Multi-sectoral group denounces AFP defiance

of Supreme Court order to bring 43 illegally arrested health workers to court

 

Manila

 

February 12, 2010

 

Video Clips

 

 

   
Grandchild of Lydia Ayo Obera Romeo Clamor, husband of Dr. Merry Mia Relative of Dr. Alex Montes
   
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HEAD denounces AFP defiance of Supreme Court writ

 

Media Release
12 February 2010

“Justice Delayed is Justice Denied!” - HEAD

As if to flaunt the continuing disregard for the rule of law, the Armed Forces of the Philippines defied the writ of habeas corpus ordered by the Supreme Court and refused to show the 43 health workers in court today.

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) scored the AFP and the Department of Justice for making a mockery of due process by coming up with poor excuses to continue with their illegal detention.

“The reason given by the military establishment that they are not prepared to show the 43 health workers they are holding illegally is totally unacceptable!” decried Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD secretary-general. “If they had the resources to arrest and haul these people to their camp, they should have the resources to address the demands of the law, which they willfully violate.”

“Given that the AFP has one of the biggest chunks of the national government budget, it would have been easy for them to get a bus or even mobilize their own vehicles, if they sincerely wanted to comply with the SC order.”

For HEAD, this is merely part of the string of lies peddled by the military from the onset.

“The AFP lied about their warrants, lied about their evidence, lied about Dr. Alex Montes being an assassin, lied about the status of the detainees, and lied about their so-called witnesses.”

HEAD also denounced the collusion between the AFP and the DOJ in delaying the release of the detainees. The health group slammed the DOJ for being a political tool in committing grave injustice instead of protecting the innocent.

“Any delay is not only unfair to the families and relatives of the detainees, but also puts the detainees themselves in further danger. Every minute of their illegal detention is a minute that they can be subjected to further torture.” added Dr. Rivera.

HEAD has already documented the extent of torture perpetrated against the detained health workers and will present the collated report shortly. The group also condemned the continuous harassment of relatives who troop to Camp Capinpin daily in order to see their detained loved ones.

“Aside from being allowed only ten minutes to visit, the relatives are constantly asked various questions by the soldiers and custodians before they are allowed to see the detained,” deplored Dr. Rivera.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. Free the 43 Health Workers Now!” ####

References:
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700

 

     
     
           
     
Angela Doloricon, wife of artist Neil Doloricon, one of the 43 health workers being held by the military in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal    
     

 

Media Release
12 February 2010

Military Witness May Have Been Tortured, Coerced - HEAD

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) today lambasted the Philippine National Police of Rizal province and officers of the 202nd Infantry Brigade and 2nd Infantry Division for continuing to fabricate evidence against the 43 illegally detained health workers.

The health group is reacting to an alleged witness who was presented by the police and military yesterday. This witness, Valentino Paulino, allegedly identified other detained health workers as members of the New People’s Army.
“The military and police continue to act maliciously as they presented Paulino, who is among the 43 detainees, even while the Commission on Human Rights, together with lawyers and doctors, was visiting all of the illegally detained health workers for the first time,” said Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, secretary-general of HEAD.

“That their so-called ‘witnesses’ is saying the same lame excuses that the military has been harking raises a very strong suspicion that this person may have been severely tortured and coerced,” added Dr. Rivera. “Prior to his presentation to the media, Mr. Paulino has not been previously seen by either his legal counsel or medical personnel to ascertain his physical and mental condition.”

The health group also confirmed and documented various kinds of torture inflicted on the detainees.

“Our members and fellow doctors who accompanied the CHR were able to document both physical and mental torture,” declared Dr. Rivera. She said that the group is still collating all of their findings and will come up with a more detailed report shortly.

In the meantime, the group is calling for more vigilance regarding the conditions of the detainees.

“The detained health workers should be closely monitored. It is not beyond the military to continue with their torture and coercion, so that they may present other so-called ‘witnesses’ to mouth their lies.” declared Dr. Rivera. ####


References:
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700
 

     
           

 

National Union of Students of the Philippines
National Office Office of the Student Regent, Vinzons Hall, UP Diliman, QC Telephone 9818500 loc. 4511 or 4512

February 12, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Reference:
Einstein Recedes, NUSP National President, 09156469177/09226762013
Vanessa Faye Bolibol, NUSP Secretary-General, 09277515365

Youths urge SC to hasten release of 43 healthworkers, punish military perpetrators.

Youths and students marched today to the Supreme Court to demand the immediate release of the 43 health workers illegally arrested by the military in Morong, Rizal. The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), Kabataan Partylist, and other national youth and student organizations also pressed the SC to penalize the military agents involved in the unlawful operation.

“Lubhang nakakagalit ang naganap na iligal at marahas na pag-aresto ng military sa Morong 43” (The illegal and violent military arrest of the Morong 43 is deeply angering), said Einstein Recedes, NUSP national president.

“Pinapakita nito kung papaano sinusupil ng militar sa ilalim ng command ni Presidente Arroyo ang mga indibidwal na nagnanais lamang na makapalingkod ng husto sa kanilang kapwa. Imbis na supporta, pagaresto at tortyur ang ginawa ng militar sa mga lingkod bayan na ito. (This only shows how the military, under the command of President Arroyo, subjugates those who only wish to serve the people well. Instead of supporting them, the military arrests and tortures these servants of the people.),” Recedes said.

The SC yesterday ordered the military to show the 43 health workers in court. This, after they have been in captivity for almost a week in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. The military only allowed their families and colleagues to visit 3 days after their arrest.

According to Vanessa Bolibol, NUSP secretary-general, “For so long, the Arroyo government has been cuddling the military to do these crimes to humanity. The military legitimizes its barbarity by tagging its targets as rebels, including these health workers who were training to help communities which lack medical assistance. The SC should penalize the military as it does any other criminal.”

Bolibol also said that the arrest of Morong 43 bodes ill signs that a “Maguindanao massacre can still happen.”

“Did not the Maguindanao massacre expose the link between the military and mass murderers? If we do not want a Morong 43 or a Maguindanao massacre to ever happen again, then President Arroyo and the military should be brought to justice. The culture of impunity should end,” Bolibol said.

 

     
           

 

PRESS RELEASE
February 12, 2010
REFERENCE: Roy Morilla, Public Information Officer (0907-418-0098)

AFP, PNP kinder to mass murderers than community doctors and health workers
"Immediately release doctors and health workers," farmers urged SC

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) believe that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) treated better Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his clan, suspects of the Maguindanao Massacre on November 23, 2009 that killed 57, where 34 are journalists.

"We are really bothered of this irony, where military and police were very sensitive about handling the Ampatuans during their arrests and detention while they are fascist dogs in treating the doctors and health workers, illegally arresting and torturing them to admit they were members of the New People's Army (NPA)," said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka Co-Convenor.

"This clearly shows the ideology of the military, they side with those who commit mass murders and torture who serve the people, particularly the patriotic doctors and health workers giving poor people, peasants free medical services, they are totally anti-people, anti-peasants, " Flores said.

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka condemn the illegal arrests and torture and said that any claims by the military, including admissions of the victims would be contestable as they were tortured heavily as reported by the families, their colleagues belonging to the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and even the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) led by Chair Leila De Lima.

The groups added that another activist was illegally arrested in Binangonan, Rizal by the PNP, charging him with vagrancy but not releasing him for more than 24 hours. Arrested was Pamalakaya (fisherfolk) organizer Ronel Arambulo, 28 years old and also the former chair of Anakpawis Partylist – Binangonan chapter. He was arrested later 10 pm, February 10 while on his way to Pamalakaya-Binangon an staffhouse by elements of PNP conducting a drug-related saturation drive. Arambulo was detained at the Binangonan Police station around 11pm without clear charges. When police learned that he is a leader of Anakpawis Partylist, they turned over his mobile phone to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) based at the said town.

"This is very alarming as military and police arrest people impetously, in full disregard of the process and respect for human rights. This clearly shows that AFP and PNP's claim that they conduct human rights education among them are total lies," said Flores .

