FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Reference: Kuusela Hilo, Vice Chair of BAYAN-USA
firstname.lastname@example.org, (818) 395-9207
Human Rights Advocates Deliver Petitions and Prayers
For the 43 Health Workers to Senator Boxer’s Office
Los Angeles , California --Concerned leaders and human rights advocates
representing various communities in Los Angeles sent a delegation to speak
with California U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer’s office. They met with Senator
Boxer’s office to deliver petitions signed by over 500 people and
organizations to demand the immediate release of the 43 health workers who
have been illegally arrested, detained, and tortured by the Philippine
military since February 6, 2010. Representatives of the delegation urged
Senator Boxer to continue her commitment to human rights by supporting the
demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the 43 and to stop
human rights violations in the Philippines .
The delegation included community leaders Reverend David Farley and
Reverend Sandra Richards of the United Methodist Church; Melissa Roxas, a
survivor of abduction and torture in the Philippines; Chito Quijano of
California Nurses’ Association and the International League of Peoples’
Struggle (ILPS); Kuusela Hilo of BAYAN-USA and the Asian Pacific American
Labor Alliance (APALA); representatives from the organizations AnakBayan
Los Angeles; Habi Arts; Sisters of GABRIELA, Awaken!; International Action
Center; Confederation of Iranians; and other concerned individuals.
ILPS representative Quijano stated, “We request Senator Barbara Boxer to
support the release of the 43. As long as the 43 health workers are
languishing in a 'Guantanamo-like prison' and the Philippine military
continues violating human rights, no U.S. tax dollars should be given to
the Philippine government.”
In 2008, following a hearing in the United States Senate on the human
rights situation in the Philippines, convened by Sen. Boxer, the US
Congress voted to withhold $2 million of 2009 military aid until the
Philippine government complied with certain human rights conditions.
However, the Philippine government has not made any significant efforts to
improve the human rights situation in their country. The Ampatuan Massacre
in November 2009, which saw the slaying of 58 people, along with the
illegal arrest and abuse of the 43 health workers at the hands of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines only demonstrate the worsening human
rights conditions in the country.
Rev. Richards, Rev. Farley, and Hilo took part in the United Methodist
Church California Pacific Pastoral and Solidarity visit to the Philippines
last week. They also participated in a delegation that visited the 43
health workers illegally detained in the military Camp Capinpin . Rev.
Richards shared her firsthand accounts with Senator Boxer’s office,
including the conversations with the families of the 43 detained health
workers and the forum with Commission on Human Rights Chair Leila de Lima.
Rev. Richards concluded, “Regardless of whether one believes that the 43
health workers are innocent of the charges, it is a fact beyond doubt that
their civil and human rights have been violated. They were forced to sit
handcuffed and blindfolded for 36 straight hours, were not told with what
they were being charged, were not allowed to lie down or sleep, and were
fed and toileted by strangers. This kind of torture is illegal in the
Philippines . The military has shown extreme disregard for human rights
and the law of the country they are meant to protect.”
Rev. Richards elaborated, “The global United Methodist Church has
determined that two of its four goals are: global health and ministry with
the poor. The 43 health workers were living out this call. It's troubling
that the Philippine government has criminalized the work on behalf of
these goals. If these selfless acts of mercy are allowed to be categorized
as criminal, then who can be safe?”
Rev. Richards highlighted, “The United States is widely seen as a partner
in the Philippine Military, and is a funder. If the U.S. Government does
not step in to free these health workers, the United States Government
will have become a party to religious persecution of the Christians in the
On February 15, 2010, after the petitioning for writ of habeas corpus and
mounting public pressure, the Philippine military presented the 43 health
workers to the Court of Appeals. The testimony from one of the victims,
Dr. Alex Montes, shows proof of psychological torture, physical abuse and
other inhumane and degrading treatment of the detainees. The deadline for
the court to make a decision on the writ of habeas corpus is Wednesday,
February 24, 2010.
