Archive | February, 2010

Updates in our fight to free the 43: Health workers file complaint before the Philippine Commission on Human Rights February 25, 2010 • by Renato Reyes, Jr

Posted on 25 February 2010 by admin

The 43 detained health workers went on the offensive today as they filed a complaint before the CHR, asking the commission to look into gross human rights violations in the arrest and detention of the 43 health workers last February 6 in Morong, Rizal.

The counsels for the 43, the Public Interest Law Center and the National Union of People’s lawyers submitted a letter complaint and the affidavits of the 43 which detail the various rights violations and accounts of torture
during detention.

Among those being held responsible were Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, commander-in-chief of the AFP who did not do anything will the violations were ongoing, AFP chief of staff Victor Ibrado, 2nd ID Chief Maj. Gen.
Jorge Segovia, 202nd IB chief Col. Aurelio Baladad and other officers who were involved in the military operation against the 43. The lawyers were also joined by the relatives of the 43 and the various groups supporting the campaign.

For her part, CHR chair Leila de Lima said that the Commission was already preparing an order for the AFP to explain the various allegations of torture, ill-treatment and violations of human rights.

The CHR will also ask the Department of Justice in particular why the 43 were denied counsel during the inquest proceedings held in Camp Capinpin on February 7. Based on the testimonies of the 43, it was only on the day of inquest that their blindfolds and handcuffs were removed. They were asked to line up and their names called. They were then informed of the charges against them. After this, the DOJ prosecutor Romeo Senson left the camp. The 43 were not allowed counsel during the inquest proceedings.

This seems to be the first time a prosecutor of the DOJ is being investigated for human rights violations. This is should serve as a warning to other prosecutors who will undertake similar legal short-cuts, denial of rights and
denial of due process.

Atty. Romeo Capulong, lead counsel for the 43, said that the lawyers will also file a motion to transfer the detention of the 43 from Camp Capinpin to Camp Aguinaldo. Both lawyers and doctors contend that the continued stay of the 43 in the military camp places them at risk of torture.

Families of the 43 were also allowed to air their concerns to CHR chair de Lima. Doctors also complained that those of them identified with any of the cause-oriented groups are barred from entering the Camp.

The CHR hopes to schedule a hearing once the necessary papers are submitted.

February 27, Saturday, will mark three since the 43 health workers were arrested and detained. We must press on with the campaign to FREE THE 43.

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Updates in our fight to free the 43: A CA decision will come out any day now February 21, 2010 • by Renato Reyes, Jr.

Posted on 21 February 2010 by admin

Last Wednesday was the deadline for the submission of memorandum ordered by the Court of Appeals in the petition for the writ of habeas corpus. The decision can come out on or before Wednesday next week. We must     be ready.

Doctors have found it increasingly difficult to access the detainees at Camp Capinpin. Families have also complained of delays during visits to the detainees. These restrictions come at a time when the AFP is desperately trying to cover up allegations of torture and ill-treatment against the 43.

Members of the United Methodist Church Cal-Pacific delegation from the United States were first hand witnesses to the suffering of families trying to visit their relatives in Camp Capinpin.

The UMC delegation is just the latest among many international formations that have expressed support for the 43. International pressure continues to snowball with protestant churches, health workers associations, and
recently, the sister of the president of the European Union adding their voices to the growing clamor for the release of the 43. The campaign to free the 43 is now global.

Local political leaders have also crossed party lines on the issue of the 43. Almost all candidates for president and vice-president have spoken out on the issue of the health workers. Senator and vice-presidential candidate  Loren Legarda has called on President Arroyo to speak out on the issue. Malacanang has responded that the president does not need to speak on the issue because it is already in the courts.

Senatorial candidate and former justice secretary Frank Drilon has also given the opinion that mere membership in the NPA cannot a be basis for arrests, and that an overt act or crime must first be committed to justify the
arrests of the 43. That is why the AFP has repeatedly said that they caught the 43 “in the act” of making bombs (despite the fact that the arrests were done at 6am.)