"We suggest that the CHR led by Chair De Lima to review the practices of Rizal PNP as they have committed illegal arrests in less than a week," Flores added.

The Supreme Court First Division has ordered the AFP to surface the victims as grant to the petition to writ of habeas corpus by the families and relatives of the abducted. The high court scheduled the hearing today at 2pm in Court of Appeals in Manila .

"We urge the respectable justices of the high court to immediately order the release of the doctors and health workers as their rights are continuously violated until they are liberated from the clutches of the military. The military continues to trample upon the justice system as they did to the mandate of the CHR," Flores urged.

"We should remember that the Arroyo government has victimized peasants, workers, indigenous peoples, urban poor and other poor sectors, now they are targeting progressives from the middle class such as lawyers and doctors. This has no difference to a martial rule, we should all unite to struggle against fascism and for our democratic rights," Flores said. #

 

     
     
           
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PRESS RELEASE
February 12, 2010
REFERENCE: Roy Morilla, Public Information Officer (0907-418-0098)

Military fails to present 43 illegally arrested doctors and health workers:
Peasant group condemns military's rudeness to the Supreme Court

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) condemned the latest insult by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, this time totally defying the order of Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, to present Morong 43, the illegally arrested doctors and health workers in Morong, Rizal last February 6, belonging to the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and its allied organizations.

"This is way beyond a country claiming to be under democracy, the military defying the order of the highest court who should it be following first and foremost as it represents the constitution of the republic, this is already a practice of martial law," Antonio Flores said, KMP Spokesperson and Co-Convenor of Tanggol Magsasaka.

"Now it is clear to everyone that the AFP has a mind of its own, it follows no civilian institution but its fascist bosses, defense Sec. Norberto Gonzales and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, " Flores added.

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka believe that AFP, particulary 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army is buying time for the symptoms and signs of torture to the victims to wane out before it present them to the high court. Moreover, the peasant group also consider that the military failed to compel most of the victims to admit with their storyline and fear of blunder afront the Supreme Court.

"We should not let this one pass, as if they could do this to the Supreme Court, they could do this virtually to anybody. They could arrest any activist or anyone they want without due process and bully civilian institutions such as the judiciary. Thus, they are " Flores said.

Alongwith this, Tanggol Magsasaka has successfully worked out the release of Pamalakaya (fisherfolk) organizer and Anakpawis leader, Ronnel Arambulo, 33 years old, who was illegally arrested in Sitio Wawa, Bgy. Libis, Binangonan, Rizal. He was detained arbitrarily and eventually charged with vagrancy. Tanggol Magsasaka reported that even employees of the fiscal's office in Taytay's Regional Trial Court that he should have not been detained as vagrancy is only charged to minors or 18 years old below and its usual penalty is only detention overnight. Pamalakaya-Pilipina s is planning to file appropriate charges to the police officials who illegally arrested him.

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka vowed to heighten its protest against the illegal arrests and torture of Morong 43. They would be joining the multi-sectoral protest caravan led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) tomorrow towards Camp Capinpin , Tanay, Rizal.

"We are calling for all sectors to join the caravan and call for their immediate release, justice for the torture they experienced. This is not only their struggle, this is now everybody's concern as the military has become a mad dog with no recognition of the law or reason," Flores called. #
 

     
           
     
     
           

 

News- 12 February 2010
Reference: Rep. Satur C. Ocampo, 0917-8226184
For more information: Vince Borneo, Media Relations Officer, 0927.7968198

AFP violated RA 9745
Satur: officers and soldiers involved in Morong 43 liable for torture

Senatorial candidate Satur Ocampo (Makabayan-NP) today said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) units and personnel that abducted 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal last February 6 are liable for torture and should be immediate relieved.

"There is no defending or justifying this. The AFP officers and personnel violated Republic Act 9745, the Anti-Torture Act. Regardless of the false charges the AFP are making against the 43 health workers, to subject the civilians to various forms of psychological and physical torture is barbaric, inhumane and against the law," he said.

