Handcuffed to soldiers, Morong 43 brought to the Court of Appeals:

Habeas corpus hearing and testimony of Dr. Alex Montes

 

Manila

 

February 15, 2010

 

 

Video

 

Bonus Tracks: Between Hope and Fear: Philippine Community Radio Broadcasting Under a Culture of Impunity

 

 

   
           
           
           
           
           
           
 

The 43 health workers, illegally arrested and detained at Camp Capinpin,

 were presented at the Court of Appeals, Feb. 15 for a habeas corpus hearing.

All photos above by Raymund Villanueva of KODAO Produyctions

Double click to enlrage

   
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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

16 February 2010

Doctor’s Testimony Debunks AFP Claims

“I am tired.”

With these words, Dr. Alexis Montes debunked the military’s accusations against the 43 illegally detained health workers and stamped these as malicious falsehoods. Despite breaking down into tears at the end of his otherwise gripping testimony, the 62-year old surgeon detailed every aspect of their arrest and detention, and revealed once and for all the true extent of the human rights violations perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“We admire Dr. Montes for his steadfastness and integrity amidst the physical and mental difficulties he was subjected to by the AFP,” declared Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General.

The grey-haired and mild-mannered Dr.Montes spoke yesterday before the Court of Appeals, which was conducting a writ of habeas corpus hearing.

“Immediately after the February 6 mass arrests, Dr. Montes was singled out and tagged by the AFP as the leader of a New People’s Army hit squad formed to eliminate then AFP general, Jovito Palparan,”added Dr. Rivera. “But to date, the AFP has yet to show any iota of proof against the man who, for 20 years, was the National Coordinator for Health Services of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).”

In contrast, the doctor was able to provide details as to their incarceration without food and bathroom privileges, and how, at one point, he was forced to inhale an aromatic substance that made him dizzy. The military then interrogated him for hours.



 

Dr. Montes also revealed how even a fiscal from the Department of Justice, a certain Atty. Romeo Sanson, defiled due process when he merely did a “roll call” of the detained health workers during the inquest, did not explain anything to them, and ignored their demands for their own legal counsel.

HEAD warned about the tactics being employed by the AFP as a clear and present danger to the Filipino people.

“It seems to be the institutional character of the AFP to conveniently resurrect the communist bogey every time they are caught flagrantly violating basic human rights.” Said Dr. Rivera, “The military establishment wants us to believe that they can just call anyone NPAs, detain them while fabricating evidences and witnesses, and then file cases against them to justify their actions.”

“The AFP is now acting as the judge, jury, and executioner. Worse, the DOJ is their willing accomplice in this grave injustice!”

“The military and police are acting as though the Philippines is back in the heydays of Martial Law. The Arroyo government, true to form as a Marcos-copycat, is using its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya not against the armed rebels but against unarmed civilians,” concluded Dr. Rivera. ####


References:

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

Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos
Vice-Chair, 0927 483 2325

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700

           
     
     
           

 

COUNCIL FOR HEALTH and DEVELOPMENT
Community Medicine Development Foundation,Inc
 

Email:
chdmancom@gmail.com,
commedf@yahoo.com

News  Release
Reference:  Dr. Eleanor A. Jara -  0917-9789297

February 12, 2010

CHD to AFP and PNP: Stop persecuting health workers

Accused of being members of the New People’s Army, some of them tagged as high ranking officials, the  43 illegally detained health workers decried the violation of their human rights after being held for days without charges.

In an interview with the media, Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor decried the government’s gesture of “thanks” for
their work in the communities – she and 42 others are blindfolded and handcuffed for more than 36 hours, interrogated, and forced to admit that they are members of the New People’s Army. Worse, they are  denied of their family’s visitation rights and right to legal counsel.

It was only yesterday, February 11, that they were seen by their legal counsels from the National Union of  People’s Lawyers and the Public Interest Law Center. Doctors also came in visit them.

In a statement, Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, Council for Health and Development Executive Director said that the  last week’s brazen attack against community based health programs (CBHP) practitioners is not new.

 

“Since its birth in 1973, CBHPs have been present in most parts of the rural communities all over the
Philippines. CBHPs are present in areas where government services lack or are simply nonexistent.
They provide primary health care and train and organize communities to set-up alternative healthcare
systems that are people-managed and self reliant,” she added.

She cited incidences where a CBHP doctor was ambushed by military elements in Cordillera. The
doctor’s wife did not survive the attack. In Cebu, a CBHP doctor is facing baseless trumped up charges  of murder and frustrated murder of an Army officer. In Negros Oriental, the Quirante sisters, also community health workers are held in jail for years now for fake and woven charges of rebellion.

“Instead of complementing and lauding the CBHP’s efforts, what does Mrs. Arroyo’s government do to  us? She lets her military and police persecute health workers that save people’s lives.

I challenge her to do something about this. We demand that our colleagues in the medical profession as  well as the other community health workers be immediately and unconditionally released!” Dr. Jara concluded.##

 

The military convoy arrived at around 1:30 pm
           

 

BAYAN

News Release
February 16, 2010

AFP now caught up in its own web of lies – Bayan

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines is now caught up so its own web of lies, so much inconsistencies from their statements are now showing.

“The AFP is trying to cover up one lie after another. They can no longer justify the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the 43 health workers. With public opposition mounting, the only justification the military can offer now is the sweeping allegation that the 43 are members of the New People’s Army,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“A week ago, they claimed that the arrested 43 were training in bomb-making. Now they are saying that the 43 are members of a health bureau, a ‘superbody’ within the NPA. Last week the AFP claimed that the 43 were training in explosives. Now they are saying the 43 are trained medics too, who at the same time were training in explosives. Such fantastic but contradictory claims expose the hollowness of the basis of the arrests,” Reyes said.

Bayan slammed 2nd Infantry Division commander Gen. Jorge Segovia, saying he has operated “an assembly line of lies and fabricated evidence.”

“Gen. Segovia wants us to believe the fantastic claim these trained doctors, nurses and health volunteers are actually capable of making bombs, aside from providing health care, or that making bombs and providing health care go hand in hand in the underground movement,” Reyes added.
 


Bayan also took exception to the assertion of Segovia that the mental anguish that the health workers suffered after they were rounded up was just “natural”.

“There was no deliberate intention on our part to inflict physical and psychological harm on them,” Segovia said.

“What in his military training qualifies Segovia to give a psychological evaluation of the detainees? What in his training qualifies Segovia to define what normal mental anguish is? Psychiatrist, Segovia is not so he should refrain from using statements on matters where he has no competence,” Reyes said.

Bayan said that the entire process of detention of the 43 pointed to a deliberate and systematic intent on the part of the captors of the 43 to extract information and confessions from the detainees.

“The blindfolds and the handcuffs, the solitary confinement, the indignities imposed on the detainees, these were all in the context of extracting information from the 43. The psychological torture was in the context of continuing interrogation. Torture is always deliberate. What happened in Camp Capinpin was deliberate and systematic,” Reyes said.

Last Saturday, volunteer psychiatrists were prevented from examining the 43 health workers detained in Camp Capinpin. No clear reason was given. ###

           
     
           
           

 

 Media Release
Reference: Dr. Eleanor A. Jara – 0917-9789297
February 13, 2010

CHD to AFP: Educational attainment not a hindrance to learn health skills

Health groups today slammed the military’s malicious statement regarding some of the health worker-trainees’ capacity to learn health skills with regard to their educational attainment. Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ 2nd Infantry Division said in an interview that the trainees’ profiles revealed that some of them reached only elementary and high school levels while only a very few were college levels and graduates. Thus, why give them health training?

“For 37 years, community-based health program practitioners have been training volunteers who would like to become Community Health Workers (CHWs) regardless of their educational attainment. We do not discriminate against a person’s educational background as long as he or she has the heart to serve other people in the villages. In fact, we have CHWs who are illiterate but are efficient and respected healers in their communities,” Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, Council for Health and Development’s Executive Director said.

In a country where 7 out of 10 Filipinos die without ever seeing a doctor and where public health services lack or are inaccessible, Dr. Jara said that it is CHD’s and COMMED’s mandate to bring health into the people’s hands. “This means, our health professionals and health workers go out of their way to reach underserved communities and organize health committees and train Community Health Workers. That way, the people themselves can prevent and cure common illnesses and practice first-aid even with the absence of government services in their communities,” Dr. Jara explained.

She added that health skills should not be an exclusive property of a few who can afford to buy it -- it should be learned by as many people as possible as long as they have the passion to use that knowledge to serve their fellowmen especially the poor and the oppressed.

Tuition fee in Metro Manila medical schools ranges from P55,000 to P85,000 per semester.

“It is a shame that the AFP discriminates the capacity of our people to learn health skills just because they only reached elementary or high school levels. The AFP should be the ones ashamed of themselves for persecuting health workers that genuinely serve the people. If the Armed Forces is questioning and suspicious as to why we train these people without high educational attainment, the answer is there is not enough health workers and health services in the country and the blame is on the government’s incapacity and skewed priorities,” Dr. Jara ended.##

     
     
     
     
     

 

A page out of Guantanamo: Army spokesman continues to justify torture – Bayan
News Release
February 14, 2010

A page out of Guantanamo
Army spokesman continues to justify torture – Bayan

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today slammed the spokesperson of the 2nd Infantry Division for “shamelessly justifying the torture and ill-treatment” of the 43 detained health workers in Camp Capinpin.

“For the men of the 2nd ID, it’s not torture but ‘reasonable restraint’. It’s not psychological torture but acceptable mental anguish for any arrested individual. These statements again expose the mindset of the military. It refuses to recognize established laws and conventions on torture. The statements of Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato seem to be taken right out of a Guantanamo torture manual,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Gunatanamo is the prison facility maintained by the US government under the Bush regime, notorious for the torture of terror suspects.

“In Guantanamo, torture was euphemistically called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. In Camp Capinpin, torture is defined as ‘reasonable restraint’ and ‘acceptable mental anguish’. What in his training qualifies Detoyato to define was is normal mental anguish for detainees? Is he a psychiatrist now?,” Reyes added.

Bayan said that the blindfolds and handcuffs on prisoners for 36 hours is already a violation of the recently signed anti-torture law which classifies it under ‘psychological torture’.

Other forms of torture which have been inflicted on the 43 detainees include being tied and forced to assume stressful bodily position (36 hours handcuffed), electric shock, prolonged interrogation, denial of sleep/rest and deliberately prohibiting the victims from communicating with their families.

 

All these are considered acts of torture under RA 9745 or the anti-torture law.

“The thing with torture is that the authorities always find ways of couching it in the most seemingly benign or neutral terms. But torture is torture, no matter what euphemisms the AFP may choose to employ,” Reyes said.

Bayan also reported that four volunteer psychiatrists who offered their services for the detainees were prevented from entering Camp Capinpin yesterday. The anti-torture law provides that detainees under interrogation or custodial investigation should be informed of their right to seek medical and psychiatric treatment.

Rep. Satur Ocampo and Rep. Liza Maza were also prevented from visiting the detainees.

The militant group also said that the AFP had really no intention of complying with the Supreme Court order to produce the 43 health workers, as their lawyer, the Office of the Solicitor General, argued before the Court of the Appeals that producing the 43 was not necessary since cases have been filed against them.

“It’s not just because of security considerations as the AFP would like us to believe. They really had no intention of complying with the order because the SolGen believes that the petition for habeas corpus has been rendered moot by the filing of information against the 43,” Reyes said.

“The Sol Gen argued in open court that they do not need to produce the 43. So it wasn’t just a logistical issue. The AFP and the Sol Gen think that they can legally justify not complying with the SC order,” Reyes added.

     

 

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
 

     
     
           
     
  :Grandchild of one of the Morong 43, Lydia Ayo Obera
     


Press Statement
15 February 2010

DEFENSE SECRETARY GONZALES SHOULD RESIGN
IF HE HAS ANY SENSE OF SHAME LEFT

By Fidel V. Agcaoili,
Chairperson, Human Rights Committee
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales is accountable for the arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other violations of the human rights of the 43 health professionals and workers in Morong, Rizal by high officers and units of the Second Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. The gross attack on the human rights of the victims carries the trade mark and paranoid style of Gonzales.

No less than his immediate predecessor Gilberto Teodoro has slapped the face of Gonzales for failing last week to direct his military subordinates to comply with the Supreme Court order to present the 43 abductees to the Court of Appeals.

Gonzales should resign if he has any sense of shame left. But instead, he remains silent on the issue of the Morong 43 which has already caught the attention of the nation and the whole world and he tries in vain to deflect attention from the issue by speculating on the composition of the central leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines and by arrogantly announcing that his reactionary government would no longer negotiate with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) negotiating panel headed by Luis Jalandoni.

I hereby inform Gonzales and the rest of the reactionary government of Gloria M. Arroyo that the NDFP negotiating panel continues to enjoy the confidence of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and all other revolutionary forces which compose the NDFP. Prof. Jose Maria Sison also continues to enjoy the confidence of the NDFP Negotiating Panel as its chief political consultant.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel has no interest in negotiating with a lameduck regime with a lifespan of less than three months, especially because this regime continues to daydream about destroying the revolutionary mass movement of the Filipino people with brute military force and cheap psywar tricks that include fake localized peace talks with its own military troops and distribution of doleouts to them. ###
 

           
     
  :Relatives of detainees trying to get into the CA compound  
     

 

From the Facebook account of Atty. theodore Te


The Company You Keep

Where did they find the mouthpiece of the 2nd Infantry Division, Noel Detoyato? In the best traditions of witch hunting and red baiting, Detoyato's broadside against the 43 detained health workers is a whopper.

Supporting his statement that these were not health workers but members of the NPA, he brings in the fact that they are represented by Romeo Capulong (UP Law 1957, Con Con Delegate 1971) and that since everyonejnows that Capulong lawyers for the communists, ergo, the 43 are communists.

Someone give this guy a medal for logic, please? Perhaps my lawyer friends from the military would care to disabuse their colleague of this simply stupid notion. Guilt by association has always been a tactic of the military, but this was, in the past, the lawyer's bane, i..e., we would be targetted because of the clients we represent. When I represented rapists who were sentenced to death, people thought that I was condoning rape; when I represented suspected coup plotters, people thought I was a supporting their cause. Detoyato's approach is novel--the lawyer's previous association is the evidence to show that his clients are also partof the company the lawyer keeps.

