Picket rallies in Manila and Los Angeles

to stop torture and to free the 43 doctors and health workers

 

February 11, 2010

 

Related sites:

 

■    Morong, Rizal - Free the 43 health workers! Feb. 8, 2010

 

■    Morong, Rizal - Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) slams abduction of doctors and health workers, Feb. 6, 2010

 

 

 

 

High court to AFP: Produce 43 ‘rebels’
By Tetch Torres, INQUIRER.net
 

The Supreme Court has ordered the military to produce before the court on Friday the 43 health workers it arrested in Rizal and detained for alleged rebellion.

 

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Picket rally at Camp Aguinaldo

February 9, 2010

Photos courtesy of Salinlahi

           
           

 

 

ILPS CONDEMNS ARREST, TORTURE AND INDIGNITIES, DEMANDS IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF 43 HEALTH WORKERS
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
08 February 2010

 

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle strongly condemns the illegal arrest of 43 health workers and medical doctors by joint forces of the military and police last 6 February 2010 in Morong, Rizal, Philippines and their torture and continuing detention.
 

Since rendering social services to the people is the least of the government’s concern, organizations such as the Council for Health and Development (CHD-Philippines) has been delivering health and medical services to the people. Part of the CHD program is to give workshops and training to members of the community so they in turn can render health services to the masses.
 

Last 6 February, the community health workers, which included doctors, nurses and midwives, were participating in a one week First Responders Training sponsored by the CHD , when around 300 heavily armed elements of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army and the Rizal Philippine National Police barged in the training venue.

Without any warrant, the armed reactionaries arrested the health workers, handcuffed and blindfolded them. They brought them to a military camp where they were held incommunicado, interrogated and subjected to various forms of torture like deprivation of sleep and food, slappings and punches, electric shock and indignities.
 

The reactionary authorities tried to justify these brutalities by falsely accusing the health workers of being members of the New People's Army. During the raid on the training venue, the military raiders followed its usual modus operandi by planting weapons and explosives and documents as false evidence.
 

The raid against the health workers is part of the regime's policy to harass and intimidate opposition to its rule and policies such as CHD which has been critical of Arroyo's policies which are detrimental to the people, especially in the health and medical field.
 

The national policy behind the extra-judicial killings, the enforced disappearances and the systematic violations of human rights is embodied in the so-called counter-insurgency scheme of the US-Arroyo regime's Operation Bantay-Laya (OBL-Operation Freedom Watch). Under OBL gross human rights violations are systematically committed. OBL gives the military, police and paramilitary the license to kill, intimidate and harass any opposition to the US-Arroyo regime.
 

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is determined to seal her infamous presidency as the worst violator of human rights, including political, social, economic and cultural rights. Under the auspices of the US global policy of terror, the Arroyo regime knows no bounds for its perpetration oft extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of oppressing the peoples. Under the US policy of “neoliberal globalization, the regime has subjected the people to the most brutal forms of exploitation on a wide scale. The ILPS demands the immediate release of the 43 health workers! It calls on its member organizations and the international community to make the strongest demand that they can muster for the release of the health workers and to condemn and hold protest actions against the gross and systematic violation of human rights in the Philippines. The US-Arroyo regime must be held accountable for its crimes against the Filipino people.###

 

Picket ralli at Camp Aguinaldo of  Salinlahi and Gabriela

PHotos by Salinlahi

           

 

 

PRESS STATEMENT
11 February 2010

PEOPLES’ LAWYERS DENOUNCE GESTAPO-LIKE RAID ON HEALTH WORKERS TRAINING
Vows to Make the Perpetrators Accountable Before Various Local and International Fora

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers denounces the illegal arrest, continued illegal detention, torture and cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment of forty-three (43) health workers abducted by the military in the morning of February 6, 2010.

This act of the military shows a blatant disregard and disrespect not only of proper legal procedures but also of basic human dignity, and is replete with human rights violations left and right.