Ocampo is the main author of RA 9745 which was enacted on November 10, 2009.

"The AFP simply violated this law, among others. Their illegal detention, blindfolding, interrogation, threatening, and other acts against the Morong 43 are clearly defined as forms of torture in Section 4 of RA 9745. Criminal cases against the AFP officials and soldiers who participated in the abduction, illegal detention and torture of the said health workers must be immediately initiated by the Department of Justice,” Ocampo said.

He also said that the Morong 43 “should be immediately released and all charges against them dropped. The AFP must admit its error and those directly involved in the incident should face penalties as proscribed in the Anti-Torture Law and the Revised Penal Code.”

Ocampo in the meantime scored Defense Sec. Norberto Gonzales for allowing the torture of the Morong 43. "Sec. Gonzales has said under his helm, the uniformed services will become human rights protectors. This is simply not true. The AFP continues to violate human rights with impunity in the belief that it can get away with it. This latest display of the AFP's complete lack recognition for human rights is certain to once more land the institution in hot water with the international human rights community," he said.

Ocampo appealed to all civil libertarians to rally behind the Morong 43. He said that the struggle to protect and uphold human rights is precisely one of the most crucial reasons why he is running for the senate. He also called on all senatorial candidates to also speak out against the torture of the Morong 43 and press for the release of the victims.

"In the midst of the electoral campaign and debates, none of us must forget that that the Macapagal-Arroyo regime remains in power and Oplan Bantay Laya 2 is still in effect. The climate of impunity remains under Macapagal-Arroyo. Let us not be complacent just because the supposed democratic exercise of elections is just around the corner: our rights are still under attack. The illegal arrest and the torture of the Morong 43 and their continuing detention is a chilling reminder that we should not let our guard down against the Arroyo regime," Ocampo said. #
 

     
           
     
     
     
     
           

 

PRESS RELEASE – 12 February 2010
Ref: Lovella de Castro, Secretary General (0920-918-2174)

CA hearing of habeas corpus petition
Karapatan: Free the 43 health care workers now!

Human rights alliance Karapatan today joins the relatives and different groups and organizations in support of the release of the illegally arrested 43 health workers, at the hearing of the petition for the writ of habeas corpus at the Court of Appeals.

The relatives filed a petition for the writ of habeas corpus at the Supreme Court and the high court’s First Division granted it yesterday, ordering the AFP to present all of the 43 health care workers who were forcibly taken on February 6 in Morong, Rizal, before the appellate court.

“We welcome this response of the SC,” Karapatan Secretary General Lovella de Castro said. “The arrest and detention of the health workers are illegal and they should immediately be freed.”

Karapatan, however, also expressed its outrage over the AFP’s exploitation of one of the victims, Valentin Paulino, in their extensive propaganda campaign to vilify the health workers as members of the New People’s Army.

“We strongly condemn the AFP for putting Paulino under duress and forcing him to admit that he and the other victims are members of the NPA,” exclaimed de Castro. “We believe that, along with the other victims, Paulino underwent severe physical and psychological torture to coerce him to implicate himself and the other health workers.”

Yesterday, with Commission on Human Rights chairperson Leila de Lima, lawyers and doctors were able interview the victims inside Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. It was the first time, since they were forcibly taken and kept under illegal detention, that the victims were allowed to be visited by their legal counsel and doctors.

De Castro narrated that the AFP took Paulino from the Camp and presented him at a press conference in Tanay, Rizal yesterday, without the consent or knowledge of the lawyers who were present. “The AFP delayed the lawyers and doctors from meeting all of the victims so that they can ‘steal’ Paulino,” she said. “And this is further proof that the military is again circumventing the constitutional laws and judicial procedures, and they are utilizing all dirty means to implicate the victims of fabricated criminal charges.”

De Castro also added that under detention in the Camp, the victims were locked up in individual holding cells, isolated from one another. The victims said that they were tactically interrogated by the soldiers every night, and that they were threatened that they, and their loved ones, will be harmed if they don’t ‘cooperate.’

Karapatan reiterated that this case is another blow to the Arroyo administration’s dismal record on human rights.

