Friday, February 26, 2010

On Republic Act 7438

Julie P. Caguiat, MD
0909-1133038 / 929-8109

We, volunteer medical doctors, strongly condemn the continuing psychological torture inflicted upon the 43 health workers illegally detained by the Armed Forces of the Philippine at Camp Capinpin. We also deplore the military’s disrespect for the basic human rights of the detained health workers, including their right to medical services. Despite repeated requests from lawyers and family members, we have been denied entry by the camp authorities nine times. We were only allowed to see the detainees on February 11 (six days since their illegal arrest) and only upon the intervention by the Chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, and on February 24, when only one of the 3 physicians was allowed to enter. Under severely restricted conditions, the check-ups merely lasted for 10-15 minutes and under the scrutiny of 2-3 guards standing in close proximity, which made our patients feel uneasy. Such is the violation of their right to health and their right to privacy.

After the medical check-ups, we still endorsed our patients and their particular medical needs to their custodians. However, to date, no medical intervention has been made accordingly.

According to reports from the families, our colleagues who are now our patients continue to suffer from various physical and mental conditions. Two of them asked their custodians for emergency medical help but no medical attention was provided.

Under Republic Act 7438 Sec. 2(f), “Any person arrested or detained or under custodial investigation shall be allowed visits by or conferences with any member of his immediate family, or any medical doctor or priest or religious minister chosen by him or by any member of his immediate family or by his counsel... The person's "immediate family" shall include his or her spouse, fiancĂ© or fiancĂ©e, parent or child, brother or sister, grandparent or grandchild, uncle or aunt, nephew or niece, and guardian or ward.”

These provisions, meant to recognize both the needs and the rights of the detained health workers, are being violated on a daily basis.

Hence, we demand that the rights of the 43 detained health workers be recognized. We demand an immediate end to torture.

Free the 43 health workers now!

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Justice for the 43!