Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, USA::

Protests vs the illegal arrest and detention of Morong 43 health workers

 

 

February 25, 3010

 

 

Sydney, Australia - On the 25th of February 2010, members of Migrante-Australia, Philippines Australia Union Link (PAUL), Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition (AABcC) and Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP) held a demonstration at the Philippines Consulate in Sydney calling on the Arroyo government to release the 43 community health workers.

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 .

/p

/p
Photos and captions courtesy of Migrante - Australia
           
           

 

 

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

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

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

President Arroyo,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Arroyo, enough is enough.

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

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


Contact person: Lina Cabaero, Mobile: +61407 841 010
Migrante Australia
PO Box 212, Altona North 3025, Australia
Email: migrante.aussie@optusnet.com.au
 

Edwin Subijano, President of Lingap Migrante – association of Filipinos and Filipino-Australians in Western Sydney presented the open letter of Migrante Australia to President Gloria Arroyo through the Vice Consul Mr Anthony Reyes. The open letter stated: “It is despicable how you continue to implement OBL to victimise civilians such as the Morong 43”.

A protest action held on 25 February 2010 at the Philippine Consulate in Sydney, Migrante Australia, Philippines-Australia Union Link, Australian Anti-Bases Coalition and Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines urged President Gloria Arroyo to release immediately the 43 community health workers.

=          
==          
Photos and captions courtesy of Bayan - USA
           
           

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Reference: Kuusela Hilo, Vice Chair of BAYAN-USA
vc@bayanusa.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 Philippines .”

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
Email: cps_hr@yahoo.ca
-30-
++++++++++++++++++
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: cps_hr@yahoo.ca
 

 

PRESS RELEASE

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 government officials.

In her letter to President Arroyo, Elmore cites her alarm over reports that the detainees were subject to various forms of torture and sexual harassment.

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
Vancouver-Kensington
Community Office
6106 Fraser Street
Vancouver, BC
V5W 3A1
T: 604-775-1033; F: 604-775-1330
Mable.Elmore.MLA@leg.bc.ca
mableelmore.ca

--
http://migrantecampaign.ning.com

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

           
           

 

BONUS TRACKS

Verboten, Bawal

 

           

◄  Reminder to visitors of detainees posted at Camp Capinpin

where the 43 health workers are being illegally detained

     
           
           
     
       
     
**          

 

 
 

Google