Romeo Capulong is a very good lawyer and it is not my brief to defend him here. I must however speak out against a member of the supposed professional military declaring that the previous associations of a lawyer will be detrimental to the clients he represents. That is a dangerous proposition coming from the military spokesman. If that is now official military and government policy, it is clearly in violation of the right tobe presumed innocent and certainly condemns, before hearing, these detainees.

Perhaps the good Chief of Staff or the Defense Secretary may care to take Detoyato aside and show him the obvious error of his ways.

(More on the military's thinking, especially in regard to the 43, that subversion is still a crime and that

they may arrest people simply on this basis).


 

:Wife and family of Dr. Alex Montes
           
     

 

:Atty. Romeo Capulong, lead counsel of the Morong 43, enters the CA with lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center

 A grateful client and former detainee holds high a birthday placard to greet him on his birthday which he was celebrating with a fine performance at the Court of Appeals

 

           

 

News- 14 February 2010
Reference: Rep. Satur C. Ocampo, 0917-8226184
For more information: Vince Borneo, Media Relations Officer, 0927.7968198

Satur hits AFP for refusing entry to doctors, legislators into Tanay camp where 43 health workers are being held & tortured

Makabayan-NP senatorial candidate Satur Ocampo today criticized AFP generals of "being heartless and defending the torturers" in the army’s division based in Tanay, Rizal.

“We joined the relatives of the 43 health workers abducted and tortured by units of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in going to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal yesterday. The camp guards led by a Major Lutera prevented doctors and legislators (myself and Rep. Liza Maza) from joining the immediate relatives of the health workers in the visit,” Ocampo said.

Ocampo exerted efforts by attempting to contact two AFP generals since the camp guards told him that they “needed clearance from the higher-ups” to allow the doctors and the two legislators into the camp.

“I texted and repeatedly called Armed Forces Chief Gen. Victor Ibrado and Army 2nd Infantry Division chief Gen. Jorge Segovia starting past 12 noon yesterday until 4:00 pm. They never replied. They ignored my calls and may be protecting the torturers in their ranks,” he said.

“This also shows the AFP’s contempt on our judicial system and civilian government officials who are identified with the opposition. The health workers’ lawyers gave me their numbers so that I could directly communicate with them. As simple courtesy, Ibrado and Segovia should have replied to my calls and text messages,” Ocampo said.

The senatorial candidate then said that “under the command responsibility doctrine, Gens. Ibrado and Segovia, along with 202nd Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Aurelio Baladad are liable for the crimes of torture and other human rights violations against the 43 health workers.”

Ocampo also said that the detained health workers “had requested for private doctors of their choice to examine them yesterday. This is another right that the AFP has denied them.” #

:Atty. Rachel Pastores with Ofelia Balleta, mother of detainee Jane
           
     
. Atty. Capulong and lawyers and Rep. Paeng Marinao :Sen. Pia Cayetano

:Dr. Leni Jara and Dr. Jojo Carrabeo

of CHD being interviewed by nedua

     
=          
           


A Doctor to the People, Hurt and Broken
Published on February 16, 2010
www.bulatlat.com

Dr. Alex Montes is a retired surgeon. But even in retirement, he found time to serve the poor through the medical missions he organized and joined and through the trainings he conducted for community health workers and volunteers. Today, he is behind bars — abused, tortured and humiliated by a regime that is terrified by his passion.

By MARYA SALAMAT
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Dr. Alex Montes, 62, is a retired surgeon but still an active medical practitioner who regularly joined medical missions and conducted trainings for health workers and volunteers.

It’s a vocation that springs not just from a lifelong passion for medicine but also from faith. “It was always in connection with his religious affiliation with the UCCP,” his niece, law student Carla Montes Rocas, 24, told Bulatlat, referring to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, one of the Protestant religious denominations in the country.

“He’s a quiet person,” said Carla. As a religious family affiliated with the UCCP, Carla said they believe that God is not only found inside the Church but also among the people.

Dr. Montes took up his primary, secondary and pre-med schooling at the Silliman University in Dumaguete City. He became a surgeon at the UERM in Manila where he based himself since. He practiced medicine at different hospitals such as Bethany Hospital and Capitol Medical Center, “all of which are clearly legitimate hospitals,” Carla said.

Dr. Alex Montes, handcuffed to a soldier, at the Court of Appeals (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao / bulatlat.com)

Although mainly practicing in private, Dr. Montes had often joined community-based health services, conducted seminars on health trainings, helped the “Doctor to the Barrios” program.

At times, Dr. Montes brought along some of his grown children to medical missions in needy communities where they treat sick residents and give out medicines. Some of his children are also doctors. Their side of the Montes family, said Carla, is composed mainly of doctors; Carla’s family is composed mostly of lawyers.

“Uncle Alex has been doing what he’s doing for years. After every medical mission, he’d go back home immediately,” Carla said.

So it came as a shock to her and her family that Dr. Montes is being accused by the military of being a communist guerrilla.

He is one of the 43 health workers arrested by the military on Feb. 6 and accused of holding a bomb-making training in Morong, Rizal. And from being a bomb expert with the New People’s Army’s, Dr. Montes and the other 42 health workers being detained at Camp Capinpin are now accused of being members ofthe NPA’s “health bureau,” a claim that many, least of all Dr. Montes’s friends and colleagues, find absurd.

Testimony

Dr. Montes was the lone witness, his statements the lone testimony that the lawyers for the 43 health workers sought to hear before the Court of Appeals yesterday, during a hearing on the habeas corpus petition they filed to compel the military to produce the 43. The armed forces initially ignored the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling ordering them to present the health workers, prompting critics to accuse it of arrogance.

“He gave a substantial testimony,” said Atty. Romeo Capulong, the lead counsel for the detainees, of Dr. Montes. “He recounted their ordeal from the time their health training was raided on the morning of Feb. 6 up to their condition in detention at present.”

During the hearing, the counsel for the military repeatedly tried to block Dr. Montes’s testimony from being heard, citing the inappropriateness of the CA as the venue for such, and another time citing their supposed fear of how the media will report his testimony. But in the end, Dr. Montes took the stand and told his story.

He spoke of their fright upon seeing the armed soldiers barging into the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte, where they were conducting the health training. He spoke of the commotion that ensued, of the failure by the raiding team to inform them why there being taken into custody.
 

Dr. Montes spoke of the handcuffs slapped on his wrists and the dreadful one-hour trip to what turned out later to be Camp Capinpin, in Tanay, Rizal, a military camp where the 2nd Infantry Divison of the army is based.

Inside the camp, Dr. Montes and the others were held in solitary confinement and they were blindfolded for at least 36 hours. He spoke of the indignity of having a soldier pull down his pants whenever he wanted to urinate.

He spoke of how he was interrogated and how the interrogators made him believe he was going to die if he did not admit being a communist guerrilla.
 

 

 

When Atty. Capulong asked him how has the ordeal affected him, the quiet man could no longer utter a single word. He returned to his seat, seemingly broken.

“We presented evidence to prove the detainees were tortured, denied counsel, held incomunicado, among other human-rights violations” perpetrated on them, Atty. Capulong told Bulatlat after the hearing. “The right to due process of the 43 health workers were violated.”


