“Plain shameless and inhumane,” was how Dr. Eleanor A. Jara described the declaration of the
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that it is giving the fourth-highest military award – the Bronze Cross Medal -- to Colonel Aurelio Baladad and Lieutenant Colonel Jaime Abawag this Wednesday in Camp Nakar in Lucena City, home of the Southern Luzon Command. The two military officers were directly involved in the illegal arrest, detention, and continuing torture of 43 health workers last February 6 in Morong, Rizal.
“In order to receive promotion and recognition in their careers, the officials of the AFP can tweak the truth and justify their lies at the expense of innocent civilians,” Jara said. The 43 health workers have been languishing in prison for trumped up charges since their illegal arrest.
“The health workers’ and their families’ basic human rights have been violated by the AFP and PNP and the government awards them for that. It all the more exposes the corrupted values this government has,” Jara lamented.
According to Jara, it is simply immoral and bereft of humanity to honor those who led the illegal arrest and continued torture of their colleagues who were undergoing health skills training in the house of a renowned infectious disease specialist and professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines.
Jara added that Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr’s claim that they are conferring the said award in “honor” of their feat is tantamount to honoring human rights violators and promotion-driven military officials who will prey on any citizen of this nation.
“They dragged, blindfolded, handcuffed without any reason and tortured our colleagues and now they are being rewarded with highest recognition? Where is the honor in that?” Jara asked.
She added that this latest conferment of medals further exposes the AFP as a shameless institution.
CHD, founded in 1989, is the national secretariat of more than fifty Community-Based Health Programs (CBHP) in the Philippines.
The case of the 43 health workers is now of international interest as different rights groups and health professionals all over the world, including the sister of EU President Herman Van Rompuy, keep signifying their call to immediately release the 43 health workers.##
In February 6, 2010, 43 health workers conducting a medical training in Morong, Rizal were arrested and accused of being members of the communist New People's Army. They suffered physical and psychological torture while in military custody.
"43" is a short documentary on the plight of the arrested health workers. It uses shadowplay to dramatize their experience in the hands of their captors.
a film by Southern Tagalog Exposure and Anino Shadowplay Collective
Featuring the voices of Joel Lamangan, Bibeth Orteza, Soliman Cruz and Bobby Balingit