Dr. Melecia Velmonte," Jara said.

"CHD denies the claim of Col. Aurelio Baladad of the Philippine Army's 202nd Infantry Brigade to the media that the participants were undergoing a bomb-making training. We further condemn the AFP and PNP’s action of planting evidences such as guns and ammunitions in the training venue. In truth, the participants were holding a first responders’ health skills training-seminar aimed to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and skills of health professionals and Community Health Workers to develop their capacities in providing health care services to the poorest of the poor,” Jara added.

Dr. Julie Caguiat of the Community Medicine Foundation further explained that such brazen act was clearly a state effort to terrorize health professionals and health workers that work among the people.

Dr. Jara lamented that the abducted health professionals and CHWs are among those that serve far-flung villages where government personnel and services are lacking or are simply absent. Because of their passion and dedication to serve their fellow Filipinos, these health professionals and CHWs brave difficult work environments and meager salaries just so they could be of service where they are most needed, Jara added.

"Instead of supporting and lauding their efforts and sacrifices, what does Mrs. Arroyo's government do? Her military and police abduct these health professionals and CHWs and violate their rights. In effect, the delivery of health services in the poorest communities is derailed," Jara said.

The ratio of doctor to patient in the Philippines is pegged by the Department of Health at 1:30,000.

As of press time, the military has denied the relatives and co-workers of the victims to see or speak to them.

"The military has done it again, this condemnable incident adds up to the long list of human rights violation against health workers and community-based health practitioners.

We call on all health professional organizations and the entire Filipino people to denounce state terrorism in the strongest possible terms. We enjoin our colleagues in the health profession as well as the entire Filipino nation to stand united and demand for the release of the abducted health personnel," Jara concluded. #

 

Dr. Ma. Teresa Quinawayan
 
           

 

NDFP-Rizal condemns the illegal arrest of the 43 health workers

Arman "Ka Arms" Guerrero
Spokesperson
National Democratic Front of the Philippines–Rizal
February 7, 2010

The NDFP-Rizal strongly condemns the illegal arrest of the 43 health workers by the combined elements of AFP 2nd Infantry Division and the PNP-Rizal yesterday morning in Morong, Rizal. Their arrest is a gross violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) that specifically provides that medical and health workers are non-combatants that must not be targeted by any military action.

The arrested health workers were undergoing medical training. They are not committing any criminal acts. There is no justifiable reasons for them to be arrested They were not armed as the AFP-PNP wants the public to believe. All the firearms and explosives that the military declared they confiscated from the health workers were planted. The evidence being used by the military to justify the continued detention of the 43 health workers are fabricated. The only equipments that the military got were medical instruments.

The arrest and detention of the health workers is one of the foulest tactics of the PNP-AFP to cover-up for the combat defeats they are suffering in the hands of the armed revolutionary movements. The loses the AFP-PNP suffered in the battlefields last year and early this year creates a demoralizing effects on their troops and serves as a clear gauge that they are not winning their war against the revolutionary movement. To cover-up for this, they are arresting civilians and members of the legal progressive movements which they are misrepresenting as NPA combatants and charging them with fabricated crimes. These acts must be condemned and perpetrators must be held liable.

WE DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS!

UPHOLD THE INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW!

STOP THE ATTACKS AGAINST MEDICAL WORKERS AND NON-COMBATANTS!

           

 

News Release
08 February 2010
Reference: Rep. Luz Ilagan, House of Representatives
Contact No. : 09209213221

Arrest of 43 health workers, foul and election-related – Gabriela Women’s Party

Gabriela Women’s Party decries the arrest of 43 health workers and professionals, 26 of whom are women, attending training seminar held by Council for Health Development (CHD) as foul. It is part of a design to revive anew the state’s attempt to link progressive partylists with the armed revolutionary movement.

“It is foul, truly a characteristic of the Arroyo regime.

“We can see through clearly the malicious intent behind this arrest. CHD and the participants of the said training are known supporters of the progressive partylists’ causes and have a long, fruitful history of delivering health services to many neglected areas. By tainting their reputation, this regime hopes to dissuade the people from voting for progressive candidates and party lists,” Rep. Luz Ilagan said.

The 300 heavily armed soldiers and policemen barged into the rest house of Dr. Melecia Velmonte in Morong, Rizal, where the training was being held, Saturday, February 6, 2010. Explosives and guns along with Bayan Muna campaign materials were purportedly found as the rooms were searched without the presence of witnesses.

“This only tells us that said ‘evidence’ was deliberately planted to provide grounds for the mass-arrest. These people are health care providers to the poorest areas, and Gabriela Women’s Party laments over the fact that 26 of the arrested are women. More so, it’s the women and children who most benefited from the services they provided,” Rep. Ilagan said.

According to Ilagan CHD is among the partners of GABRIELA and GWP in their health programs for their local chapters nationwide.

Gabriela Women’s Party joins other organizations and sectors in demanding for the immediate, unconditional release of the 43 arrested health workers and professionals.

The party also expressed its indignation over the violation of the rights of the accused to their counsel of choice as they were subjected to ‘interrogation.’ It also fears that election-related violence could only escalate further if remains unchecked. #


Public Information Department
GABRIELA National Office
(+632) 3712302

 

     
           

 

PRESS RELEASE
Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

CPP condemns raid of grassroots medical training
 

February 10, 2010

The Communist Party of the Philippines today joined in the widespread condemnation of the government military forces’ raid of a grassroots medical training conference being held at a farmhouse in Morong, Rizal and the illegal arrest and torture of 43 doctor and nurse trainors and volunteer health trainees.

Lambasting the arrest as an attack against progressive medical professionals and volunteer grassroots health workers who have dedicated their knowledge and lives to providing health care to the people, the CPP demanded that the victims be immediately released and the raiders be made accountable for their brazen violation of the victims’ human rights.

The training was part of an initiative by the Council for Health and Development (CHD), a non-government organization that is dedicated to the cause of uplifting the health status of the poor, setting up of grassroots health programs and training volunteer grassroots health workers.

Last February 6, a battalion of soldiers from the Philippine Army's 202nd Infantry Brigade accompanied by the local police forcibly entered and raided the farmhouse where the training was being held.
 

The CPP cited reports that the raid was conducted with the full force of a military operation, using four 6 x 6 military trucks, two Armored Personnel Carriers and other vehicles with no plate numbers or whose plates were either covered by tape or smeared with mud.
 