“Hard to Predict”

The hearing lasted more than two hours. Outside the Court of Appeals, supporters and relatives of the 43 health workers who were not allowed near the court held a rally while policemen wielding truncheons held them at bay. At first the media were also barred from entering the court, but they badgered the military and the guards at the gate until they were allowed in, minus their cameras.

At stake at the hearing is the freedom of the 43 health workers and a judgment over whether their arrest and detention by the military were lawful or not.

Friends and colleagues demand the release of the Morong 43. (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao / bulatlat.com)

The military wanted the court to terminate the proceedings, arguing that the writ of habeas corpus is essentially just a writ of inquiry which should have been answered already when they produced the 43 health workers or alleged NPA members. The military also reasoned that the CA is not the venue to inquire into the search warrant they had used to raid the house of Dr. Velmonte.

(The search warrant stated the house to be searched is owned by a certain Mr. Condes and it did not have the specific address of Dr. Velmonte’s property. Watch Bulatlat’s webcast interview with one of the 43’s lawyers, Atty. Julius Garcia Matibag, for more information about the search warrant used, how the search and arrest were conducted and how the raiders violated several procedures that made the search and arrest not just defective but illegal. )

On the other hand, Atty. Capulong argued that the CA has jurisdiction not only over the habeas corpus proceedings but also to ascertain whether the arrest was lawful or not. They cited previous cases where it had been decided that the court hearing the petition for writ of habeas corpus must also inquire into every aspect of detention.

In the end, the CA allowed the limited presentation of the witness — Dr. Montes — for the 43 health workers. But it will only decide on the petition for the writ of habeas corpus once the two parties — the Office of the Solicitor General, which serves as counsel for the military and the lawyers for 43 health workers — have submitted their respective “memoranda of authorities” further fleshing out their arguments. The deadline for this is on Wednesday.

“It is hard to say how the court will decide,” Atty. Capulong told Bulatlat. “We hope the 43 health workers will be set free.”

The CA’s decision, whatever it is, would set a precedent, said Atty. Matibag, one of the counsels. In an interview with Bulatlat on Tuesday, he said that the decision could settle the issue on whether a habeas corpus petition becomes moot and academic once a criminal case has been filed against the subject of the petition, in this case the 43.

If the CA decides in favor of the 43, it would be a repudiation of the manner with which the military carried out the search, arrest and detention of the health workers. And based on the various procedural lapses committed by the raiders, Atty. Matibag said he could not see why the CA would rule in favor of the military.

But if the CA does decide against the 43, Atty. Matibag said, the armed forces will be emboldened, if not justified, by the court in violating the rights of individuals. If that happens, he warned, what happened to the 43 health workers will certainly not be the last. (Bulatlat.com)

 

More on the Morong 43 from Bulatlat:

Doctors, Medical and Health Groups Refute Military on Morong 43

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
and RONALYN V. OLEA

Several medical and health associations expressed outrage today over the arrest, detention and alleged torture of 43 health workers. In a press conference at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in Manila, officials of these groups refuted the military’s claim that the 43 are communist rebels who were undergoing bomb training when they were arrested in a raid on Feb. 6.

 

Notes from Morong 43 Hearing: AFP Now Trapped in Its Own Lies

By RENATO REYES JR.
We call on our friends here and abroad to intensify the calls for the release of the 43. We hope that the CA will issue a favorable ruling so that in the near future, the 43 will regain their freedom, be reunited with their families and continue with their work.

 

The Case of the Morong 43, a Fight Against Impunity

By BENJIE OLIVEROS
An illegal arrest backed by lies, the use of torture, denial of visitation rights even from the government’s own Commission on Human Rights, the fabrication of pieces of evidence and witnesses, the refusal to honor the order of the Supreme Court — all this point to what Makabayan senatorial candidate Satur Ocampo aptly called as a “grand slam day for impunity” and a “classic throwback to the martial law era.”

 

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  :Families and supporters hold rally for the Moronga 43  
           


February 7, 2010

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Office of the President
Malacañang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila NCR 1005

Your Excellency:

On behalf of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I write to express our alarm and  dismay over the reported abduction by the Philippines military of forty-three health workers in Morong.  The group apparently includes Dr. Alex Montes who is a member of our partner church the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.

We are told that the health workers had gathered for a training retreat. The military reports that they
are being detained on suspicion of being Communist rebels and that weapons and ammunition were found.

We urge you to ensure the safety of those who are being held in this incident. We ask that full disclosure  be made of the charges on which they are being held. If the evidence for these charges is not forthcoming  and compelling, then they should be released immediately.

We further ask you to ensure that all the citizens of the Philippines are accorded the due process of
the law and the respect for their rights to which the Philippine Constitution entitles them. We are
particularly concerned for the well-being of our sisters and brothers in the Philippines as reports of violence and intimidation increase during this period leading up to the presidential election.

Yours in Christ,
 

Gradye Parsons

Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

 

Linda Valentine

Executive Director  General Assembly Mission Council

 

Bruce Reyes-Chow


Moderator

of the  218th General Assembly

cc: President Barack Obama
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Senator Jim Webb, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Ambassador Kirstie A. Kenney, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines
His Excellency Willy C. Gaa, Philippine Ambassador to the U.S.A.
The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, World Council of Churches
Dr. Prawate Khid-arn, General Secretary, Christian Conference of Asia
The Rev. Fr. Rex RB Reyes, Jr., General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Bishop Eliezer Pascua, General Secretary, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
The Rev. Geoffrey Black, President and General Minister, United Church of Christ
 

     
     
           
     
     
     

 

HON. CHIEF JUSTICE REYNATO PUN
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

-----------------------------------------
Philconcerns list serve aims to provide information to friends, allies and compatriots abroad on the human rights situation and campaigns in the Philippines . Please post relevant news, statements, papers, etc. as well as feedback or reactions to messages and postings to the list serve through philconcerns@peoplesgovernance.org.

 

     
     
     
     

The photos that follow are from the Facebook album

of Raymund Villanueva of KODAO Productions

           
     

 

Solons hit AFP for defying SC on ‘Morong 43’
Tribune

02/14/2010

Lawmakers have crossed party lines and scored the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for ignoring the Supreme Court (SC) which ordered the military to present the 43 health workers who were arrested last Feb. 6 on suspicion they were communist rebels.

At the weekly Kapihan sa Sulo, both Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who is allied with Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar, and former Sen. Franklin Drilon, who is allied with Liberal Party (LP) bet, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, agreed not only the arrest of the “Morong 43” was illegal but that the defiance of the military of the SC order to produce the 43 detained health workers, sets a dangerous precedent.

“The defiance of the AFP on the Supreme Court order has no place in our system of law,” Pimentel said. “Not because they have guns can they defy the law.”

“I join the call of the people for the AFP to heed the rule of law,” he added.

Both Drilon and Pimentel said with the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law, mere membership in the New People’s Army (NPA) is no longer a crime.

“So, even if they are indeed NPA members, that does not constitute a violation of the law. So, their arrests are illegal,” Drilon said.

While the AFP, might have committed a transgression of the law when it ignored the SC order, Drilon said people can still resort to the military ombudsman which is tasked to see to it that men in uniform do not abuse the law.