From the very beginning, the search itself was illegal, because it proceeded from a search warrant that was invalid on its face. But the indubitable fact is that the “evidence” that was presented were routinarily planted to justify and cover-up the illegality of this blunder. The arrested health workers were also denied their basic constitutional rights which every civilized society should follow. They were purposely uninformed of the nature of their arrest, and they were simply blindfolded and led away like cattle. Also, all the health workers were denied visit by counsel, doctors, and family, in clear contravention of their rights. Up to now, despite our protestations and assertions as members of the court sworn to perform our duties, we have been denied access to our clients in utter disregard and contempt of the basic right to counsel.

We have also received the latest reports from the detained health workers that they have been subjected to acts of torture, both physical and mental, by their military abductors. It is deplorable that the military was determined to showcase their brute force and superior strength by sending eight (8) military trucks, two (2) armored personnel carriers, and at least three hundred (300) heavily-armed soldiers and policemen to arrest forty-three (43) unarmed health workers.

By the way, these health workers, according to the military, are members of the New Peoples’ Army. In fact, the military does not suspect it; the military is 101% sure that these workers have Communist ties. But they are legitimate health workers, doing legitimate health outreach projects. Among them are doctors, nurses, and medical aides, who have chosen to devote themselves to helping the local community by bringing the medical missions to them, since the government is unable or refuses to do it.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, together with the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), will defend to the fore our clients and ensure that civil, administrative, and criminal cases will be filed both in the local and international fora against each and every one accountable for this latest affront to human rights We have also closed ranks with our colleagues in the profession in the international community to expose this barbaric and unmitigated travesty that happens under this government that has no qualms and sense of decency. We further challenge those running in the coming elections to unequivocally state where they stand on this basic question of the so-called rule of law and human rights. #

Reference:

Atty. Edre U. Olalia
Acting Secretary General
0917-5113373

Atty. Julius Garcia Matibag
Spokesperson
0927-9293089
 

     
           

 

NEWS RELEASE
10 February 2010
REFERENCE: Emmi De Jesus, 2nd nominee and Vice-Chairperson, Gabriela Women’s Party (0917-3221203)

Gabriela Women’s Partylist storms DND
Women demand the release of Morong 43

Indignant women led by Gabriela Women’s Partylist stormed the Department of National Defense (DND) today to denounce the illegal arrest, torture and continued detention of the 43 health workers in Camp Capinpin , and to demand for their immediate release.

As relayed by the victims’ relatives, the 43 health workers endured tortures such as electrocution and deprivation of sleep during interrogations that last until late hours at nights. They are even being issued threats concerning their family’s safety.

“As the commander in-chief of the Armed Force of the Philippines (AFP), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is responsible for and behind the illegal arrests and detention. Arroyo is shameless, herself being a woman, in her treatment of the 26 women among the illegally detained,” said Emmi de Jesus, 2nd nominee and Vice-Chairperson of Gabriela Women’s Partylist.

“It is despicably dehumanizing and detrimental to their beings to be deprived of even a slightest degree of privacy, as they go about their personal concerns being watched at. Because they’re handcuffed, their pants had to be pulled down for them when using the toilet and their private parts washed by the attending guard,” De Jesus said.

“As days go by, we at Gabriela Women’s Partylist are even more alarmed over their condition. We fear for the female detainees’ vulnerability to sexual abuses since the AFP has a lengthy record of using rape and other forms of sexual assault to inflict torture. Thus, their safety and immediate release should be demanded by all,” added De Jesus.

“Until now, the government turns deaf ears to our calls for the immediate release of the illegally arrested health workers, who did nothing but serve the people. The baseless arrest and continued detention of the Morong 43 is a cruel manifestation of the present administration’s desperate attempt to latch on to power. And in doing so, GMA only shows that her regime couldn’t care less about human rights and democracy in this country,” said De Jesus.