"To justify the raid," said the CPP, "the raiders brought with them a fake search warrant to look for a certain 'Mario Conde' who is unknown to the household and community. They also brought with them grenades, firearms and the like which they planted at the scene to justify the fabrication of charges that the arrested health workers were training to make bombs."

The 43 health workers are currently detained at Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd IBde. According to their lawyers, colleagues and relatives, the arrested health personnel were handcuffed, blindfolded and tortured for more than 36 hours and were denied adequate food and bathroom privileges.

"The arrest, detention and torture of the 43 health workers is an outright violation of human rights," said the CPP. "It was carried out in outright contempt of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which the Philippine government signed with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 1998."

"It is utterly deplorable that this blanket arrest targeted progressive health professionals and volunteer community health workers who have been attending to the health care needs of the people, especially the impoverished who have long been suffering from the lack of health services due to the ruling regimes' criminal neglect," said the CPP.

Reference:
Marco Valbuena
Media Officer
Cellphone Numbers: 09156596802 :: 09282242061
E-mail:cppmedia@gmail.com

 

=          
==          

 

 

February 8, 2010

 

Immediately Free the Victims!

 

CPA Statement on the Illegal Arrest and Detention of Health Workers in Rizal Province

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance condemns in the strongest terms the illegal arrest, detention,

harassment and intimidation of two doctors, one government nurse, one midwife, three nongovernment

organization (NGO) staff members, and 36 community health workers (CHWs) in Morong,

Rizal province last February 6 by elements of the 202nd Infantry Battalion. The victims were participating

in the First Responders Training organized by the Community Medicine Foundation Inc. (COMMED)

and hosted by Dr. Melecia Velmonte, a respected infectious disease specialist and consultant at the

Philippine General Hospital, in her residential compound. The arrest happened around 6 AM by at

least 300 soldiers in full battle gear. The victims are known medical practitioners among their patients

and the communities they serve and have served well. These communities have in fact been long

denied of adequate health and medical services by government. The victims deserve respect and

recognition for their service and sacrifice in practicing their profession for the people. Hence, they

should not be subjected to military cowardice and State terrorism.

 

The 202nd Infantry Brigade unjustly accused the victims of being members of the underground New

People’s Army, frisked, handcuffed and interrogated them while taking pictures and videos. The male

victims were also blindfolded, and all victims’ belongings were taken. No search warrant was even

presented until later, in the name of a certain Mario Condes charged with illegal possession of

firearms. The warrant did not exactly indicate the Velmonte compound. Explosives were planted then

allegedly recovered in the compound. To date, the victims are still at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal

and not a single family member has been allowed to see them.

 

What has happened in Rizal is similar to the experience of our health workers, doctors, nurses and

dentists working with the Community Health, Education, Training and Services in the Cordillera Region

(CHESTCORE), NGO partner of CPA, in the interior indigenous communities in the region conducting

health and medical services to the Cordillera communities long neglected by government. CPA

condemns these human rights violations and calls for public support for the victims, who should instead

be commended for unselfishly extending to poor communities their profession and training in the

medical field. What government must be doing is to deliver these basic social services to depressed

communities instead of deploying the military, who in turn only cause human rights violations. If such

violations can be done to respected professionals, what more to common people? It is shameless

how the AFP can stomach to do such, when government, taxing the people dry, deliberately fails to

provide their medical and health needs. The Rizal incident is a clear demonstration of heightened

State repression to the people, including progressive partylists and candidates in the 2010 elections.

 

As a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, Comprehensive Agreement on the

Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, international conventions on human

rights and humanitarian law, we call the Arroyo government, Armed Forces of the Philippines and

Philippine National Police for the immediate and unconditional and safe release of these medical

professionals and victims, that their belongings be immediately be returned to them, and family

members and lawyers be allowed to visit them in Camp Capinpin. The perpetrators must be punished

and held accountable from the top to the lowest chain of command, including the Commander-In-

Chief Gloria Arroyo.

 

The militarization of communities has escalated with the nearing elections. We challenge the

COMELEC and government to steer clear polling precincts from military presence as early as now. The

AFP and PNP are mandated by law to be impartial and neutral in civilian political affairs such as the

elections, yet they have constantly violated this. We call on the public to be more vigilant and

assertive of their constitutional rights and human rights against terrorism and human rights violations of

the AFP and PNP, vote and support individual candidates and political parties with clear track-record

and concrete electoral agenda on the defense of our human rights. #

 

End the culture of impunity and State terrorism.

Stop Oplan Bantay Laya and all repressive policies.

 

References:

Mr. Windel B. Bolinget

Chairperson, CPA

 

Ms. Abigail B. Anongos

Secretary General, CPA

 

Dr. Alex Montes of Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) is also a known surgeon and an elder of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). He received his medical degree from the University of the East College of Medicine (Class 1976) and has since been active in community service such that he was the UCCP national coordinator for health services for twenty years (1986-2006)!”

           
 

United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Christian Youth Fellowship


Statement on the Illegal Abduction of Dr. Alexis Montes

The National Executive Committee of the UCCP-CYF through the Office of its National President condemns in the strongest possible terms the abduction, illegal arrest and detention of Dr. Alexis Montes and forty-two other health workers while they were conducting a First Responders Training in Morong Rizal on 06 February 2010.

Reports had it that Dr. Montes was illegally arrested and detained by the 202nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the Rizal Philippine National Police. The youth now has been left wondering and asking itself this question: how can a government truly serve and protect its people when its own institutions are the very ones committing gross violation of human rights? The illegal arrest and subsequent disappearance of Dr. Montes and his trainees can never be justified by just "a shoddy search warrant for a certain Mario Condes which supposedly formed basis for their raid." Initial reports recount that more than 300 military and police raided the retreat center at gunpoint. Dr. Alex was then blindfolded and was taken away in a military truck and his whereabouts are not yet confirmed up to this time.
 

Further, the allegation that Dr. Alex was involved in a bomb-making training is obviously a false fabrication. We know Dr. Alex to be an active lay leader of the UCCP and one who has devoted his years to serving the poor and the marginalized through his profession as a medical doctor. The military claim that he is involved in bomb-making is just incomprehensible to us who know him and have watched him with admiration for his passion to serve the poor.

We stand with our church and raise our voices in demanding for his immediate release. Let justice be served by holding accountable the ones truly responsible for his abduction and disappearance. Let justice be served to the hundreds who have fallen victim to the blatant human rights violations in our country.

We resound the call to resurface Dr. Alexis Montes and to put an end to all forms of human rights violations and the impunity that has taken the country with the senseless deaths and disappearances of our sisters and brothers. Resurface Dr. Montes! Let justice be served!

