source: Eman Villanueva
Note: Below is the full text of the speech delivered by Necta Montes, regional secretary of the World Student Christian Federation - Asia Pacific (WSCF-AP) during a protest action held right outside the doors of the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong.
Magandang Umaga po sa inyong lahat! Good morning to all of you! Thank you for giving me this chance to express my indignation on the illegal arrest, detention, and torture of the 43 health workers in the Philippines.
My name is Necta Montes, I am a niece of one of the illegally arrested health workers, Dr. Alexis Montes. My uncle was accused by the Military of being a member of the New People’s Army and taking part in a plan to assassinate General Jovito Palparan, also known as the Butcher of Activtists and a favorite general of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Not able to find substantial evidence to prove these ridiculous accusation against my uncle and the 42 health worker, the Military charged them with Criminal offences and illegal possession of firearms. Using the guns and explosives they themselves, the Military, have planted as evidences during the raid and arrest they conducted last February 6.
My family and the families of the 42 illegally arrested health workers strongly deny and condemn the Military for spreading malicious accusations and making-up false charges against our loved ones. We are enraged by this incident and angered by the physical torture and the mental anguish that our loved ones have been subjected to by this fascist Military.
As doctors, nurses, midwives and community health workers they commit themselves to an oath to provide medical care and attention to ANYONE, and I repeat ANYONE needing their help at all times and in any place. In fact, when the illegal arrest was conducted on February 6, they were undergoing a First Respondents Training, NOT to build explosives as this stupid military accused them, but to equip community health workers to SAVE LIVES and NOT TO DESTROY LIVES!
My Uncle Dr. Alexis Montes is a 62 year-old licensed medical doctor. He has used his professional training and skills to heal the sick among the poor in my country. He has tirelessly devoted his service to people who cannot afford to go to the hospital for all sorts of ailment and treatment. He has spent nearly 40 years of his life visiting poor rural communities organizing Medical Mission together with members of our the Healing Ministry of our church, the United Church of Christ in the Philippine. As his eldest niece, my uncle has often asked me to assist him in simple surgical procedures when poor families from nearby slum communities would come to our home to seek for his help. He would not only do the surgical procedure for free, but he would send the patients with medicines and oftentimes give them few pesos for their ride home.
In a country where half of our population have no access to basic health care, where 40 % of our people cannot afford basic medicines even to treat a simple cold and where 10 women die every day because of childbirth related complications, health workers like my uncle and his 42 co-workers are the only HOPE and lifeline for the poor people.
Now I ask our government, Is it a CRIME to heal the sick poor people? Is it a crime to take on the responsibility of the failure of this government to provide basic medical care to its people? Is it a crime to be motivated by your faith to follow the example of Jesus Christ to heal and serve the people?
The illegal arrest of Dr. Alexis Montes and 42 health workers is a miscarriage of justice! It is an act of blatant disregard of human rights and the ideals of any democratic society! The arrogance of the Military establishment indicates a direct approval of the president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of these actions!
If the Philippine government will not act to stop the Military’s wanton disregard of people’s rights and welfare and continue to commit crimes against the people, WE WILL ACT!
Justice to all the victims of human rights violation of the Gloria Arroyo Regime!
Free the 43 Health workers Now!
Bruce Van Voorhis delivering his opening message yesterday, 18 February, during a protest action at the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong. Beside him is Necta Montes, a HK-based activist and niece of Dr. Alexis Montes, one of the "Morong 43".
Necta Montes, regional secretary of WSCF-AP, while delivering her speech.
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