Makabayan-Nacionalista senatorial bet Liza Maza also expressed deep disappointment over the failure of the AFP to present to the Court of Appeals (CA) the health workers during the hearing of the latter’s petition for writ of habeas corpus.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. From the very beginning, all the AFP counsels did was find ways to force the CA judges to cancel the proceedings by citing ridiculous reasons as to why they weren’t able to bring the Morong 43 to the hearing. The alibi that they are having problems with some of the victims’ identities is nothing but a flimsy excuse to keep them in their custody,” Maza said.

“Their intention is crystal clear and that is to manipulate the whole legal process, even to the point of arrogantly disregarding court rules,” she noted.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, for her part, urged Malacañang to stop defending the police and military officers accused in the illegal arrest and detention of 43 health workers in Rizal province last Saturday, particularly in the light of a recent SC order granting the writ of habeas corpus petition of the Morong 43.

“Instead of defending and justifying the actions of the officers being linked to the illegal arrest and detention of the 43 health workers, Malacañang should sternly reprimand and instruct the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Division to immediately comply with the high court’s directive to present the detainees before the Court of Appeals,” Cayetano, in a statement, said.

“The refusal of the military to comply with the high court and our Constitution is a direct affront to our legal and democratic system,” she stressed.

Cayetano earlier has called for a Senate inquiry into the “abuse of discretion and authority” of the military and police who arrested the health workers.

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Leila de Lima had said the military had indeed subjected the 43 health workers to psychological torture when they were continuously blindfolded for 36 hours, handcuffed and were not allowed to sleep.

The rights chief led a CHR team to interview the 43 medical workers detained at Camp Capinpin. She said the health workers were allowed to use the bathroom with someone else to take off their underwear.

The detainees were also denied their right to seek the service of a legal counsel even if they were demanding for it during interrogation.

The military has accused the health workers as members of the communist insurgents under the NPA and planning destabilization attacks against the government.

The health workers denied the charges claiming they were in the province for a medical training seminar.

Executive secretary Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday however claimed the arrest of 43 health workers was legal and a product of thorough intelligence. Charlie V. Manalo

 

     
     
           
           

News Release
16 February 2010
Reference: Rep. Luz Ilagan, Gabriela Women's Party 1st Nominee and Chairperson
0920 – 9213221

GABRIELA fears further sexual abuse of female health workers,
Demands their immediate release

Gabriela Women's Party demands that the 43 detained health workers be immediately released, especially the women, given their continuing vulnerability to sexual abuse.

“It is always extremely difficult for women victims of abuse to speak of their ordeal. More so for those who remain within the circumstances where they are vulnerable to abuse,” declared Representative Luz Ilagan, first nominee of GWP, in reaction to the supposed denial of one female health detainee who had earlier claimed she was sexually abused by soldiers in Camp Capinpin.

The women's group maintains that the mere fact that the detainees were blindfolded and their private parts touched by soldiers meant there had been sexual abuse.

Ilagan further said that the 43 health workers, especially the women, urgently need psychological counselling. “We can only imagine the mental and emotional torment the detained female health workers go through every minute they are held captive knowing the historical and institutionalized notoriety of the AFP in abusing female political captives.”

The group will launch the campaign “Free Our Sisters, Free Ourselves, Free the Morong 43” to enjoin concerned individuals and groups both local and international to pressure the government to immediately release the illegally arrested and detained health workers. ###

           
           

 

To: ambassador@philippineembassy.ca
SENT THROUGH FAX
 

Dear Ambassador Brillantes,

We are writing on behalf of the different organizations and individuals in Canada to express an alarming concern and convey our strong condemnation of the abduction of 43 health workers by the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police on February 6 in Rizal, Philippines.

This criminal abduction, and the baseless and slanderous accusation that these health workers are ‘enemies of the state’ or involved in some kind of criminal activity, are an insult to people everywhere concerned with peace and social justice. The health training which was being conducted in Rizal is part of the ongoing work of legal and legitimate health organizations in the Philippines who work tirelessly to improve the health of poor and marginalized communities throughout the country.

We are equally concern about the increase in the number of abductions and violence as the Philippine presidential election draws near. We demand an immediate release of the 43 health workers. We call on your office to convey our concerns to the appropriate authorities in the Philippines, to uphold the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and for the perpetrators be held accountable.

 

Sincerely,

Marco Luciano (Migrante International Global Council Representative for Canada)
Illiam Burbano (Canadian Union of Public Employees International Solidarity Committee)
Erinn White (Guelph and District Labour Council, President)
Sheila Wilmot (Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1281)
Stewart Ryan (Canadian Auto Workers Local 567, President)
Jonathan Canchela (Filipino Migrant Workers’ Movement, Chairperson)
Rev. Dr. Raymond A. Cuthbert (Broadway Disciples United Church)
Mike Leitold (Lawyer and a Member of the Law Union of Ontario)
Joselito Calugay (Public Service Alliance of Canada, Communications)
Divina Natural (Gabriela-Canada)
Cynthia Palmaria (Healthcare worker, Gabriela-Canada)
Evelyn Calugay (Healthcare worker, PINAY)
Tanya Roberts-Davis (Ontario Committee For Human Rights in the Philippines)
Jomay Amora-Mercado (Damayan Manitoba, Chairperson)
Aries Mercado (Winnipeg)
Fuerza/Puwersa – Guelph
Rashin Alizadeh (Afghan-Iranian Youth Network)
Glenys Verlhulst (Victoria Philippines Solidarity Group)
Eric Jagoring (Philippine Concerns and Response)
Jean Casicadan (Independent Workers Association)
Chelliah.Premarajah ( Vice President BC Seniors Shanthy Nilayam)
Jojo Geronimo (Toronto)
Allan Paul dela Cruz (Lupao Nueva Ecija Association of Manitoba, President)
Noel M. Lapuz (Columnist, Pilipino-Express, Winnipeg, MB)
Perla Javate (Coalition of Filipino-Canadians for Stronger Families)

Organizations:
Migrante Canada
Migrante Ontario
Migrante-BC
Migrante Alberta
Migrante Youth - Toronto
PINAY (Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec)
Filipino Workers Support Group - Montreal
Filipino Migrant Workers Movement – Toronto
Pilipinong Migrante sa Barrie – Barrie, Ontario
Damayan Manitoba
BAYAN Canada
Ottawa District Labour Council International Solidarity Committee
Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Victoria Philippines Solidarity Group
Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC Montréal)
Philippine Solidarity Network – Canada
La ligue internationale de luttes des peuples (ILPS) - Canada / International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS)- Canada
Centre des Travailleuses et Travailleurs Immigrants / Immigrant Workers Centre (CTI-IWC)
Independent Workers Association (IWA)
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights – BC
Canadian Humanitarian Appeal for the Relief of Tamils (CanadianHART)

 

:Court of Appeals heaing
     
     
           
           

 

Rights lawyer blasts Army spokesman’s warped thinking

By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:31:00 02/14/2010

MANILA, Philippines -- Human rights lawyer Romeo Capulong accused the Army spokesman of “warped thinking” when the latter insinuated that the lawyer was allied with communist insurgents because he was the counsel of several left-wing personalities, including Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison.

“I think that's a clear example of what I call warped thinking, which is unfortunately a typical mindset among some, not all, military and police officers who are engaged in the so-called anti-insurgency campaign,” Capulong told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.