“All the 43 health workers did was to serve the poor and the most
vulnerable in society and they filled a great need that the Philippine
government was not able to provide,” stated Roxas. “I know what it feels
like to be detained and tortured. No human being should have to go through
that. The situation is critical. Every day that the 43 health workers are
not released, it is one more day they have to endure of pain, fear, and
torture. We demand the immediate release of the 43 health workers. We need
to help stop human rights violations in the Philippines .”
An on-going petition http://www.petitiononline.com/Free43/petition.html
has been launched online. All supporters of human rights are invited to
join the international effort to Free the 43. More information can be
found at http://www.freethehealthworkers.blogspot.com/
IMMEDIATE FREEDOM FOR THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS!
Statement from the Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
16 February 2010
The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights condemns in the
strongest terms the illegal arrest, torture, and continued unjust
detention of the 43 health workers forcibly taken by the military and
police on February 6, 2010, in Morong, Rizal, Philippines. This group is
made up of two medical doctors, a registered nurse, a midwife and 39
community health workers.
According to Dr. Melecia Velmonte, Professor Emeritus at the University of
the Philippines and an expert on infectious diseases, the 43 health
workers were holding their health training at her family resort compound.
This was a First Responders' Training for health workers organized by the
Community Medicine Development Foundation, Inc (COMMED) and the Council
for Health Development (CHD). The early morning raid was conducted by 300
heavily-armed soldiers and policemen who came in eight (8) military
trucks, two (2) armored personnel carriers, and police cars.
The National Union of People's Lawyers has also denounced the raid and
arrests and said that “the search conducted by the military was an illegal
search because it proceeded from a search warrant that was invalid on its
face.” The warrant had a different address, dated the previous day, and
issued for a certain Mario Condes (who was not among the 43). True to
form, the military discovered in their illegal search “guns, high
explosives,” including “a grenade and land mine from one of the beds.” The
lawyers, health organizations and human rights groups agree that the
“evidence” was likely planted by the military. As the husband of Dr. Mary
Mia-Clamor, one of the 43 health workers, pointedly observed, “Would you
hide a grenade under your pillow?”
The 43 health workers were blindfolded, hauled to Camp Capinpin, rendered
incommunicado, denied visits from their lawyers, doctors and their
families – all in violation of the detainees’ constitutional and human
rights. Even members of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights (CHR)
were denied their legally-mandated visitorial rights. Furthermore, the
public inquest of the detainees should have been conducted in a police
station, and not a military camp, as stipulated in Department of Justice
Circular No. 61.
We fear for the safety and well-being of the 43 workers the longer they
stay in the custody of their captors. The detained health workers have
described how they were subjected to forced interrogations, blindfolded
and handcuffed for at least 36 hours and subjected to various forms of
physical and mental torture and inhumane, degrading treatment. At the
Court of Appeals hearing last Feb. 15th, Dr. Alex Montes, the 63- year-
old surgeon in the group described his torture and repeated interrogation.
Electrodes were attached to his head, which sent electric shocks through
his body when his answers failed to please his interrogators. He was
brought outside, handcuffed and blindfolded, tied to a chair, and jabbed
at with sharp objects on his chest. He was shoved backward and twice, he
found himself under water, half-drowning and blind. He testified that he
could not walk alone and suffered the indignity of having someone else
lower his pants and underwear for him to be able to pee. Dr. Montes is not
only a surgeon with COMMED but he also served as the Health Ministries
Coordinator of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
CHR Commissioner Chair Leila de Lima expressed alarm at the reports of the
detainees’ experiences: “The detainees were denied sleep and subjected to
a continuous interrogation. One of them says that they were continuously
handcuffed and blindfolded for about 36 hours,” she says. “They were not
allowed to touch their own body, meaning those feeding them food is
someone else.” They were also kept in separate detention cells, and the
blindfolds removed only prior to de Lima’s visit.
All these acts are clear violations of the Anti-Torture Act of 2009. All
these are clear violations of international human rights conventions and
even the Philippine Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Nothing justifies these
violations of human rights.