According to the group, Arroyo’s regime sowed culture of impunity and culture of violence, as exemplified by the Ampatuan Massacre, and recently the illegal arrests of the 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal. The whole country is experiencing heightening repression through military harassments and extra-judicial killings. The group also mentioned the case of Ira Pamat, executive director of Center for Women’s Development in Tagbilaran, Bohol , who was put under military surveillance and was labeled subversive for facilitating voters’ education trainings in the area. There is also the concern regarding military presence in urban centers right here in the National Capital Region, who are actively campaigning against progressive party lists.

Gabriela Women’s Partylist strongly supports the call of senatorial bets Rep. Liza Maza and Rep. Satur Ocampo for the immediate suspension of all soldiers and police men who conducted the raid while the process and its conduct is to be investigated.

The two representatives also push for the filing of criminal cases against every one responsible for this illegal mass-arrest. Gabriela Women’s Partylist vows to support and to fight alongside the two lawmakers in defeating the evil designs of the regime against the progressives, and until the culprits are convicted. ###

Public Information Department
GABRIELA National Office
(+632) 3712302

 

     
           

 

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
2/F Doña Anita Bldg, 284 E. Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City
Telefax: (02) 725 4760 Email: headphil@gmail. com
Media Release

11 February 2010

“Stop the Torture! Free the 43 Now!”

The torture and interrogation of the 43 detained doctors and health workers by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) continued even after the visit of Commission on Human Rights chair, Leila de Lima, last Monday.

According to reports gathered by Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), the daily physical and mental torture had intensified, especially on male detainees.

“Aside from sleep deprivation, there is daily tactical interrogation in the wee hours of the morning, which can be heard by the other detainees,” said Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, Secretary-General of HEAD.

One male community health worker could barely walk and had bruises and a swollen right arm when his relative saw him yesterday. Another male detainee had a swollen right ear and could barely hear his visiting mother.

The female detainees were not much better. One community health worker was about to show her mother the bruises on her chest but was immediately removed by the custodian, abruptly ending the visit.

“This is unacceptable! These abuses must stop immediately!” decried Dr. Rivera. “This is even more reason to demand for their immediate release and hospitalization, if necessary.”

“There is no basis for the continued detention of these people. The layers and layers of lies being peddled by the AFP against them are now unraveling!”

HEAD notes that after being caught flagrantly violating basic rules of due process and human rights, the AFP leadership is now making inconsistent excuses and pronouncements, including harking on national security.

“The military cannot explain why they had to lie regarding the conduct of their raid in the first place, why their so-called ‘AI intelligence information’ and ‘star witness’ came as an afterthought, and why they continue to deny the full rights of those they are detaining illegally.”

HEAD is concerned that the military may eventually come up with trumped-up charges, more fabricated evidences, and forced confessions in order to justify their continued illegal detention of these health workers.

“This is the kind of democracy under Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, where the perversion of the criminal justice system is part and parcel of political exigency. This is Oplan Bantay Laya, where state security forces like the AFP are given a blanket authority to be the judge, jury, and executioner of the Filipino people,” concluded Dr. Rivera.

“This must stop now. We must begin by protecting the innocents. Free the 43!” ####

References:
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712
Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700

 

Dwonload aupdate Fact Sheet

 

     
           

 

Pinoy Kasi
 

Raid!

By Michael Tan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:28:00 02/09/2010

Filed Under: Human Rights, Military, Judiciary (system of justice)

I KNOW SOME OF YOU ARE EXPECTING A COLUMN about yesterday’s Inquirer forum at UP with the presidential candidates. I have a lot to share about that event, but I have to postpone that article because I want to write about a very urgent issue, one which has implications for the elections.

I’m referring to the raid conducted last Saturday on a health workers’ training seminar organized by an NGO, the Council for Health and Development (CHD), resulting in the arrest of 42 of the workshop participants. That included two physicians, one nurse and one midwife. All the others were community health workers, most of whom were poor farmers or workers who have been trained as paramedics and health educators. The 42 were brought to Camp Panopio in Tanay, Rizal.

The media reports have mostly featured the military’s claims that the workshop participants were rebels and they were being trained to make bombs. There has been little from the detainees themselves because the mass media have been denied access to the prisoners.