Capulong was reacting to a statement made by Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesperson of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division that his being a lawyer for the 43 suspected members of the New People's Army (NPA) arrested earlier this month in Morong, Rizal, was proof of their affiliation with the CPP.

“This explains why the government's anti-insurgency campaign has failed, aside from (its) flawed polity,” Capulong said.

Capulong reminded Detoyato that he has been a human rights lawyer for the past 52 years, handling not only cases about violations of civilian and political rights but also social, economic, and cultural rights.

He is also a member of the New York Bar and handles cases in Japan, Europe, and the United States.

Capulong acknowledged that the military has branded him as a communist because his clients included Sison and other personalities from the Left. However, he “reminded” the Armed Forces that he also represented in court thousands of farmers fighting for land reform.

Capulong stressed that the "Morong 43" were not communists as the military claimed even if “some of them may be readily identified with the left or some may be sympathetic to Joma.”

Capulong said Detoyato's statement appeared to be a “diversionary tactic” from the “real, core” issues surrounding the arrest of the Morong 43, some of whom were health workers.

These included the validity of the arrest warrant used to raid the resort where the detainees were purportedly holding a medical seminar. The detainees were allegedly tortured into admitting that they were NPA members.
 

           

 

GMA urged to break silence, release “Morong 43”
 

Reference person:  Rep. Rafael V. Mariano
Position: Representative
Contact information:  931-6615
Date: February 12, 2010

A militant lawmaker today called on President Macapagal-Arroyo, in her capacity as commander-in –chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to release the 43 health workers abducted by the military last Saturday in Morong, Rizal.

“We are elevating our call directly to Ms Arroyo, the commander-in-chief, to immediately break her silence and order the military to release the 43 health workers illegally arrested and detained in Camp Capinpin,” says Mariano.

He said the President’s “deafening silence is tantamount to sanctioning the illegal arrest, detention, and torture of the 43 health workers.”

“Despite the headlines, scathing commentaries and editorials, and international condemnation on the abduction and torture of the Morong 43, Ms Arroyo continuously ignore the issue,” Mariano said.

Mariano said that “Ms Arroyo’s virtual blessing to these human rights abuses mainly contributes to the chilling culture of impunity and violence in the country.”

“This is exactly the reason why the military is emboldened, in fact, they are now stepping up their attacks against members of progressive organizations,” Mariano said. #
 

           
           

 

Command responsibility on Morong 43 goes all the way to Arroyo - Anakpawis
Reference person:  Rep. Joel B. Maglunsod
Position: Representative
Contact information:  09282794255
Date: February 12, 2010

Anakpawis Partylist and Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) today demanded the immediate and unconditional release of the 43 health workers illegally detained by the military at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal for allegations that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA). “The human rights abuses committed against the Morong 43 deserve the same public condemnation as that heaped on the grisly Ampatuan massacre. Both are heinous crimes and human rights violations condoned by the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.”

Anakpawis Rep. Joel Maglunsod said the military’s prolonged detention of the medical professionals and community health workers is a violation of the victims’ constitutional right of being considered innocent until proven guilty. The military committed grave abuse of discretion with the arbitrary arrests and illegal detention of the Morong 43 who are all innocent civilians.

“The cases filed against the health workers – illegal possession of firearms and explosives and violation the Comelec gun ban – are without basis. The evidences against them were planted. This incident is a plain case of political persecution designed to attack and discredit the progressive peoples’ movement at this time when we are waging a national electoral campaign to win senatorial and congressional seats.”

The Anakpawis solon said the Armed Forces of the Philipines (AFP) and Philipine National Police (PNP) have made it a convenient excuse to accuse Arroyo’s critics of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) to gratify the government forces’ badly hurt ego and boost its low morale in face of its utter failure to quell the insurgency. “The AFP set the target of annihilating the NPA by June 2010, but who are they fooling? The NPA is not a card-bearing organization. The military could not just go about tagging people as members or supporters of the NPA,” Maglunsod said.

KMU national chairperson Elmer “Bong” Labog said this situation is even worse than during Martial Law. “It’s like we’ve never left the martial-law era with the military acting like uncivilized, uneducated crazed people. The have no respect for civilians.”

Labog said the blame on the Morong 43 case goes up to the hierarchy of the AFP and the defense department. “We hold PNP chief dir. Gen. Jesus Verzosa, AFP chief of staff Gen. Victor Ibrado, DND Sec. Norberto Gonzales and AFP Commander-in-Chief Arroyo accountable for the arrest, torture and detention of the 43 health workers. They will soon have their day in court and be prosecuted for their crimes against Filipinos.”
 

     
           

 

KILUSANG MAGBUBUKID NG PILIPINAS
(Peasant Movement of the Philippines)
20-C Maaralin St., Bgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Tel. No. (632) - 434-6957 Email Address kmp@kilusangmagbubukid.org
Visit our website www.kilusangmagbubukid.org

PRESS RELEASE
February 14, 2010
REFERENCE: Roy Morilla, Public Information Officer (0907-418-0098)

43 health workers, victims of human rights abuses are modern-day St. Valentine

The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) likened St. Valentine to Morong 43 and victims of human rights abuses under the Arroyo government. This is because St. Valentine was killed for his belief and became a martyr without giving in to his tormentors.

St. Valentine was a priest during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II from 268 to 270 AD. It was a time of war when Emperor Claudius was problematic about diminishing forces as married men do not want to leave their families and single men do not want to abandon their loved ones. As an impulsive measure, he decreed a law prohibiting marriage which St. Valentine did not support sturdily.

Thus, St. Valentine continued to marry couples secretly as he believed non-marriage while people were living in together would result to sin. One night he was arrested and sent to prison. He was offered freedom in a condition to renounce his faith, which he totally declined. He was ordered condemned to death, beaten with clubs, then beheaded. His death was placed on February 14, 270 AD.

“The history of Valentine concretely occurs today, such as the circumstance of the 43 illegally arrested and tortured health workers now detained in Camp Capinpin and victims of human rights abuses under the Arroyo regime,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka Co-Convenor.

“St. Valentine did not renounce his beliefs and fought for what was right, thus, he was killed by the fascist Emperor and died as a martyr,” he added.

“At present, the arrested 43 health workers are being tortured and sexually harassed by the 2nd Infantry Division of the Phil. Army based in Camp Capinpin, to force them to admit to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and crimes they did not commit. They are resolutely resisting thus they are being held in brutal conditions worse than petty criminals and mass murderers,” Flores said.

KMP and Tanggol Magsasaka said that peasant victims of human rights violations are similar to St. Valentine’s fate. To date, 562 peasant leaders and activists were victims of extra-judicial killings, 119 were KMP leaders and 129 were of enforced disappearances. The peasant sector has also the largest number of political prisoners being incarcerated in jails nationwide.

“In this day of love, the celebration is not exclusive to romantic love, but it would be morally upright to uphold love to one’s country, particularly calling for the release of the 43 health workers and justice for the victims of human rights abuses. We should note that the health workers were training in order for them to further serve the poor who do not have access to medical services, this is their love to the country and fellow brothers and sisters,” Flores said.