As the Arroyo government nears the end of its presidential term, we see
her marked desperation to eliminate any opposition and resistance against
her government. We see the arrest, detention and torture of the 43 health
workers as part of the government’s counter-insurgency effort (called the
Operation Freedom Watch) that has violated the people's rights and
liberties and claimed the lives of thousands and yet, has failed to stop
the people's movement for change.
The Canada-Philippine Solidarity for Human Rights demands the immediate
release of the 43 health workers. We also demand that the military and
police officers be charged with torture pursuant to the Anti-Torture Act
of 2009 as well with the violations of the detainees' constitutional,
legal and human rights.
No one, more so those who have chosen to use their medical knowledge and
skills to address the health needs of underserved communities with little
or no financial gain, deserves this kind of injustice.
The Canada-Philippine Solidarity for Human Rights will continue to follow
the case of the 43 health workers. We will continue to extend our support
and solidarity to the 43 health workers, their families, their colleagues
in the health sector and their lawyers.
Freedom for the 43 Health Workers NOW!
-Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPS-HR)
is a member of the Stop the Killings (STK) Network-Canada; the
International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS); and the International
Migrants Alliance (IMA). It is also a coalition partner of the Global and
Societal Ministries BC Conference of the United Church of Canada and a
proud partner of BAYAN-Canada.
Filipinos and Canadians working for the promotion and defense of human
rights in the Philippines.
address: 202-4989 Duchess St. Vancouver, Canada V5R 6E5 * email: email@example.com
February 10, 2010
For reference: Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver-Kensington, 604-775-1033
Filipino MLA condemns abduction of 43 health workers, doctors in Rizal
Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver-Kensington today expressed outrage over
the illegal arrest and detention of 43 health workers and doctors, known
as the “Morong 43”, in the Philippines.
The Morong 43 were abducted around 6:15am from a conference facility in
Morong, Rizal last February 6th. They were participants in a First
Responders Training sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation (Commed)
and the Council for Health and Development. They were taken by 300 heavily
armed elements from the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army and
Rizal Philippine National Police to Camp Capinpin in Taytay, Rizal.
“These kinds of shocking events and blatant human rights violations are a
black eye and an embarrassment for the Philippine government,” says
Elmore, who also expressed her concern to President Arroyo and other
In her letter to President Arroyo, Elmore cites her alarm over reports
that the detainees were subject to various forms of torture and sexual
According to the Health Alliance for Democracy, the detainees were
handcuffed and blindfolded for 36 hours after being brought to Camp
Capinpin. At the Camp, they were confined in dark cells and forced to
listen to gunfire. At night, the detainees recounted that men would enter
their cells to punch them and take their pictures.
Further, relatives of the detainees and the Commission for Human Rights
were initially denied access to the detainees by the military at the Camp.
“These are all very disturbing violations of the basic rule of law (such
as invalid search warrant, denial of access to legal counsel and a doctor)
and fundamental human rights,” said Elmore.
“This event is inexcusable and combined with the massacre in Maguindano,
it’s important that we all speak out and advocate for these victims. We
need to take steps to ensure everyone’s basic human rights are observed,”
she added, noting reports of how the Arroyo administration often tramples
on the rights of those who criticize it.
Along with Elmore’s correspondence to President Arroyo, she also forwarded
her concerns to the Canadian government and is calling on Canada to
condemn the illegal arrest and immediate release of all detainees. As
well, she noted how the international community needs to increase pressure
on the Philippine government to take immediate and concrete steps to stop
and prevent such human rights abuses and election-related violence.
Elmore concluded by announcing that the upcoming International Observers
Mission (IOM) for the Philippines’ national elections in May is an
opportune time for Canadians to become involved in efforts to safeguard
democracy and human rights in the Philippines.
Locally, the Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights is organizing
a Canadian contingent, which will include legislators and other advocates,
for this IOM. #
Mable Elmore, MLA
6106 Fraser Street
T: 604-775-1033; F: 604-775-1330
#10 Banuyo St.Brgy.Amihan, Project 3, Quezon City