Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Workers Unite Against Repression and Fascism

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD)
2/F Doña Anita Bldg
284 E. Rodriguez Ave.
Quezon City
Telefax: (02) 725 4760

Media Release
18 March 2010

“This is a stand against a very dangerous precedent. Health workers who were once at the frontlines of healthcare in rural and frontier areas are now at the frontlines of the political struggle for civil liberties.”

Health Alliance for Democracy today joined the relatives, friends, and colleagues of the 43 illegally detained health workers in the hearing conducted by the Commission on Human Rights regarding the illegal arrest, detention, harassments, and torture perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police-Rizal Province.

“The Arroyo regime has long eroded whatever token system of checks and balances existed in this country,” declared Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD secretary-general. “The excesses of the state must be exposed and opposed!”

The AFP and PNP are consistently the top human rights violators in the country. The United Nations Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, in his updated report in April 2009, said that “the AFP has not changed...its counter-insurgency techniques...forced disappearances and illegal detentions remain all too common, as does the bringing of trumped up charges against Filipino activists...”

Moreover, the Alston report made a foreboding statement that “numerous statements continue to be other military officials identifying and vilifying members of civil society organizations. Such statements continue to be justified by reference to President Arroyo’s order that the AFP should end the insurgency ‘once and for all’ by 2010.”

Similarly, the “2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” released by the United States Congress last March 11 raised concerns regarding the persistent impunity in the country, saying “…arbitrary and warrantless arrests and detentions were common…Leftists and human rights activists were subjected to harassment by local security forces.” For HEAD, all of these remain manifest in the AFP’s handling of the 43 health workers. The military officers continue to deny sexual harassments and torture despite overwhelming evidence. They deny violating human rights yet disallowed the entry of relatives, legal counsel, and even the CHR team in the first two days of the detention. Then, they justify everything by accusing the health workers of being rebels, and that these were all part of the successes of Oplan Bantay-Laya.

“The Arroyo regime has embraced all that has been abominable with the Marcos dictatorship - from the corruption to the profligate spending, from the unscrupulous politics to the spiteful disregard for human rights.”

“The prevailing political repression and punitive violence enforced by security forces under the direction of the chief executive and commander-in-chief is a scourge on the Filipino people. This must stop now!” concluded Dr. Rivera. ###

Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700

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Justice for the 43!