Reference:

Shalom Grace A. Tomas
National President
UCCP-CYF

08 February 2010

---------------------------------------

 


 

 

 

Release Dr. Alexis Montes and other detained health workers!

“Freedom is what we have—Christ has set us free! Stand, then as free people and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again.” Galatians 5:1

Dr. Alexis Montes, a lay leader in the health ministry of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, is a victim of illegal arrest, disappearance and detention. The United Church of Christ in the Philippines resolutely calls for an end to de-facto martial law tactics on the part of the Armed Forces in the Philippines and the Philippine National Police. We call for the respect of the human
rights of Dr. Alex Montes and the 42 other detained health workers, including their rights to legal counsel, access to visitors, and due process. The ludicrous allegation that Dr. Alex was involved in a
bomb-making training is deplorable; Dr Alex is a respected leader in the healing ministry of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. We stand united and call for his release!

In the early morning (6am) of February 6, 2010, Dr. Alexis (Alex) Montes was illegally arrested and detained by the 202nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the Rizal Philippine National
Police. The Community Medical Foundation, Inc. (COMMED), where Dr. Alex Montes is currently employed, co-sponsored a First Responders Training for health workers in Morong, Rizal beginning February 1, 2010; Dr. Alex was assigned in the conducting of the training. Initial reports say that more than 300 military and police raided the retreat center at gunpoint. They arrested the 43 participants before even searching the premises. They later showed a shoddy search warrant for a certain Mario Condes as supposed basis for their raid. Dr. Alex was blindfolded and taken away in a military truck and we have not been able to confirm his whereabouts. It is suspected that Dr. Alex and the others are being held Camp Capinpin, Samaploc, Tanay, Rizal, but access has been denied to lawyers, family, colleagues and pastors who have tried to visit them.

The military alleges that the training was actually on bomb making. They claim to have found C4 explosives, a pistol, a revolver, three grenades, three Claymor mines and an improvised landmine. (Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 7, 2010) However, Dr. Melecia Velmonte who owns the retreat center where the training was being conducted asserted that the military had no witness to their search operations and would have easily planted the ammunitions. Dr. Velmonte also gave
a lecture on infectious diseases at the training, but was not arrested with the other participants.

Dr. Alex Montes has been a long-time staff of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. From 1988-2003, Dr. Montes served as the Health Ministries Coordinator of the Christian Witness and Service program of the UCCP. He also served as Executive Secretary of Bishop Elmer Bolocon from 2001-2002. Dr. Alex has been instrumental in the development of UCCP hospitals, but his passion as always been providing health services to the underprivileged.

Dr. Alex Montes has helped develop the community-based health programs of many of our institutions. Immediately prior to his service with The Community Medical Foundation, Dr. Montes was developing community-based health programs of the UCCP Visayas Community Medical Center in Cebu City. He served as Assistant to the Administrator for Internal and External Programs and Projects from 2007-2009.

We appeal to your support through the following actions:


· Pray that Dr. Alexis Montes and the other 42 health workers will be surfaced and released.
· Write a letter to the following addresses and appeal for due process of the 43 detained health workers and especially for Dr. Alex Montez, respected UCCP lay leader.
 

For Reference:
Bishop Eliezer M. Pascua
General Secretary
0917-8057167

           
 

Ang Kinang ng Apatnapu’t Tatlo
Ni Kislap Alitaptap
09 Pebrero 2010

Mga mata’y binusalan,
Mga kamay ay sinakal.
Sa Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal
Na sa kanila’y pinagtaguan;
Sila’y tinakot at pinaratangan

Ng mga unipormadong suhulan.
Ang sabi ni Heneral
“Kasapi ng NPA ang mga ‘yan!”
Ang tugon ng mga pinaratangan
“Kami ay mga manggagawang-pangkalusugan.”

“Kayo’y hindi nagsasanay manggamot,
Kayo’y nagsasanay gumawa ng mga pampasabog.
Kaya nararapat lamang na pagkaitan ng tulog,
Ipagtanggol ng abugado’y, ‘di rin dapat ihandog.”
Ang mayabang na bulyaw ni Heneral Singhot.

 

“Kami’y manggagamot, sa Baya’y naglilingkod,
Kakarampot na sahod ay ‘di hadlang na sapot,
Upang sa Baya’y ihandog ang karapatang magamot,
Karapatang malaon ng inyong ipinagdadamot.”
Ang matatag na sagot ng mga manggagamot.

Sabagay wala ng bago sa mga paratang na ganito.
‘Di na nila pinag-iiba ang Langka sa Kaymito,
‘Di na nila pinag-iiba ang Pilak sa Ginto,
‘Di na nila pinag-iiba ang Sampagita sa Dapo,
At ‘di na rin nila pinag-iiba ang Armado sa ‘di-Armado.

Kaya ‘wag na rin tayong mabibigla kung sa kanilang kampo
Ay may dumapong naliligaw na pato,
At kanila itong ratratin hanggang maging abo.
‘Wag na tayong mabibigla kung ang kawawang pato
Ay ituring nilang sugo ng mga Partisano. #

 

           

 

Fascism evolves anew under Arroyo
Immediate release demanded for framed-up doctors, health workers

Kilusang Mayo Uno joins the clamor for the immediate release of the 43 health workers, including doctors, framed-up and detained for three days now by Rizal military and police.

Around 300 soldiers and police forcibly raided on Saturday morning the compound of Dr. Melecia Velmonte, where training is being conducted for volunteer doctors and health practitioners for community health work. They were accused as NPAs and guilty of illegal possession of firearms. But before any warrant of arrest was shown to them, the training participants were lined up, frisked, blindfolded, and hand-cuffed. After which, the military allegedly found C4 explosives, guns, grenades and landmines in the compound. The health workers were brought to Camp Capinpin in Laguna and held incommunicado until present.

The charges and framed up evidences against the health workers are obviously baseless, and were concocted to suppress health workers aligned with the critics of the Arroyo administration. These doctors and health workers do health service in far flung and poverty stricken communities – areas where government’s social services are hardly felt.

The frame-up and mass arrest demonstrate how Arroyo’s fascism evolves in a vain effort to crush the people’s movement for genuine social change. From extra-judicial killings, abductions, and black propaganda, Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya took on a new form two years ago with the massive cases of trumped up criminal charges filed against progressive militants, mostly from Southern Tagalog also. Last year, some militants experienced being harassed to death by military agents. Now, it seems that frame-up is the newest method of the regime to quell opposition and sow terror among the public.