My column today mainly uses information from Dr. Delen de la Paz, vice president of Health Action for Human Rights, and press statements from CHD.

The workshop was being held on private property, a farm/resort owned by Dr. Melecia Velmonte, a retired 71-year-old professor emeritus at the UP College of Medicine who often lets health NGOs use her place for such training activities.

Not since martial law have I heard of a military raid on this scale. Dr. Velmonte has been quoted as saying there were at least a hundred soldiers involved when they raided the farm at 6:30 a.m. Many remained in the perimeter of the farm even after the health workers had been hauled off. The military says they had a proper search warrant; CHD says they had none.

What makes the whole incident even more disturbing is that no one was allowed to visit the detainees over the weekend. A few relatives were given permission on Monday and they say that the detainees have been maltreated, with one claiming he was subjected to electric shock during interrogation. Human rights groups are helping relatives and have filed for a writ of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court, which means the military may have to produce the detainees soon.

Escalation?

Until that happens, friends and relatives, as well as many health NGOs, are understandably agitated. Are we seeing a replay of the Marcos dictatorship, where health workers serving the poor are suspected of being subversives? Or is this an escalation of Arroyo-style repression and the regime’s vow to crush the NPA before her term is up?

We tend to associate raids with the police swooping down on prostitution dens, or shabu manufacturers and distributors. But during the Marcos dictatorship, raids were also frequently directed against political dissidents. When martial law was first declared, the military conducted raids throughout the country, arresting people from all walks of life who had been vocal in criticizing Ferdinand Marcos.


 

 

 

The more prominent dissidents at least had some protection because of media coverage and access to lawyers. Soldiers were known to even apologize as they entered homes of such luminaries. Raids in urban poor communities and rural areas were much less civil, soldiers or police storming through the homes (or entire villages) and the military looking for evidence of “subversive” activity, which could be anything from books by Marx to acupuncture needles (because the NPA was known to use alternative forms of medicine). If the military could not find materials, they would often end up “planting” them.
 

Raids almost always resulted in arrests, and much anxiety on the part of families. After a few months of martial law, it was becoming clear that the military was using torture during interrogation, or worse. This was the time when “salvaging” came into use, a mutation in the meaning of the English word, from “saving” to “executing” or “killing.” Relatives considered themselves lucky if the bodies were found. Others were literally “disappeared,” never to be seen again.

The first few years of martial law were the worst, but with time, organized groups of lawyers, the religious, educators and even doctors began to fight back, pressuring the Marcos government to observe international agreements on human rights.

NGOs were particularly vulnerable to these raids and staff members were trained about their rights, and what moves to make after a raid or arrests. It was not easy defending human rights. I remember that initially to dare to even mention “human rights” was itself considered subversive. Eventually though, “human rights” would enter the language of mainstream Philippine society so that today even government officials use the term.

Elections

Raids on NGOs continued after the dictatorship fell but a democratic regime meant more safeguards. Under the Arroyo administration, the raids stepped up again, together with other human rights violations. These repressive acts became so widespread that the European Union sent in an investigating team who did confirm a pattern of political repression. A government investigation commission headed by Jose Melo (now Comelec chair) was less conclusive, but did acknowledge there were human rights abuses.

Delen de la Paz tells me that when she went around asking for help from government officials, the standard reply she got was: “But they were NPA.” Now even if these workers were NPA, which I doubt, the raids and arrests have to be governed by legal processes. Those who were arrested should have been given immediate access to relatives, as well as to legal and medical support.

In the years after the Marcos dictatorship, I have not heard of a raid on this scale, with so many arrests and with such brazen violation of the rights of detainees. This raid does not augur well for the election campaign. Many candidates will be outspoken in criticizing the government and incumbent government officials. If arbitrariness and impunity are allowed to rule, those in power can easily use the “NPA” tag on anyone who disagrees with them, and can have the military round them up in raids.

We have to pin our candidates down on their positions about human rights. So far, I have only read of statements from Bayan representatives, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and Sen. Pia Cayetano, all decrying the raid. Will our presidential candidates, all potential commanders in chief of the Armed Forces, be ready to walk their talk about defending human rights?