Protests have also been held the past week. Last Saturday, relatives and supporters of the 43 witnessed firsthand state fascism when they were hosed down at the gates of Camp Aguinaldo. The protesters which included the
human rights group Hustisya, Health Alliance for Democracy, Bayan, Katribu and Bayan Muna merely wanted to post paper doves with the names of the 43 on the walls of Camp Aguinaldo. The disproportionate use of force
was indeed condemnable.

Later that day, different artists converged in Kamuning, Quezon City for a solidarity night and fund raising for the campaign to free the 43. “Taumbayan” was the venue for Hilom, a cultural event which gathered poets, musicians and other advocates to lend their talents for the campaign. The place was packed and folks spilled over in the sidewalks. We did a re-worked version of “The Forty-Three”, a song written by Carl Lopez of Cebu, which was among the new works that have come out because of the campaign. Also look out for the new poems by Stum Casia and Kislap Alitaptap. More artists are expressing their support, through their works, for the 43.

Let’s keep those support statements, mass actions and contributions coming. On the third week of the campaign to free the 43, we thank all those who have given their all-out support. We give recognition to the families of  the 43 who have been patient and unwavering through all the difficulties of this struggle. They need our support more than ever.

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Updates in the fight to free the 43

Posted on 11 February 2010 by admin

Updates in the fight to free the 43
by Renato Reyes, Jr.

On the sixth day of their detention, the 43 health workers were visited by lawyers, doctors, the Commission on Human Rights and the Office of Sen. Pia Cayetano. Initial reports say their morale was boosted by the visit. The Department of Justice today also filed cases of illegal possession of fire arms and explosives against the 43 health workers. The case was filed in Morong, Rizal. No bail was recommended.

Meanwhile, in what could be the best news so far, the Supreme Court granted the petition for the writ of habeas corpus filed by the families of the victims. A hearing has been set for tomorrow, Friday at 2pm at the Court of Appeals in Manila.

The AFP continues to deny that they are subjecting the detainees to torture, calling it instead reasonable restraint. Bayan called on the Arroyo government to comply with the United Nations Convention Against Torture and the Philippines’ own anti‐torture law. the Arroyo government has not done anything to address the findings of torture made by the Commission
on Human Rights and the Health Alliance for Democracy. The fight is not yet over. We still need to do all we can, here and abroad, in the courts and in
the streets, to free the 43

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Summary of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to the 43 Health Workers Arrested in Morong, Rizal and Detained at Camp Capinpin

Posted on 10 February 2010 by admin

Dowload PDF FILE

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HEAD Slams Abduction of Doctors and Health Workers in Morong, Rizal

Posted on 06 February 2010 by admin

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) strongly condemned the illegal raid and abduction of 42 community health workers and doctors who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal early today.

Around 300 soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Rizal Philippine National Police and headed by Colonel Aurelio Baladad and Police Superintendent Balonglong, respectively, forcibly entered the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte around 6:15 this morning. The training participants were then lined up, frisked, blindfolded, and forcibly brought to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, AFP.

“We denounce the illegal raid and violent abduction perpetrated by the Rizal‐PNP and AFP‐SOLCOM against medical personnel,” declared Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD Secretary‐General. “We hold the Arroyo government fully accountable for whatever happens to our colleagues.”

“The raiding team used bogus search and arrest warrants, and disregarded the rights of Dr. Velmonte, who owns the property,” added Dr. Rivera.

Velmonte is a renowned and respected infectious disease specialist and her farmhouse is the regular venue of health trainings, with participants coming from both the communities and the academe.

The health workers are volunteers who provide health services to poor communities, while the doctors are communitybased medical practitioners working for different non‐government organizations (NGOs). Their personal belongings, as well the training materials used, were all confiscated by the military.

HEAD believes that state security forces are doing everything to sow  disorder and instigate turmoil that will be used as excuse to impose martial law and further vilify progressive organizations.

“The persistent attempts to link the participants to the New People’s Army are obvious efforts to discredit legal organizations that have been critical of the Arroyo regime.”

“The military and police remain the biggest violators of human rights in the country. We demand the immediate release of our colleagues!” concluded Dr. Rivera. ####

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