The incident, an unprecedented one, also proves that no one is spared under the regime’s bloody campaign. Since 2001, the US-Arroyo regime has already victimized journalists, lawyers, and doctors – professions that supposedly enjoy safety under a democracy.

From concocting criminal charges to concocting evidences as bases for detention, the US-Arroyo regime is sending a message that it is hell-bent in its ambition to end rebellion before its term ends in a few months. We are sending, however, a clearer message: As long as oppression, injustice, and poverty is perpetrated by the ruling classes of this society, resistance and the progressive movement will only get stronger.

What the military has done to the doctors and health workers should incite the strongest condemnation and action. They have offered their knowledge and skills in sincere service to the masses. As they are detained and kept from continuing their such deeds, let us enjoin more people to take action for their immediate freedom, and for the genuine liberation of the masses they have served. #

Reference: Elmer "Bong" Labog, KMU chairperson, 0929-629-3234

     

Reynaldo Macabenta, health worker

     
  ▼  Stills from TV 2 newscast  ▼   
     

HEAD to AFP: “Stop Using Doctors, Health Workers in Witch-Hunt!”

 

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is on a witch-hunt in its desperate attempt to showcase any success of Oplan Bantay Laya!”

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) directly linked the illegal arrest and detention of 43 doctors and health workers to the Arroyo regime’s counter-insurgency campaign, which over the years has targeted civilians rather than armed groups.

“After blatantly disregarding the most fundamental tenets of due process, the AFP now has the gall to prop up false charges against those whose basic rights they have violated,” said Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General.

HEAD is reacting to reports of the AFP information office that the raid conducted last Saturday in Morong, Rizal is “the biggest arrest of communist rebels in memory”. The AFP further alleges that Dr. Alexis S. Montes is a member of a special unit of the New People’s Army formed to liquidate former AFP general, Jovito Palparan.

“The lies being peddled by the AFP cannot hide the atrocities they have committed,” declared Dr. Rivera. “The so-called ‘NPA training camp’ is a family rest house of a respected medical consultant that has been used many times for parties and training of health workers and even medical students from various schools.”

“Dr. Alex Montes of Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) is also a known surgeon and an elder of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). He received his medical degree from the University of the East College of Medicine (Class 1976) and has since been active in community service such that he was the UCCP national coordinator for health services for twenty years (1986-2006)!”

According to HEAD, the mild-mannered and soft-spoken Dr. Montes is a far cry from the communist assassin that the AFP paints him to be.

Aside from Dr. Montes, the AFP also arrested Dr. Merry Mia of the Council for Health and Development (CHD). The 34-year-old doctor finished medicine at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila in 2001 and has been a community physician of CHD since 2004. She is also the mother of two young boys, one of whom is only 11 months old.

The two doctors were actively involved during the relief operations after Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. As such, they headed the “First Responders Training for Life Support” aimed to enable communities, through health volunteers, to be able to respond in times of calamities.

“Yet instead of recognizing their contribution and sacrifice, these people are being vilified and demonized by the AFP,” added Dr. Rivera. “Military officers like Brigadier General Jorge Segovia, Colonel Aurelio Baladad, and Lieutenant Colonel Noel Detoyato are worse than criminals for the sheer number of laws they violated in conducting their illegal arrest and detention.”

“The arrogance being shown by the AFP is reflective of the utter lack of respect for basic human rights by the Arroyo regime,” concluded Dr. Rivera, “As the end of OBL II draws near, state security forces are hard-pressed to show results.”

“The only thing they have now is their crimes against the Filipino people.”

 

 
 
   
           

 

February 9, 2010
PRESS STATEMENT
 

Free the 43 Health Workers

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines expresses extreme alarm over the arrest and continued detention of forty three health workers who participated in a training conducted by a non-government organization, the Council for Health and Development. Reports say they were arrested in Morong, Rizal on February 6 in the residence of Dr. Melicia Velmonte. Since their arrest, they have been denied visits of relatives and friends. It was only through the intervention this morning of Commissioner Leila de Lima of the Commission on Human Rights that some of the relatives were able to see their loved ones. Reports said that the detainees were tortured. The
detained health workers include Dr. Alexis Montes, a member and former national health program coordinator of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Dr. Montes was a member of the NCCP’s Commission on Faith, Witness and Service at one time. A news report stated the AFP accused Dr. Montes as a member of a special unit of the New People’s Army (NPA) formed
to liquidate General Jovito Palparan.

This latest assault on human rights is a manifestation of a dysfunctional system claiming democracy yet denying basic rights to its citizens. It is a system where warlords are entitled their rights if not coddled by the powers that be while members of NGOs and people's organizations are not. It is a
system where those who cause people's pain are allowed their maximum day in court and are even set free while those who ease the people’s pain are labeled members of the NPA, leftists, communists, ad infinitum, arrested and tortured then denied any right, constitutional or otherwise.
 

Such is the intention of the anti-insurgency policy of the state through Oplan Bantay Laya II. There can be no better ingredient for more social and political dissent than the brazen affront to human dignity like, illegal arrests and detention, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The best ingredient to quell any further dissent is to resolve once and for all the festering issues of corruption, poor governance, agrarian unrest, development aggression and political degeneration that have confined the people in this republic in a state of misery and poverty.


We appeal to the authorities to release these health workers. With a dwindling budget for health, the least the government could do is to support non-government initiatives whose leaders and constituents, more often than not, represent the ideals of genuine community service and Christian
selflessness. We also reiterate our call for the government to adopt and heed the recommendations of Prof. Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, particularly to review its counter-insurgency program. Oplan Bantay Laya is an instrument for terror.
It has no place in a democratic society.

To our partners around the world, please continue to uphold us in your prayers and be unceasing in your solidarity with us.

REV. REX RB REYES, JR.
General Secretary

 

           
   
   

 

Press Statement
 

The Arroyo Administration’s list of human rights violations – crimes against the Filipino people -- gets longer by the day, noticeably in the run-up to the May 2010 elections!

We, concerned migrant Filipinos in Europe (Austria), are appalled to learn of the illegal raid/arrest and detention of 43 healthworkers at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal on February 6, 2010.

According to recent statistics, seven in ten Filipinos die without receiving medical treatment, owing to extreme poverty.

This is why even the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recognizes that „In countries where the existing health-care system falls short of meeting the needs of the people and lacks a community orientation, community- based health programmes (CBHPs) could be utilized and developed. CBHPs are critical of the traditional approaches to health work and favor models based on empowerment and long-term solutions to social, political and economic injustice.“

It is therefore incomprehensible why health workers who merely choose to practice their profession in medically-underserved communities are labeled red and considered enemies of the state.