“On the contrary, the Arroyo government who is worse than the Marcos dictatorship, who kills peasants, workers, indigenous people, youth, women, urban poor and many more, does not deserve to be loved but to be ousted from power. Justice to the victims of human rights abuses would only be served when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is already not president,” Flores called. #
 

     
           
           

 

Reform group condemns non-bailable charges filed by DOJ
Stop the torture of 43 health workers! Free all 43 now!

Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change demands the unconditional and immediate release of the 43 health workers who are illegally detained and tortured in Camp Capinpin, Rizal.

The group also denounces the non-bailable charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against the health workers, saying that it has yet to establish if these were indeed found in their possession or were planted by the military.

Pagbabago! believes that these charges against the health workers are outrageous. The 43 are all community doctors, midwives and health workers who are members of the Council for Health and Development (CHD). Many of them are colleagues of Pagbabago! coordinating committee member,
Dr Eleanor Jara, and have actively participated in Pagbabago! forums in the past year. In fact, Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor is one of the members of Pagbabago! Manila chapter and was one of the doctors who led the Manila contingent of the State of the Nation Address (Sona) protest in July 2009.

According to the group, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) should be held liable for the illegal arrest and torture of doctors, nurses and other health workers who were holding a health seminar in Morong Rizal last February 6. The AFP by accusing the health workers of being rebels is also maliciously linking the New People’s Army (NPA) to the progressive partylist Bayan Muna, whose campaign paraphernalia were supposed to be found along with the explosives.

It took five days after the arrest before the military granted the right of the 43 health workers to see their counsel. The families who visited the camp daily were barred from seeing their detained relatives and were even questioned if they were indeed family members. Worse, the 43 are being subjected to torture, harassment and isolation in detention cells in Camp Capinpin everyday since their arrest.

Pagbabago! is concerned for the safety of the 43 health workers in the hands of the military. Human rights violations under the Arroyo administration has been one of the worst records in the country’s history
with continuing political killings, abductions and harassments. The case of the 43 health workers only confirms not only the military's involvement in these violations but also that these attacks are targeted
on people’s organizations and individuals who are serving the poor communities.

Pagbabago! demands the military to drop the charges, stop the torture and immediately release the 43 health workers. The group also vows vigilance in the upcoming elections against rampant violation of human rights and violence perpetuated by the AFP, PNP and government-sponsored paramilitary forces. #

--
Eleanor R. de Guzman
#0928.255.54.23

:Sen. Pia Cayetano and Ofelia Balleta, mother of detainee Jane

and daughter of the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran

:Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan and Gabriela Sec Gen. Emmi de Jesus      

 

February 13, 2010
Arrested fisherfolk activist said PNP turned over his cellphone to Isafp

By Trinity Biglang Awa and Jayjay Jaiho

Taytay, Rizal-The fisherfolk activist arrested Wednesday night by members of Binangonan police who mistook him as drug addict during a saturation drive today asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) why his cell phone was turned over to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp) operating in Southern Luzon.

According to the initial report gathered by the fact finding and paralegal team dispatch by the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the chief of PNP in Binangonan—Perfecto Ponce Palad gave the cellphone of Ronel Arambulo to Isafp after his men discovered “incriminating text messages” on his cellphone at the time he was arrested and interrogated for 20 minutes in Barangay Libis post in Binangonan two days ago.

Pamalakaya vice chairperson Salvador France who led the paralegal team yesterday said the PNP turned over the cellphone to the military intelligence group after the police learned that the 28-year old Arambulo was an organizer of the activist fisherfolk group and active officer of the militant party list group Anakpawis.

The PNP said it passed the cellphone to Isafp after they found “incriminating messages” which were scrolled during the brief interrogation in Barangay post, some 20 minutes before the Pamalakaya organizer was brought to the PNP Binangonan police station beside the municipal hall.

“What incriminating messages the police and military were talking about? According to our reliable source the military wants to extract more information from Arambulo and they are trying to figure out how they could present our organizer and party list leader as member of New People’s Army and establish his connection to the arrested 43 doctors and health workers whom the military alleged as communist guerillas,” the Pamalakaya official said.

France said as far as the text messages the military obtained from Arambulo’s cellphone, these messages pertained to the campaign activities of Pamalakaya and Anakpawis for the election that include motorcades and caravans, postering of campaign materials of the party list group and Makabayan senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza and distribution of leaflets of Anakpawis.

“Does conducting an election campaign for Pamalakaya favored bets a crime now under this national security obsessed government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?

“Arambulo is the organizer of Pamalakaya and active officer of Anakpawis and for the military’s criminal and narrow mindset, Arambulo is already something big. This is the reason why the PNP Binangonan has been trying hard to keep him inside their custody to allow the military to fish more information and implicate him, Pamalakaya and Anakpawis officers and members to near future fabricated charges which the AFP will file as part of grand legal offensive mode under Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency campaign,” France noted.

As of 2pm yesterday, paralegal volunteers of Pamalakaya, Anakpawis and Tanggol Magsasaka were asking for the official police blotter on Arambulo’s case, but the police desk officer failed to present any police document regarding the arrest. Although the police said they will file vagrancy against the Pamalakaya organizer.

“We were asking for the official blotter. Who were the arresting police officer and the members of his team that conducted the arrest of Arambulo? On what ground he was arrested and charged? What happened on the night of Feb.10 was illegal arrest and detention. We will file criminal and other appropriate charges against the police chief and his men for this Gestapo like arrest,” said Pamalakaya.

By 4pm, the police took Arambulo to Taytay Police Station and have him inquest for vagrancy, which is a minor offense. At around 4:30 the Pamalakaya organizer was sent back to Binangonan provincial jail. Aside from cellphone, the arresting team took Arambulo’s coin purse containing P 100, a list of beneficiaries of scheduled relief operations among victims of typhoon Ondoy and various receipts.

Pamalakaya said few hours before the “politically motivated abduction”, Arambulo was set to pick up bags of relief goods from the group’s staff house to be distributed to fisherfolk beneficiaries the following day in Barangay Libis, Sitio Wawa, Binangonan. #
 

:Atty. Lila de Lima, chair of the Commission on Human Rights
Relatives of detainees
      :Reading the banner headline of the day
           

 

February 11, 2010
 

Fisherfolk organizer detained for bearing ID of Anakpawis party list

By Trinity Biglang Awa

Binangonan, Rizal- An organizer of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and former chair of Anakpawis party list-Binangonan chapter illegally arrested and detained by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Binangonan upon suspicion that the fisherfolk activist has connections with the New People’s Army (NPA) upon discovery of the party list ID in his wallet.

Early this morning, Pamalakaya organizer Ronel Arambulo, 28 was on his way to Pamalakaya-Binangonan staff house in Barangay Wawa to prepare for the relief operations to victims of typhoon Ondoy, when he was chanced upon by Binangonan police conducting an anti-drug saturation drive near the vicinity.

Reports reaching the headquarters of Pamalakaya in Quezon City said Arambulo was taken to Binangonan municipal jail on suspicion that he is a drug pusher and drug user. But when the police found out that he is an organizer of Pamalakaya and former chair of Anakpawis party list, the police told Arambulo that he should be detained because his Anakpawis ID is a proof that he has connections with the NPA and the police kept his cell phone.

Pamalakaya-vice chairperson Salvador France assailed the police for arresting their organizer and for implicating Arambulo to NPA upon the discovery of an Anakpawis party list ID.