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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

 

     
           
     
     
           

Picket rally at the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles
February 9, 2010

Photos courtesy of BAYAN-USA

           

 

For Immediate Release:
Media Contact: Kuusela Hilo, Vice Chair, BAYAN USA – vc@bayanusa.org
February 10, 2010

Los Angeles Filipino American Community Leaders and Healthcare Workers Held Protest to Demand Immediate Release of 43 Abducted and Tortured Health Care Workers in the Philippines

Los Angeles, CA - Concerned Filipino American community leaders and human rights advocates held a mid-day protest at the Philippine Consulate to demand the immediate release of 43 health care workers in the Philippines who were abducted and tortured by the Philippine military on February 6, 2010. Despite heavy rain, over 30 community leaders from AnakBayan LA, and Habi Arts of BAYAN USA, SiGAw! Of GABRIELA USA, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, the United Methodist Church, the California Nurses Association and the Filipino Migrants Center assembled with family members of the abducted health care workers in front of the Consulate. A delegation of community leaders, including Melissa Roxas, victim of abduction and torture in the Philippines last year, and Chairperson Marie Hilao Enriquez of Karapatan met with Consul General Mary Jo Aragon to deliver open letters addressed to President Arroyo and President Barack Obama and other elected officials demanding the release of the “Morong 43.”

In her letter to Consul General Aragon, Enriquez wrote: We would like to express our concern on and bring to your attention the abduction and illegal detention of forty three (43) health workers in the Philippines who were “arrested” by a combined 300-force raiding team of the Philippine National Police (PNP) as well as military men of the 202nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (202nd IBPA) under the 2nd Infantry Division (2ID), on February 6, 2010 in Bgy. Mabangcal, Morong, Rizal. The incident, the account of which is narrated in the enclosed KARAPATAN urgent alert action documentation, as well as news reports, is a very alarming case to every Filipino, both in the country and elsewhere, especially in the light of the spate of killings and other violations happening in the Philippines, like the recent Ampatuan massacre and the runup to the May 2010 elections in the country. This is troubling, to say the least, as we are supposedly a democratic country with supposed democratic processes.

The health workers and doctors arrested 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.

Terrie Cervas, Vice Chair of GABRIELA USA and member of SiGAw stated, “We condemn the illegal arrest of the 43 community health workers by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, for denying basic rights like access to legal counsel and food. The mass arrest of the Morong 43 is part of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya, which seeks to intimidate and kill civilians that are engaged in the mass movement for genuine social change in the Philippines.” Cervas asserted, “President Arroyo and her cronies should be the ones arrested for their widespread corruption and grave human rights violations.”

Chito Quijano with the International League of Peoples’ Struggle stated, “We call on the international community to condemn this gross violation of human rights and hold Arroyo accountable for her administration’s gruesome human rights atrocities. We demand that all taxpayer dollars budgeted for US military aid supporting the Philippine military be withdrawn immediately.”

An on-going petition http://www.petitiononline.com/Free43/petition.html has been launched online and all supporters of human rights are invited to join the international effort to Free the 43.

 

           

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10 February 2010

Reference: Cris Hilo, Vice Chair, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment NYC, fire.nyc@gmail.com

Fil-Am Women in NYC Demand the Release of 43 Illegally Arrested Doctors and Healthcare Workers and Condemn the Use of Torture

Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, a grassroots organization of Filipina women in New York City, are outraged with the current detainment of 43 doctors and healthcare workers, 26 of whom are women, by the Arroyo administration and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). FiRE strongly condemns the use of torture and sexual harassment on those who have been illegally detained. Before their detainment, the health care workers were participating in a health skills training in Morong, Rizal, in order to learn how to administer basic health services to poor rural communities. Over 300 soldiers from the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) abducted them at gunpoint and proceeded to handcuff and blindfold them. The 43 healthcare workers have been brought to Camp Capinpin in Rizal. They were arrested because the AFP and PNP, acting in accordance with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Oplan Bantay Laya 2, have falsely accused them of being members of the New People's Army. Oplan Bantay Laya 2 (or Freedom Watch) is a government operative that aims to eliminate so-called "terrorist" organizations in the Philippines, but has instead been responsible for countless human rights violations.

“The abduction and torture of these 43 innocent healthcare workers is a disgrace to humanity. It unfortunately adds to the record of atrocities that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have performed on the Filipino people. It must anger numerous Filipino immigrants in America, most of whom are women who are also nurses, caregivers, and healthcare workers, just like the victims. These 43 selfless healthcare workers took care of patients in the poorest sectors of Philippine society and provided endless support to the people that the Philippine government has forever neglected. It is ridiculous that they were silenced in the most violent of terms for simply being critical of the Arroyo administration,” stated Valerie Francisco, chairwoman of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment.

“This case is too similar to what happened to Filipino-American human rights advocate and healthcare worker, Melissa Roxas. We must never allow anyone to fall victim to torture, sexual harassment, and illegal detainment,” added Francisco.

As a member organization of GABRIELA-USA, a progressive grassroots Filipino women's alliance in the United States, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment denounces the ongoing crisis of human rights violations that has been systematized by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's Oplan Bantay Laya 2. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is conducting a witch hunt that condemns activists, teachers, and human rights advocates who are critical of her regime by labeling them as terrorists and allowing the Philippine military to detain and torture them. These illegal arrests and the recent massacre by the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao are the Arroyo government's threat and scare tactics against citizens who will vote for progressive leaders in the upcoming Philippine presidential elections.

Filipinas in New York City urge all freedom-loving and pro-people citizens of the United States to stand for basic human rights and dignity in the Philippines! This is a cry for true justice and hope that the perpetrators of these crimes will be held accountable by our judicial system.

FREE THE 43 FILIPINO HEALTH WORKERS ILLEGALLY ARRESTED NOW!

STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN! STOP TORTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES!

NO TO IMPUNITY IN THE PHILIPPINES!

JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!

NO TO US MILITARY AID THAT SUPPORTS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!


--
--
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE) is a mass-based women's organization serving New York City and its surrounding areas. We connect the Filipino diaspora to the women's struggle in the Philippines. We are women of Philippine descent, including those who are migrants, immigrants and US-born. We recognize Filipino women of mixed heritage and adoptees. FiRE is a LGBTIQ-(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer/Questioning) friendly organization that is inclusive of transgender people of Philippine descent. For more information, please visit http://www.firenyc.org.

We are a proud member organization of GABRIELA-USA, the first overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, with babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, WA, and SiGAw in Los Angeles, CA.

FiRE is a member of BAYAN-USA, an alliance of progressive Filipino groups in the U.S. representing organizations of students, scholars, women, workers, and youth. To learn more about BAYAN, please visit http://bayanusa.org/

 

 

Emergency Action Alert! Release the 43 Illegally Detained Community Health Workers Now!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Philippine Consulate
3600 Wilshire Blvd (between Harvard and Kingsley)
Los Angeles, CA 90010

           

 

Hi!

I am Chie Lopez of the Network of Filipino-American Health Workers and Caregivers. I'm sending you in the attached file a statement in support of the release of the 43 health workers arrested, detained and tortured. I'm also sending you copies of testimonies of Filipino-American medical mission scholars hosted by CHD and COMMED in the Philippines.

 

Please publish this statement and testimonies in the section on the 43 health workers in Arkibongbayan. Congratulations to arkibongbayan and its positive contribution to the freedom of the press in the Philippines!

In solidarity,
Chie Lopez

 

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

 

 

STATEMENT

We concerned Filipino-American health professionals, workers and students strongly condemn the illegal arrest, search and detention, and psychological torture, inflicted on the 43 health professionals and workers in Morong, Rizal last February 6, 2010. We vehemently denounce the fabrication of lies misrepresenting the detained health workers as NPA trainees in bomb-making.

Moreover, we perceive this slander being foisted on CHD and COMMED to be an insult to the intelligence of Filipino health professionals around the world, who in one way or another have provided free health services in the communities, public hospitals and charitable institutions.

The terrorist image of the 43 health workers pictured by the military to the media is completely contrary to what we know of them. We have a long history of cooperation with the CHD and COMMED professionally and personally and we have known them to be dedicated health professionals serving the poorest communities long deprived of adequate health services. The training given by CHD and COMMED to our medical mission scholars in developing practical health service skills during medical missions have developed Filipino-American students’ compassion for the poor and inspired them to embrace health-related careers and professions. (See attached testimonies of Filipino-American medical mission scholars.)

 

 

Because of their extraordinary commitment and self-sacrifice for the public interest, the government and the military should be putting CHD and COMMED on a pedestal, instead of harassing and persecuting them. In the midst of the severe crisis in Philippine health care, the overwhelming shortfall in the public health care budget and facilities, the poverty even among health care professionals that push them to leave the country and work abroad as nurses and caregivers in droves, and the killings of barefoot doctors in the provinces, the CHD and COMMED doctors, health professionals and community health workers serve the poorest sectors undauntingly, share their knowledge and skills with ordinary folk unselfishly, and make themselves available to relief and disaster operations 24/7, fact-finding missions and counseling of the psychological abuse victims wholeheartedly.

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 torturers be prosecuted and the victims of psychological and physical torture be indemnified.

5. 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.”

6. 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

Mabuhay ang mga manggagamot ng bayan!


Chie Lopez
Network of Filipino-American Health Workers and Caregivers
California
 

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Re: International Condemnation of Philippine military and police
action against health workers in Rizal, Philippines
 

February 9, 2010
 

Ambassador Brilliantes
130 Albert Street, Suite 606
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1P 5G4

Dear Ambassador Brillantes,

We are writing to condemn the action of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police at 6:15am February 6th, 2010, when they forcibly detained medical doctors, nurses, and
community health workers (CHWs) in Rizal, Philippines during their health skills training-seminar in the house of Dr. Melecia Velmonte.

Health workers who extend their volunteer services to under-served regions are essential to the health and well-being of regular Filipinos who live in these areas. Their service and advocacy work for the community is vital when virtually no other health infrastructure exists.

We condemn the false accusations against these health workers as being “enemies of the state” for advocating for communities living in poverty and see this harassment as part of the ongoing list of human
rights violations against health workers and community-based health practitioners that serve the most impoverished regions in the Philippines.

As health professionals, researchers, students, and concerned community members, we join the call for the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Rizal Philippine National Police to
immediately and unconditionally release the abducted health care workers and stop the labeling, harassment and intimidation of progressive organizations and individuals engaged in grassroots health
work and advocating for social justice in the Philippines.

We call for the immediate release of all health workers who are illegally arrested and illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal, including but not limited to: · 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

We ask that the Philippine government ensure the safety of all victims, that they are not harmed and that their belongings are returned immediately to them. We call for an 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.

As a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, the Philippine Government is bound to observe all human rights provisions

We ask that you please address this matter to the appropriate authorities on our behalf.

Sincerely,

Martha Roberts, Registered Midwife, Vancouver, Canada
Azar Mehrabadi, PhD student, School of Population and Public Health,
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Yuly Chan, Kinesiology student, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
David Henry, Alliance for People’s Health, Vancouver, Canada
Jerry Spiegel, Associate Professor, School of Population and Public
Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
 

--
Alliance for People's Health
allianceforpeopleshealth@gmail.com
604-215-2775
672 E Broadway
Vancouver, BC
V5T 1X6

     
           

 

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. #

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE
February 10, 2010
REFERENCE: Roy Morilla, Public Information Officer (0907-418-0098)

On illegal arrests and torture of doctors and health workers
CHR should investigate defense sec, farmers group urged

The militant peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philppines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) urged Commission on Human Rights Chair Leila De Lima to investigate Dept. of National Defense Sec. Norberto Gonzales on the illegal arrests and torture of 43 doctors and health workers and file against him necessary case if probable cause of human rights abuses is established.