“If the Ampatuan massacre is the case with the largest number of victims of extrajudicial killing, this case of the 43 health workers is of massive illegal arrest and illegal detention. And it will definitely put Mrs. Arroyo to further shame if these doctors, nurses and community health care workers will not be immediately released,” de Castro concluded. ###
 

     
     
           
           
     
           

 

An Open Letter to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
(On the Illegal Arrest, Detention and Torture of 43 Health Workers in Morong, Rizal, Philippines)

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines

Re: Immediate and unconditional release of the 43 illegally arrested, detained and tortured health workers in Morong, Rizal

President Arroyo,

Migrante Australia condemns the illegal arrest and detention of the 43 doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers in Morong, Rizal on 6th February 2010.

We are appalled and angered by your inaction on this matter.

How can you allow the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to arrest, detain and torture a group of health workers who are well-respected and known for their selfless service to the impoverished communities in the Philippines?

How can you not see the value of their work in communities that do not have access to health care? How can you not appreciate the help they are giving to Filipinos who would otherwise have no means to seek medical help and health services?

How can you not appreciate the services of these health workers? They are the ones who have chosen to stay back to look after the health and medical needs of the poverty-ravaged Filipino people. You know that our country needs health workers but you and your anti-people economic policies have driven hordes of them overseas. Their skills and services are much valued in countries where they work now. You are also earning millions of dollars from their remittances. Is this the way to treat the Morong 43, they who have chosen to remain in the Philippines?

It is despicable how you continue to implement Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) to victimise civilians such as the Morong 43 who serve the poor and are critical of your regime. We have not forgotten how under your OBL, the Maguinadanao massacre happened, killing innocent civilians, human rights lawyer and media people. We have not forgotten either the thousands of victims of human rights violation under your rule.

This latest work of your fascist regime proves that you will not stop at anything to preserve the last days of your dictatorship. You feel so threatened that you have to accuse the Morong 43 of everything you are afraid of – linking them with the New People’s Army and to progressive partylists and their candidates.

President Arroyo, enough is enough.

We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the Morong 43.

We call for the prosecution of those who carried out this injustice.

Contact person: Lina Cabaero, Mobile: +61407 841 010

Migrante Australia
PO Box 212, Altona North 3025, Australia
Email: migrante.aussie@optusnet.com.au
 

     
     
           

 

12 February 2010

HON. CHIEF JUSTICE REYNATO PUNO
Supreme Court

ATTY. AGNES DEVANADERA
Secretary, Department of Justice

Not Another Day of Torture!
URGENT APPEAL FOR SUPREME COURT AND DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO DISMISS
FALSE CHARGES, RELEASE 43 ILLEGALY DETAINED AND TORTURED MEDICAL
PERSONNEL

We concerned New Zealanders, join the Filipino people in appealing for
the Philippine Supreme Court and Department of Justice to dismiss the
fabricated charges and rule for immediate release of the 43 illegally
detained and tortured medical personnel in Morong, Rizal.

It appears that the case of ‘HEALTH 43’ will be the first test on the
effectivity of the Phillippines’ new anti-torture law.

We are aware that on 10th November 2009, after more than two decades
of horrific human rights abuses since the Marcos dictatorship,
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act 9745 or the
Anti-Torture Act of 2009, which criminalizes “torture and other cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.” The law defines
torture as acts constituting physical torture such as systematic
beating, food deprivation, electric shock, cigarette burning, rape,
among others. Mental and psychological torture, meanwhile, refers to
acts such as blindfolding, prolonged interrogation, maltreating a
member or members of a person's family, and denial of sleep, among
others.

We are shocked and outraged over the mental, physical and
psychological torture suffered by the 43 doctors and health workers
who have been illegally detained and forced to admit that they are
members of the New People’s Army (NPA). We hope that justice will
prevail and that they will not be further detained with fabricated
charges as suffered by many persecuted activists under the Arroyo
administration.

