(Statement of the Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights KARAPATAN, February 7, 2010)
Human rights alliance Karapatan strongly denounces the terrorism being foisted on groups critical of the Arroyo regime’s policies and human rights violations in the run-up to the May elections. Karapatan condemns the recent illegal arrest of more than 40 health workers and doctors, including the wife of Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor, Dr. Mary Mia, who were conducting First Responders Training in Morong, Rizal early Saturday, February 6.
At 6:15 Saturday morning, at least 300 heavily armed elements of the combined forces of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (202IBPA) and the Rizal Provincial Philippine National Police (PNP) forced their way into the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte in Morong, Rizal where the training was being held.
According to initial information gathered by Karapatan, the health workers, 26 of whom are female, were made to line up, their photos taken, were frisked, blindfolded, handcuffed, and were forcibly brought to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal. The victims were also interrogated by the soldiers, while another was taking videos of the whole process. Col. Aurelio Baladad, commanding officer of the 202nd IBPA, alleged that the victims are members of the New People's Army (NPA).
"The PNP and AFP conducted the operation based on a defective search warrant allegedly for illegal firearms addressed to the property of a certain Mario Condes, that was issued by Judge Cesar A. Mangrobang of the Imus, Cavite Regional Trial Court. But in the first place, Condes is not the owner of the property that was raided,” Clamor stated.
Clamor also belied the military’s claims that the healthcare workers were making explosives. “My wife, Dr. Mary Mia, is the director of Community Health Development (CHD) for Health Education and Training Services, and has been providing health services as a community doctor for a long time,” he said.
As of writing, no formal charges have been filed against the doctors and health workers, and they are still being illegally detained in Camp Capinpin. The victims’ relatives and lawyers were not allowed inside the camp Saturday afternoon.
"The arms and explosives supposedly found by the military and police in the house, even the election paraphernalias, were planted by the perpetrators during their so-called ‘search operations.’ The military were not supervised by the owner of the house, the have the victims and the residents are lined up outside the buildings,” Clamor, who joined the team that initially gathered data, said.
“My wife and her colleagues should immediately be released, the military are illegally detaining them,” demanded Clamor.
Meanwhile, Lovella de Castro, Karapatan Secretary General added that training communty health workers have become a necessity because of the government's failure to address health care problems of the Filipinos.
"We should thank these doctors who chose to practice their profession in places where they are mostly needed. They train community heallth workers for free, as they are just being true to the oath of saving lives. These community health workers are also volunteers who just intend to provide medical services for the people," de Castro said.
Instead, under the counter-insurgecy program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL), these doctors and volunteer health workers are considered enemies of the state. "As Mrs. Arroyo's OBL 2 and term of office is coming to an end, the more they have become desperate. Civilians have fallen targets of military operations wherein all due process are taken for granted,” de Castro added.
De Castro called on the people to be more vigilant, and to watch out for the numbered days of GMA in power. "We in the human rights community will not rest until we have held Arroyo accountable to all her crimes against the Filipino people." de Castro concluded