The Arroyo Administration’s list of human rights violations – crimes against the Filipino people -- gets longer by the day, noticeably in the run-up to the May 2010 elections. As of 10 December 2009, its record of human rights violations include more than 1,118 extrajudicial killings, 204 enforced disappearances, 1,026 victims of torture and the detention of more than 200 political prisoners since 2001.

We reiterate our continued commitment to genuine democracy and our solidarity with all those securing and protecting civil and political freedoms.

We demand

1. That the health workers who are illegally arrested and illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal be immediately released, safe and unharmed.

2. That the confiscated personal belongings of the victims be returned immediately to them.

3. That an independent fact-finding and investigation team be immediately formed, to carry out immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the above case, with a view to publishing the findings and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

4. That the military stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”

5. That the Philippine Government live up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to all the major Human Rights instruments of which it is a signatory # # #

Reference:
Manuel Sarmiento
Chairperson, Pinoy in Austrian Society For Integrity, Reforms and Social Transformation (PINAS FIRST)

Phone # +43 699 122 778 35
http://migrantecampaign.ning.com

#10 Banuyo St.Brgy.Amihan, Project 3, Quezon City
Telefax: 9114910

 

Romeo Clamor, KARAPATAN Deputy Secretary General,

husband of Dr. Merry Clamor

Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor

 health and education training services coordinator

for the Council for Health and Development (CHD)

           

League of Filipino Students
Vinzons Hall, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City
09158513904

 

PRESS RELEASE
February 10, 2010

 

AFP Personnel Liable as War Criminals Under International Humanitarian Law for the Illegal Arrest of 43 Health Workers

 

The League of Filipino Students warned that the Armed Forces of the Philippines shall be liable under International Humanitarian Law for the illegal arrest and detention of 43 health workers who were engaged in a community health seminar in Morong, Rizal.

 

“The Geneva Convention had always been unequivocal in the protection of medical personnel during times of armed conflict - Medical personnel exclusively engaged in the prevention of disease shall be respected and protected in all circumstances. The community health seminar was organized precisely for the prevention of disease in far-flung communities.” This was the statement of Terry Ridon, National Chairperson of the League of Filipino Students, as the LFS trooped to the General Headquarters of the AFP in Camp Aguinaldo to press for the immediate release of the forty-three health workers.

 

Ridon also said that with the illegal search, arrest and continuing detention of the Morong 43, the AFP is in absolute violation of International Humanitarian Law because it is in no way protecting and respecting medical personnel engaged in a medical seminar as required by the Geneva Convention.

“Moreover, with the reports on torture and forced confessions being confirmed by the day, the military handlers and their chiefs may even be labeled as war criminals under International Humanitarian Law.” Ridon said.

 

 

He said that the AFP is also separately liable under international law for violating the Morong 43’s rights as civilians in the middle of an armed conflict. Civilians, including medical personnel, are protected under international humanitarian law from armed attacks and harassment even in non-international armed conflicts such as the ongoing communist insurgency.

 

“Clearly, there is no escape from liability for their atrocities against community health workers whose rights are violated as we speak. This appears to be the reward of the Arroyo regime for health workers trooping to the most underserved barangays precisely because of her failures in healthcare delivery.”

 

Ridon said that by labeling the Morong 43 as NPA rebels, the AFP is foolishly seeking to undo their own ignorant brazenness and complete disrespect for human life and dignity.

 

“The status of the Morong 43 is unquestionable. They are all part of legitimate non-government community health organizations. On the other hand, the position of the AFP is nothing but dubious conjecture, and the illegality of their acts are as clear as day.”

 

The LFS vowed to vigorously campaign for the release of the Morong 43 in the next few weeks. 

Reference:                                                                                                        

 

Terry Ridon, National Chairperson, League of Filipino Students     
09158513904, teridon18@gmail.com


-
"the development of each is the development of all."
teridon.blospot.com

 

           

 

CBCP NEWS
http://www.cbcpnews.com/?q=node/12123


Colleagues of arrested health workers to file Writ of Habeas Corpus

MANILA, February 7, 2010—The Council for Health and Development (CHD), Inc., the Community Medicine Development (COMMED) Foundation, Inc., the Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR) and the human rights’ group Karapatan, will file a petition for the Writ of Habeas Corpus before the Supreme Court tomorrow to force the members of the 202nd Infantry Brigade (IB) of the Philippine Army (PA) to surface the 43 health workers who were “arrested” in the middle of their training in Morong, Rizal.

Dr. Eleanor Jara, a general physician and currently the executive director of the CHD said that contrary to the claims of Col. Aurelio Baladad, commander of the 202nd IB-PA the abducted health and medical professionals were all volunteer of different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and not by any means, connected with the communist rebels.

Karapatan has issued the partial list of the 42 health personnel, who are now in the custody of the military in Camp Mateo Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal that includes: Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, health and education training services coordinator for CHD; Dr. Alexis Montes; Gary Liberal, R.N. a nurse for the Jose Reyes Medical Memorial Center in Manila; Teresa Quinawayan, RMW; community health workers Lydia Ubera, Reynaldo Makabenta, Delia Ocasia, Jane Balleta, Janice Javier, Franco Remoroso, Ailene Monasteryo, Pearl Irene Martinez, Elen Carandang, Dany Panero, Rayom Among and Emily Marquez.

Balleta, this reporter learned, was the granddaughter of the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran who is now working as health volunteer for an NGO while Mia-Clamor is the wife of Karapatan’s deputy secretary-general Roneo “Jigs” Clamor.

Jara disclosed that the abducted health workers were on their sixth day of their advance community health training at the farm of Dr. Melecia Velmonte, an expert on infectious disease and currently a consultant for the Philippine General Hospital.

“We belie the statement by the military that the abducted health workers were there to learn how to make bombs and firearms. That is absolutely not true! The truth is the evidence allegedly recovered from the area such as handguns, grenades, and other explosives and the Bayan Muna campaign paraphernalia were all planted,” says Jara in a press conference held in Treehouse Restaurant in Quezon City.

Too many violations

Meanwhile, Dr. Edelina de la Paz, vice president of the HAHR said that there are arresting team had committed too many violations.

“First of all, there was no clear search warrant. Though they have presented a search warrant, whose name is under Mario Condes, and it is written here, that he lives in Brgy. Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal. Who is Mario Condes? Nobody knows. Dr. Velmonte doesn’t know him, nobody knows him in the property of Dr. Velmonte, which was forcibly entered,” says de la Paz in Filipino, showing the media the photocopy of the said search warrant issued by Judge Cesar A. Mangroban of the Branch 22 of the Imus, Cavite Regional Trial Court.

De la Paz said the military asked the Velmonte farm’s caretakers to open the gate at gun point.

“Dr. Velmonte was at the gate, demanding the intruders an explanation. Nobody was talking with her. They have just forced their way in, asked the participants to go out from the place, and when they have left the property they are now carrying grenades and other explosives. There are no witnesses in the seizure of these explosives and guns, which the military claims that have been found out inside the farm,” she added.

What makes the evidence more dubious, the doctor said, is where a hand grenade was found.

“They said they found the grenade in one of the bed’s headboard. Who will put a grenade under your pillow? This is a terrible lie,” she said.

In the fact sheet provided by Karapatan it says that the military had recovered C4 explosives, a pistol loaded with seven bullets, three hand grenades—one was allegedly found under a pillow, and some improvised land mines.

However, the military did not issue a receipt of inventory of the said firearms and explosives, which is an SOP in raids.

Meanwhile, de la Paz further said, the door of the farm was destroyed because the military kicked it as well as the doors of the warehouses inside.

De la Paz also said that there is overkill as 300 military and police operatives came just to arrest the 43, who, she insists, were unarmed.

“There are about 100 soldiers, who have entered the compound, and when they got out [together with the victims]—there are 200 more in the periphery of the area. What do they think of the place? And the men were blindfolded and forced to board 6 x 6 trucks. This again, is an outright violation of human rights! You don’t blindfold people and you won’t force them board into trucks without telling them where are going!” de la Paz said.

The doctor further said: “In fact, Dr. Velmonte did not know where the 43 were taken, they are asking the captors, where are they are taking the victims, and she even shouted, “Don’t carry them away!” You don’t have warrant of arrest! Your search warrant is already flawed; you don’t have any warrant of arrest, and they you will forcibly take them away!”

De la Paz revealed that some of victims were on their pajamas, wearing towels on their heads because they have just came out of the bathroom, and most of them have not taken their breakfast when the arresting team came.

Moreover, the doctor said, they only learn the whereabouts of the victim around 12:00 noon.

“We hurriedly went there, together with the victims’ families and their lawyers but the soldiers have denied us entry. And this is again, a violation of human rights—the denial of rights to counsel, the denial of the rights for families to see them, and the denial of the rights to see a doctor. I, myself, is a doctor and I want to ensure that they are in good health, that they are not—in anyway—tortured, or free from any physical injuries, and even from mental torture,” de la Paz explained.

De la Paz further told the media that they were outside Camp Capinpin until 7:00 PM but fail to see the victims. Even the ABS-CBN News team, who is also there, was prohibited to see the 43.

Not an isolated case

“However, this incident is not new; every time that we are in a medical mission, the members of the military and their paid cohorts continue to harass our doctors and nurses. They will photograph us and some will stage a mock rally. Some of them pretend to participate, especially in our health trainings, but their true intention is to harass us. In fact, there are incidents that the military will erect their detachments near the houses of our Community Health Workers (CHWs) to intimidate them. Isn’t it saddening that our doctors are now becoming nurses just to go abroad and here, the members of the military are arresting this handful of medical practitioners and health workers, who have decided to dedicate themselves in servicing the poor, those people that the government failed to serve?” Jara lamented.

Moreover, Karapatan deputy secretary-general Roneo “Jigs” Clamor believes that the latest incident of arbitrary arrest, that included his wife, was a part of the hurried efforts by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to dismantle the four-decade Maoist insurgency in the country.

“Oplan Bantay Laya is still working… and the State forces is very much willing to do everything, even if it will result to gross human rights violations of those who are suspected as enemy of the state or those who are critical with this government,” he said.

Nevertheless, Jara was saddened by the fact that those who are sincerely working for the good of the people are being harassed, thus hampering their noble cause of bringing free health and medical services to the communities in far flung areas, especially to the poor. (Noel Sales Barcelona)
 

     
     
     
     
     
  ▼  Various news and commentaries▼   
     

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Tribune

Military hit for unlawful arrest of health workers
The military is under fire for refusing to grant the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) access to 43 h.. more»

pinoyweekly.org

Dumarami ang mga grupong humihiling ng kagyat na pagpapalaya sa 43health workers na kasalukuyang nakadetine sa Camp Capinpin sa Tanay, Rizal, matapos ang isang mass arrest o maramihang pag-aresto na tinataguriang“unprecedented” o wala pang katulad simula noong batas militar.

 

www.gmanews.tv

Kapuso, GMANews.TV is the official news website of GMA-7, the Philippines' no. 1 television network. It contains the latest breaking news and rss feeds from GMA News and Public Affairs, and video from GMA News programs 24 Oras and Saksi. ...

 

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ow.ly

“The arrest of doctors and health workers, most of them women health workers including midwives, violates the right of women as enshrined in the Magna Carta to be provided with maternal and child care in the communities of Rizal. ...

 

Third World Relief Fund, a Belgian development NGO, and intal, a solidarity movement with people's movements in the Philippines and other countries, condemns the brazen arrest of 43 doctors and health workers in the Philippines...

 

dateline.ph

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Leila de Lima was finally allowed to enter Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal to look into the

 

Solons, groups assail arrest of ‘health workers’

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Written by Fernan Marasigan / Reporter   

Tuesday, 09 February 2010 20:42

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

 

     

 BAYAN-USA, GABRIELA-USA and NAFCON-US hold protest rally to free Morong 43

San Francisco

Photos courtesy of NAFCON

           

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2010
Contact: Rhonda Ramiro, BAYAN-USA, secgen@bayanusa.org

BAYAN-USA Condemns Illegal Abduction and Detention of Health Workers in Rizal
Mass Arrest of Innocent Health Workers Adds to Arroyo’s Tally of Human Rights Abuses


The alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations known as BAYAN-USA strongly condemns the Philippine police and military’s illegal raid and abduction of 43 community health workers and doctors who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines on Saturday, February 6. The health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD). Their personal belongings, as well the training materials used, were all confiscated by the military.

According to reports by the media and the human rights alliance KARAPATAN, approximately 300 soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Rizal Philippine National Police (PNP) forcibly entered the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte at 6:15 AM. The training participants were then lined up, violently frisked, blindfolded, and taken to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, AFP. The health workers have been held incommunicado since then, and have been denied their right to legal counsel. A team from the Commission on Human Rights was also blocked from seeing the detainees.