"Secretary Norberto Gonzales, being the architect of Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) should be investigated. We all know that OBL is composed of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and `arrest and detention' or the filing of fabricated charges against progressives and militants," Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka Co-Convenor said in a press statement.

"Gonzales also said a week before the illegal arrests, that they have `more than enough' military action and `this (final phase) will be more political than military' which simply means more political persecution to activists and progressives, " said Flores .

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka believe that the recent abuse on doctors and health workers is part of the Arroyo government's effort to thwart progressive partylists and senatoriables Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Liza Maza from gaining seats in government. The military and police are implicating Bayan Muna claiming their connection with the New People's Army (NPA).

"Sec. Gonzales is recycling old tactics such as what he has done with the progressive partylist representatives in 2006 after Arroyo's Proclamation 1017. Reps. Crispin Beltran, Rafael `Ka Paeng' Mariano, Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino , Joel Virador and Liza Maza were charged with rebellion," Flores said.

"Commissioner De Lima should start looking at the top as her representatives from the CHR-National Capital Region were not allowed by the 2nd Infantry Battalion under 202nd Infantry Brigade to visit the victims a day after their arrests. Soldiers always said that they need clearance from the `higher ups' in order to get in," Flores said.

"It is clear that the military violated the rights of the doctors and health workers, using a inappropriate search warrants, planting evidence, depriving them of their legal counsels, kept them incommunicado from families, lawyers and even the CHR, and torturing them, now they are claiming some have admitted they were NPA, who the hell are they ripping off?" said Flores.

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka join the families of the victims in calling for the immediate release of 43 doctors and health workers as the peasant sector have been targeted by OBL, where 561 peasants were victims of extra-judicial killings, 119 of them were KMP leaders and 129 were victims of enforced disappearances. Also, scores of peasant leaders and activists are in jail, even KMP Deputy Secretary-General Randall Echanis was jailed for 19 months for fabricated chares and at present agri-workers organizer Felicidad Caparal of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura is still in jail in Bubon provincial jail, Northern Samar .

"We are calling for the immediate release of the 43 doctors and health workers and justice for the abuse of their rights by the police and military. We hold the inglorious bastards DND Sec. Norberto Gonzales and his mercenaries responsible as he himself declared that government offensives would be more political than military. They should be the ones in jail not the doctors and health workers who are helping the poor," called Flores . #
 

           
           

 

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MANILA, Philippines - A health workers organization on Tuesday accused the military of torturing several doctors and health workers who were among the 43 arrested by the military in Morong, Rizal last Saturday.

 

 

www.philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines - Relatives of 43 health workers arrested in a military raid in Morong, Rizal Saturday on suspicion of being New People’s Army rebels asked the Supreme Court yesterday to order ...

 

 

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. ...

 

 

 

Press Release 09 February 2010 GMA, AFP - incurable fascists HK militant OFW groups hit arrest of health workers...

 

Sunday ,Supposedly Visit to 43 Detained Health Workers Sunday,.... and the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, spouses, kith and kin, loved ones seeking their beloved were denied their right to see the 43 health workers who were illegally arrested and detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal...

 

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. ...

 

From Bulatlat:

 

‘Morong 43′ Cry Torture; Satur Denounces ‘Grandslam Day for Impunity’

By RONALYN V. OLEA
After three days, relatives and colleagues were finally able to visit the 43 arrested health workers through the intervention of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Leila de Lima, who earlier denounced the military for refusing access to those detained.

 

Military Continues to Deny Friends, Kin Access to ‘Morong 43′

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Relatives and friends of the 43 health workers — among them doctors, nurses and midwives — who were taken by the military and police in Morong, Rizal province, on Saturday are set to file on Monday a petition for habeas corpus before the Supreme Court. This, after the military on Sunday continued to prevent them, as well as the media, from seeing those arrested in person.

 

From Pinoy Weekly:

 

 

           
           
           
     
       
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