The case of ‘HEALTH 43’ reminds us of the case of UCCP Pastor Berlin
Guerrero in May 2007 who was held incommunicado for more than 12 hours
while tortured and forced by his captors to admit that he was a leader
of the communist movement. As Arroyo was visiting New Zealand at that
time, New Zealanders have protested over the human rights crisis in
the Philippines and criticised Arroyo’s hypocrisy in coming here to
promote interfaith dialogue while church workers critical of
government corruption have been brutally persecuted.

We urge the Supreme Court and Department of Justice to dismiss the
false charges against HEALTH 43. It would be another betrayal of
justice if they will suffer the same fate of Pastor Berlin who was
imprisoned for more than one year on fabricated murder charges until
the Court of Appeals ordered his release and dismissed the case. Until
now, Pastor Berlin and scores of ordinary civilians remain targets of
state-sponsored repression. Let it be known that we, freedom-loving
people of Aotearoa New Zealand join the victims’ families in crying
out:

FREE THE HEALTH 43 NOW.
STOP TORTURE AND ALL FORMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES.
PROSECUTE THE ABDUCTORS AND TORTURERS.

In solidarity with the victims,

Murray Horton, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA),
Christchurch, NZ
Gillian Southey, Campaigns Coordinator, Christian World Service - New Zealand
Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union
Kay Weir, Editor, Pacific Ecologist, Pacific Institute of Resource Management
Cameron Walker, Auckland Philippines Solidarity
Maire Leadbeater, Indonesia Human Rights Committee
Becky Horton, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA),
Christchurch, NZ

     
     
           
           

 

CHRP Letter to Arroyo on Morong 43
 

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacanang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines

10 February 2010

Dear Madame President,

We are gravely concerned that despite a succession of investigations and reports from the UN bodies concerned with extrajudicial killings and the use of torture; despite the horrendous massacre last November in Maguindanao, perpetrated by a private army approved by your government, the climate of impunity in the Philippines continues.

On 6 February 42 health workers and doctors involved in a training seminar in Morong, Rizal were arrested by the Rizal PNP. We are informed that these arrests were made using bogus warrants, that the arrested health workers and doctors were blindfolded and taken to a military camp, Camp Pinpin, headquarters of the 202 Infantry Brigade of the AFP.

The military has claimed that these health workers and doctors are part of the communist New People’s Army. This follows a pattern familiar to anyone who observes the current wave of human rights abuses by the security forces in the Philippines, in which people are labeled as being communist rebels before being imprisoned, tortured or even killed.

The security forces appear to be expanding their targets of professional groups, perhaps because many of these groups have been critical of corruption and abuse of power by your government. Journalists, lawyers, human rights workers and now health professionals have all been targeted.

We call for:

* the immediate release of all those who have been unlawfully detained
* their safety to be ensured by the Government
* their confiscated property to be restored to them
* an investigation by the Commission on Human Rights Group and independent human rights groups into the conduct of this police raid
* a cessation of this pattern of “red labeling” leading to abuses by the military

Yours sincerely

Rev Canon Barry Naylor

Urban Canon and Parish Priest of the Abbey and Holy Spirit Team Ministries, Leicester
President – CHRP Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines
 

     
     
           
     
     
           


Free All The 43 Health Workers Now!

We, condemn 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, 2010. 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 condemn the government for sending the message that Filipino doctors and nurses are welcome to go abroad to work, but they are unjustly targeted and arrested if they stay in the Philippines to serve the poor and the underserved. These illegally arrested and detained health workers are the first responders that have tirelessly served the communities affected by the flooding and landslides in the aftermath of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year.

We are deeply concerned for the safety of these healthcare professionals who have committed their lives to serve the underserved communities in the Philippines. We are equally concerned that it is our tax dollars that are being sent to finance the Philippine government and its' military in on-going operations that are clear violations of basic human rights. We support the following demands so that they can immediately return to their families and the communities that they serve without further violations of their human rights.

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

2. The government must 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 investigate the 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.



Artists and Friends of Neil and Angela Doloricon
Photos from Free All The 43 Health Workers Now!/Emil Yap

 

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

 

           

 

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