“What is wrong with Anakpawis party list ID? That’s a legal identification that Arambulo is an open, legal and aboveground activist. Is it a crime to bear Anakpawis ID for political and legal identification? Is there a law that makes someone criminal, terrorist or unlawful if he has the ID of Anakpawis or other progressive party lists” France added.

The Pamalakaya leader said Arambulo, aside from being his group’s coordinator and organizer in Binangonan for seven years, was elected Anakpawis-Binangonan chair from 2007-2010. Last February 7, the fisherfolk organizer led the election of new set of officers of Anakpawis during its third municipal assembly in Ynares Plaza.

On February 9-10, Arambulo led the five-vehicle caravan of Pamalakaya and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) to campaign for the party list bid of Anakpawis and Makabayan coalition senatorial bets Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Liza Maza (Gabriela Women’s Party).

Prior to his arrest this morning, Arambulo was with leaders of Pamalakaya and SLMM last night in Lupang Arenda in Taytay, Rizal for a mini-proclamation rally. The fisherfolk group and the Laguna Lake alliance “miting de avance” attended by more than 2,000 fisherfolk and urban poor declared their support to progressive party lists— Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan Party, Act Teachers Party list and Akap Bata and endorsed the senatorial bids of Ocampo and Maza.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap urged Binangonan mayor Carlos “Boyet” Ynares to intervene and recall the unlawful and politically motivated arrest of Arambulo. He said Pamalakaya will not hesitate to file criminal and other appropriate charges against the Binangonan PNP if they will not free Arambulo.

“If they will not release Arambulo within the next 12 to 24 hours, we will file criminal and other appropriate charges against the leadership and members of the arresting team of PNP- Binangonan,” he added.

Hicap said Pamalakaya will also file complaint of human rights violations and other grave violations of guaranteed constitutional rights and civil liberties against PNP Binangonan over the illegal arrest and detention of Arambulo by the local police.

“We will deluge the PNP Binangonan with charges. That’s for sure. We will also ask Anakpawis party list representatives Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod to have this politically motivated act of the police investigated in the House of Representatives,” the Pamalakaya official said.

Pamalakaya has dispatched a team of para-legal volunteers and will join officers and members of Anakpawis-Binangonan to conduct their own investigation and seek dialogue with Mayor Ynares. #
 

     
           
     

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Between Hope and Fear: Philippine Community Radio Broadcasting Under a Culture of Impunity

by Raymund B Villanueva
Director for Radio, Kodao Productions (Philippines)


Kodao Productions was organized under very hopeful times in the Philippines: a peaceful uprising ousted a corrupt and immoral president in 2001.  Immediately after People Power II, Kodao produced a daily radio program focused on good governance, transparency and democracy.  As it soon became apparent that the current Philippine government is even worse than the one it replaced however, Kodao’s radio program had no choice but be critical and crusading.  In the process, it won even wider listener-ship and various awards and accolades besides. 

As part of its core programs, alongside radio and video production, Kodao also has training and outreach projects. Kodao conducts radio broadcasting and video production trainings with farmers, community women, youth, workers and children.  It is also one of the very few organizations in the country that provides assistance and shares expertise in the establishment of community radio stations around the Philippines.   Kodao’s radio program spawned the Ngayon Na Bayan! Crusaders for Good Governance with membership from three of the Philippines’ most populous regions.  This organization functioned as community liaison for the radio program and its members became reporters, researchers and radio drama talents.  Ultimately, “crusaders” were invited to join Kodao’s Board of Trustees.

Kodao is a duly registered media organization and is operating under Philippine laws.  It is governed by a Board of Trustees composed of a national artist, academicians, professional journalists and advocates of various social issues like human rights and the environment.  Its day-to-day operation is managed by a secretariat headed by an executive director, program directors and staff.

One later success story Kodao is very proud of was the establishment of the first community radio station in more than a decade—Radyo Cagayano.  It was located in Baggao Town in Cagayan Province in Northern Philippines.   It was primarily organized by the Cagayan Peasants’ Organization to act as a community voice of farmers, workers, community women and the youth.  The level of community participation was such that the farmers themselves cut timber and collected gravel and sand to construct the station themselves.  Kodao’s assistance came in the form of transferring competencies on the art of broadcasting, reporting, writing and operation of the various kinds of equipment.  When it was operational, albeit very briefly, Radyo Cagayano instantly became very popular—never wanting in listener-ship and station visits.   It even became a message center as the listeners used the station to send messages to relatives and friends living in other parts of the area.   Within a month of its launching, Radyo Cagayano became the focal point in community life, crusading in its advocacies for peasants, women, youth and human rights and welfare.

All the successes mentioned above came at a heavy price, however.  In February 20, 2006, the Philippine government declared a state of national emergency which targeted groups critical of the gross human rights and graft records of the administration.  Kodao’s radio program became the first media casualty when it was ordered to cease broadcasting on the very same day.  In July 6 of that same year, Radyo Cagayano, the newest community radio station in the country that Kodao helped build and operate was attacked and burned by suspected elements of the Philippine Army.  Subsequently, Kodao was charged by the Department of Justice to be a subversive organization.  It took Supreme Court of the Philippines decision to declare the charge was baseless.

These attacks against Kodao and its allied community radio station is part of the culture of impunity existing in the Philippines.  And it is designed to strike fear on the hearts of even the most dedicated of community radio workers and advocates.  According to the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, there have been 64 journalists/broadcasters killed since Gloria Arroyo assumed the Philippine presidency in 2001.  This makes the Philippines the second most dangerous country to be a journalist next to Iraq.

But Kodao is undeterred.  In 2008, it produced a groundbreaking radio program by children by children on children’s rights.  Kodao also hopes to duplicate the success of Radyo Cagayano as it continuously campaigns for its reestablishment as well as the establishments of other community radio stations elsewhere in the Philippines.

As part of its long-term plan, Kodao also plans to organize a national alliance of community radio stations, broadcasters and advocates.  This national alliance is primarily aimed to be a collective voice of and for community radio broadcasting in the Philippines.  There is no law governing community radio broadcasting in the Philippines and this national alliance also aims to advocate for legislation to gain access to official support.  This is also seen as an effective tool to counter moves by big commercial radio networks to limit, if not frustrate, the establishment of community radio stations in the Philippines.

To work as a community radio broadcaster and advocate in the Philippines is dangerous to one’s physical and emotional wellbeing under such a culture of impunity.  But Kodao persists to tread along its promise to serve the people through the production of radio programs and establishment of community radio stations that give voice to the voiceless, among other projects. 
With the continued support and assistance of AMARC through various means, Kodao is ever hopeful that these objectives shall be at hand eventually.  One way of achieving this is through funding support from AMARC for the planned national conference of community radio stations, broadcasters, and advocates in forming the aforementioned national alliance.  Thereafter, the said organization shall offer trainings and conduct campaigns to push forward the interests of community radio broadcasting in the Philippines.  Kodao also relies on AMARC for continued support to its campaign for justice in the case of Radyo Cagayano.  Lastly, Kodao’s attendance to the regional conference in February next year will be another venue to campaign for support for community radio broadcasting in the Philippines.

At a time when a culture of impunity challenges us in the Philippines, we need the support and solidarity of fellow community radio and broadcasters in the region and worldwide to fight back and succeed. #

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