Friday, February 12, 2010

From Caritas New Zealand

12 February 2010

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
(Fax: 00632 742-1641)

Dear President Arroyo,   

As a Catholic agency promoting justice, peace and human rights in Asia and the Pacific, Caritas is deeply concerned about the arbitrary arrest of 43 community health workers in Morong, Rizal Province, on 6 February 2010. We understand they have been detained at an army camp in Tanay, Rizal, with no contact with others. Their well-being is unknown.

According to local and international newspapers, including the New York Times, the community workers were taking part in training on community health service in a farmhouse. Without evidence, the military has alleged that the workers were undergoing training on bomb-making, possessing ammunition and that they are members of the New People's Army (NPA). Visitations have been refused from families and lawyers.

We are concerned at reports that the detainees have been blindfolded for long periods, and subjected to torture and sexual harassment. We understand a 60-year old doctor was electrocuted and repeatedly hit on the chest while being questioned. If such allegations are true, the military has violated the Anti-Torture Act.

We understand most of those arrested are affiliated with the Council for Health and Development (CHD) and Community Medicine Development Foundation (CMDF), NGCs striving for a better standard of medical services in remote, local communities.

This arbitrary arrest without proper procedure and adequate evidence has tarnished the Philippines international image. We urge you to immediately release the 43 workers and stop ill-treatment of them.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Smith

PO Box 12193
Wellington 6144
New Zealand
Level 1, Catholic Center
22-30 Hill St.
Tel 64-4-496 1742
Fax 64-4-499 2519
Free Phone 0800 22 10 22
Donation Line 0900 4 11 11
Charities No: CC36055

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Justice for the 43!