Eleanor A. Jara, MD
cellfone: 0917-9789297/(632) 929-8109
March 3, 2010
Health and human rights groups today slammed the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for using taxpayers’ money for deceptive tactics such as the P50,000 “offer” to the detained health workers in exchange of their admission of involvement in the communist movement.
In a news article by Delfin Mallari Jr., the AFP admits to “offering” monetary remuneration to the 43 health workers but denied that the money was a bribe. 1st Lt. Celeste Frank Sayson, spokesperson of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division in Tanay, Rizal said that the money is an offer of financial assistance under the government’s Social Integration Program for rebel returnees. The “offer” was made through a representative from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) who met with the detainees on February 15 and 25.
“This is a direct insult to the judicial process and the families of the 43 health workers! Why would the AFP and the OPAPP take the liberty to make deceitful offers while the court has yet to decide whether the military’s accusations that the 43 are members of the New People’s Army (NPA) has basis or not,” said Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, Executive Director of the Council for Health and Development.
Dr. Jara said that although it is expected of the AFP to employ all forms of hard and soft tactics on the 43 health workers, this move exposes the military’s bankruptcy of morality and justice. She said that any member of the 43 can admit to anything after being subjected to various forms of torture.
The doctor added that if the government is indeed sincere in its involvement in the peace process, it should address the poverty and oppression of millions of Filipinos. Government funds derived from taxpayers’ money should be diverted to genuine economic and social reforms instead of spending for deceitful programs such as the so-called social integration programs, she said.
Dr. Jara cited Valentin Paulino’s mother’s revelation that her son is subjected to unimaginable forms of physical and mental torture. She said her son pleaded for his immediate release because he could not anymore bear what the military is doing to him. She added that her son confessed that he was forced to tell lies because the military threatened to harm his family. On the other hand, the military said that Paulino is showing interest in accepting the government’s cash reward for rebel returnees like him. But Paulino’s mother advised her son not to accept any offer from the military.
Earlier this week, Valentin Paulino with two other health workers has been reported missing by relatives. The relatives said that the three were taken out of their cells by guards. As of press time, the relatives have yet to see the three.##
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