“We denounce the PNP and AFP’s illegal abduction and detention of health professionals,” stated Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN-USA Chair. “It is contemptible that the government arrested these health care providers while they were undergoing training in ‘first response,’ especially in light of the government’s failure to provide this type of critical care during disasters like typhoon Ondoy.”

 

KARAPATAN reported that the AFP and PNP illegally used a search warrant naming a person who was not the owner of the home, nor specifying an exact address. Moreover, the military declared that the victims were members of the New People’s Army because of explosives allegedly found inside the compound, even though witnesses said that the military conducted the search of the compound’s premises only after all of the victims and residents were already outside the buildings. Witnesses also said that the military brought in with them plastic bags with the GMA Kapuso logo printed on it.

 

“The government is sending the message that Filipino doctors and nurses are heroes when they go abroad to work, but they are labeled rebels if they stay in the Philippines to serve the poor,” said Ellorin. “This falls right in line with President Arroyo’s bloody counter-insurgency program Operation Plan Bantay Laya 2, which has terrorized innocent people with extra-judicial killings, abductions, disappearances, torture and mass arrests.”

BAYAN-USA makes the following demands:

1. The immediate release of the health workers who are illegally arrested and illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.


2. The government to ensure the safety of the victims and that they are not harmed; their belongings be returned immediately to them.
 

3. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into raid and illegal arrest of the health workers conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal.
 

4. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
 

5. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.
###

     
     


8 February 2010
Reference: NAFCON National Office
info@nafconusa.org 718-565-8862 718-565-8856 (fax)

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns-US (NAFCON-US) Demands the Immediate Release of 43 Health Workers Illegally Arrested and Illegally Detained in a Military Raid, Rizal Province, Philippines

San Francisco—NAFCON-US, an alliance of Filipino American organizations based in 23 cities, condemns the Philippine police and military’s illegal raid and abduction of 43 health workers and doctors who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines on Saturday, February 6. The health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD). Their personal belongings, as well the training materials used, were all confiscated by the military.
The human rights alliance KARAPATAN reports approximately 300 soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Rizal Philippine National Police (PNP) forcibly entered the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte at 6:15 AM. At gunpoint, the military forced the caretaker to open the gates. Inside, the soldiers fanned out to different directions. They also kicked the main door to get into the building.

When Dr. Velmonte and her son, Bob demanded for a search warrant, they were merely brushed aside by the military. All medical practitioners and health workers, were ordered to line up at the garage, frisked, and handcuffed. The victims were also questioned and photographed by the military, while another took a video recording of the interrogation. The male victims were then blindfolded with old shirts brought in by the soldiers and secured with packaging tape.

When the participants were already handcuffed, it was only then that Police Superintendent Marion P. Balonglong showed Bob a search warrant for a certain Mario Condes of Bgy. Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal, charged with illegal possession of firearms. The search warrant dated February 5, 2010 and issued by Judge Cesar A. Mangrobang of Branch 22 of the Imus, Cavite Regional Trial Court, did not indicate the exact address of the Velmonte compound. Bob asserted that the warrant did not specify their address, and that Mario Condes, who is subject of the warrant, is not even the owner of the house, but he was ignored by the authorities.
The health workers were forced into the military trucks and were brought to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of Philippine Army. The health workers have been held incommunicado since then, and have been denied their right to legal counsel. A team from the Commission on Human Rights was also blocked from seeing the detainees.

“The PNP and AFP’s illegal abduction and detention of health professionals is reprehensible and again highlights the Arroyo regime’s disregard for human rights,” states Father Benjamin Alforque, NAFCON-US President. “We condemn the government for arresting these health care providers while they were undergoing ‘First Response Training,’ to serve the poor who are in most need of critical healthcare.”

 

 

 

“If the Philippine government was truly concerned with the welfare of the Filipino people, especially in light of the recent devastation caused by natural disasters such as Ondoy and Pepeng, it would be supporting, not arresting, health professionals who are trained in emergency response and who seek to serve communities,” adds Julia Camagong, NAFCON Vice President of Programs.

Karapatan Recommended Action endorsed by NAFCON-US:
Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

1. The immediate release of the health workers who are illegally arrested and illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.

2. The government to ensure the safety of the victims and that they are not harmed; their belongings be returned immediately to them.

3. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into raid and illegal arrest of the health workers conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal.

4. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”

5. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

You may send your communications to:
H.E.Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

           

 

News Release
February 7, 2009

BAYAN Canada condemns the illegal arrest of 43 health workers in Rizal, Philippines; calls on Canadians to demand for their immediate release

BAYAN- Canada, an alliance of Filipino progressive organizations across the country, strongly condemns the illegal arrest of 43 community health workers and professionals in the province of Rizal, Philippines. The community health workers, nurses and doctors were attending a training course as part of an initiative by the non-government organization Council for Health and Development (CHD). The CHD has been at the forefront of relief efforts during the typhoons that devastated many parts of the Philippines, deploying doctors and health volunteers in flood-stricken areas.

Initial reports say that about 300 security forces, military and police, swooped down on the home of Dr. Melicia Velmonte, a consultant for the Philippine General Hospital. Dr. Velmonte was hosting the training course that started on February 1st and was supposed to end this Sunday. Dr. Velmonte is a renowned and respected infectious disease specialist who regularly opened up her farmhouse as a venue for health training with participants coming from both the communities and the academe.

The arresting officials used bogus arrest warrants and are continuing to hold in detention the 43 health workers and professionals. Dr. Velmonte is adamant that her guests did nothing wrong and that the so called evidence (grenade, fire arms, etc...) found on her premises were planted by the military to justify the illegal arrest. While military officials are falsely charging that the arrested group were known New People’s Army (NPA) rebels, they also pointed to the Bayan Muna (a progressive party-list running in the May 2010 elections) literature found at the farmhouse. This is pure red-baiting and propaganda meant to discredit popularly supported party-list groups critical of the current regime. President Arroyo (whose term ends this year), together with her military and state agents, must be held accountable for these violations of civil and political rights. President Arroyo stands to profit from the silencing of opposition with no less than 100 days before the May presidential elections.

This affair is reminiscent of the abduction, torture and interrogation of US citizen, Melissa Roxas, early last year. Melissa and her companions were on a medical mission in the Philippines when they were abducted in May 2009. While Melissa was released after six days, she can attest to the cruel interrogation tactics that may await the detained medical team. Melissa was also accused of being a member of the NPA in an effort to discredit her while she valiantly campaigned for justice against the cruel state that victimized her and many others. While the climate of impunity reigns supreme under the Arroyo administration, the perpetrators remain untouched and the human rights violations against the people continue.

BAYAN-Canada demands the immediate and unconditional release of the 43 health workers and professionals. We ask all our Canadian allies in government positions, unions, health associations and churches to apply pressure on the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa and to raise their concerns in order to ensure that the 43 individuals are safe and their rights are upheld. We are also directing our member organizations across Canada to take necessary actions on behalf of the 43 arrested in the Philippines and to hold protests where they can against the Philippine consulates and the Embassy in Ottawa.

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Send letters of concern and your protest to:

Jose Brillantes, Philippine Ambassador to Canada
130 Albert Street, Suite 606
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Phone: 1-(613)-233-1121
Fax: 1-(613)-233-4165
E-mail: ambassador@philippineembassy.ca

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph


Partial list of illegally detained community health workers and professionals

• Dr. Merry Mia, Health Education and Training Services coordinator for Council for Health and Development (CHD)
• Dr. Alexis Montes
• Gary Liberal, Registered Nurse (Jose Reyes Medical Memorial Center)
• Teresa Quinawayan, Midwife
• Lydia Ubera, health worker
• Reynaldo Makabenta, health worker
• Delia Ocasla, health worker
• Jane Balleta, health worker
• Janice Javier, health worker
• Franco Remoroso, health worker
• Ailene Monasteryo, health worker
• Pearl Irene Martinez, health worker
• Elen Carandang, health worker
• Dany Panero, health worker
• Rayom Among, health worker
• Emily Marquez, health worker

 

     
           

 

INTERNAIONAL SOLIDARITY GROUP: the attack on the 43 health workers is an attack against the Filipino People

Third World Relief Fund, a Belgian development NGO, and intal, a solidarity movement with people's movements in the Philippines and other countries, condemns the brazen arrest of 43 doctors and health workers in the Philippines. We consider it an attack on the Council for Health and Development (CHD), our long-time partner organization in the Philippines, and on the right to health of the Philippine people.

Yesterday, Saturday February 6, we were informed that in the early morning of the same day a training seminar of CHD in the municipality of Morong, Rizal province, was raided by a group of about 300 military and police. All 43 training participants were arrested and brought to Camp Capinpin in the same province. Among them is also Dr. Merry Mia, a staff member of CHD and the wife of human rights activist Roneo Clamor.

According to the Philippine press, the military later declared that they had arrested “ranking leaders of the New People's Army”, a Philippine guerrilla group, who were attending a bomb making seminar. The military claims they have found a number of guns, landmines and hand grenades in the building.

We cannot but conclude that these accusations are ludicrous. We have met Dr. Merry Mia on different occasions in the context of our joint efforts to uplift the health status of the poor in the Philippines and know her as a soft-spoken health professional with a remarkable dedication to her work with the community based health programs. We have also attended several activities and trainings of CHD and know for a fact that weapons and bombs are never around when they conduct health trainings. Moreover, the venue of the training was the house of Dra. Melecia Velmonte, one of the country's foremost experts on infectious diseases and a professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines. She herself was present in the compound and even conducted one of the lectures on the eve of the raid.

The initial investigation by human rights organization Karapatan points to a number of irregularities in this case. The search warrant did not mention the address of Dra. Velmonte's residence, the search of the compound was conducted without any witnesses and the owners of the house were not issued a receipt of the inventory of the items that were confiscated. This raises suspicion that these items were planted by the military. Most alarmingly, as of this writing (36 hours after the raid) the arrested health workers were not allowed visits by their relatives nor legal counsels in the military camp where they are detained.

The past few years, the Philippines' human rights record has been compromised by the continuing political killings, abductions and harassments and its military's involvement in these human rights violations. This case confirms once more that the climate of fear targets those people and organizations that are standing for the rights of the poor and marginalized. An attack on health workers and organizations that are training to serve their communities is an attack on the right to health of the poor.

Therefore, we strongly denounce the illegal arrest and detention of these 43 doctors and health workers, urge the Philippine government to ensure their safety and their immediate release. The Philippine military has to stop the black propaganda against human rights defenders and health workers. As a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a party to all major Human Rights instruments, the Philippine Government is bound to ensure the rights of its citizens, including their right to health, are respected.

Wim De Ceukelaire
Brussels, February 7, 2010

           
     
     


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
8 February 2010

New Zealanders Denounce Abduction of 43 Doctors, Health Workers

Wellington Kiwi Pinoy, a group of New Zealanders supporting campaigns against human rights abuses in the Philippines , denounces in strongest terms the abduction of 43 doctors and community health workers by around 300 soldiers and police in Morong, Rizal. On 6th February, the victims were robbed of their personal belongings, blindfolded, and forcibly brought to Camp Capinpin , headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, AFP.

This shameless attack on medical personnel who were gathered in training in the house of Dr. Melecia Velmonte again exposes the wanton disregard of civil liberties by military and police forces. Dr. Velmonte, a renowned infectious disease specialist, and her colleagues deserve the greatest respect for serving the poor communities of Morong, Rizal in the face of government failure to deliver the most basic health services for the poor. Wellington Kiwi Pinoy joins the families and colleagues of the victims in demanding their freedom. We likewise support the call to end militarization in the communities of Rizal and other provinces where similar cases of military abuses have been committed against civilians.

After the brutal massacre of scores of journalists, lawyers and other civilians in Maguindanao, the Morong incident adds to the long list of large-scale human rights violations under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. It’s not surprising that the heads of the raiding team, Colonel Aurelio Baladad and Police Superintendent Balonglong, based the raid and abduction on phoney “intelligence reports” that the medical personnel were members of the New People’s Army (NPA). How many more brutal killings, torture and detention of ordinary peasants, laborers, journalists, clergy, doctors and others will be justified by the government’s counter-insurgency campaign?

It is deplorable that the Philippine government continues to enjoy millions of dollars in foreign aid from the US , Australia and even New Zealand for its corrupt military and police forces. The Morong incident is yet another compelling reason for New Zealanders to join concerned groups around the globe in supporting the Filipino people’s demands for government to use taxpayers’ money to improve access to healthcare, housing and education rather than fund escalating militarization and political persecution.

Reference:
Rod Prosser
Spokesperson - Wellington Kiwi Pinoy
communitymedia@paradise.net.nz
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