NAFCON STATEMENT ON THE ILLEGAL ARREST OF FILIPINO HEALTHWORKERS

The National Alliance for Filipino Concerns-US (NAFCON-US) Demands the Immediate Release of 42 Health Workers Illegally Arrested and Illegally Detained in a Military Raid, Rizal Province, Philippines

New York—NAFCON-US, an alliance of Filipino American organizations based in 23 cities, condemns the Philippine police and military’s illegal raid and abduction of 42 health workers and doctors who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines on Saturday, February 6. The health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD). Their personal belongings, as well the training materials used, were all confiscated by the military.

The human rights alliance KARAPATAN reports approximately 300 soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Rizal Philippine National Police (PNP) forcibly entered the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte at 6:15 AM. At gunpoint, the military forced the caretaker to open the gates. Inside, the soldiers fanned out to different directions. They also kicked the main door to get into the building.

When Dr. Velmonte and her son, Bob demanded for a search warrant, they were merely brushed aside by the military. All medical practitioners and health workers, were ordered to line up at the garage, frisked, and handcuffed. The victims were also questioned and photographed by the military, while another took a video recording of the interrogation. The male victims were then blindfolded with old shirts brought in by the soldiers and secured with packaging tape.

When the participants were already handcuffed, it was only then that Police Superintendent Marion P. Balonglong showed Bob a search warrant for a certain Mario Condes of Bgy. Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal, charged with illegal possession of firearms. The search warrant dated February 5, 2010 and issued by Judge Cesar A. Mangrobang of Branch 22 of the Imus, Cavite Regional Trial Court, did not indicate the exact address of the Velmonte compound. Bob asserted that the warrant did not specify their address, and that Mario Condes, who is subject of the warrant, is not even the owner of the house, but he was ignored by the authorities.

The health workers were forced into the military trucks and were brought to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of Philippine Army. The health workers have been held incommunicado since then, and have been denied their right to legal counsel. A team from the Commission on Human Rights was also blocked from seeing the detainees.

“The PNP and AFP’s illegal abduction and detention of health professionals is reprehensible and again highlights the Arroyo regime’s disregard for human rights,” states Father Benjamin Alforque, NAFCON-US President. “We condemn the government for arresting these health care providers while they were undergoing ‘First Response Training,’ to serve the poor who are in most need of critical healthcare.”

“If the Philippine government was truly concerned with the welfare of the Filipino people, especially in light of the recent devastation caused by natural disasters such as Ondoy and Pepeng, it would be supporting, not arresting, health professionals who are trained in emergency response and who seek to serve communities,” adds Julia Camagong, NAFCON Vice President of Programs.

Karapatan Recommended action endorsed by NAFCON-US:
Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

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

2. The government to ensure the safety of the victims and that they are not harmed; their belongings be returned immediately to them.

3. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into raid and illegal arrest of the health workers conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal.

4. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”

5. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

You may send your communications to:
H.E.Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

Gen. Avelino Razon, Ret. PNP
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
osec@opapp.gov.ph

Norberto Gonzales
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

Atty. Agnes Devanadera
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email: soj@doj.gov.ph

Atty. Leila De Lima
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chr.delima@yahoo.com

GMA STOP THE ILLEGAL ABDUCTION AND DETENTION OF COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS!

JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS UNDER THE ARROYO REGIME!

NO TO US MILITARY AID THAT SUPPORTS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS