New Zealanders Denounce Abduction of 43 Doctors, Health Workers


8 February 2010

Wellington Kiwi Pinoy, a group of New Zealanders supporting campaigns against human rights abuses in the Philippines , denounces in strongest terms the abduction of 43 doctors and community health workers by around 300 soldiers and police in Morong, Rizal. On 6th February, the victims were robbed of their personal belongings, blindfolded, and forcibly brought to Camp Capinpin , headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, AFP.

This shameless attack on medical personnel who were gathered in training in the house of Dr. Melecia Velmonte again exposes the wanton disregard of civil liberties by military and police forces. Dr. Velmonte, a renowned infectious disease specialist, and her colleagues deserve the greatest respect for serving the poor communities of Morong, Rizal in the face of government failure to deliver the most basic health services for the poor. Wellington Kiwi Pinoy joins the families and colleagues of the victims in demanding their freedom. We likewise support the call to end militarization in the communities of Rizal and other provinces where similar cases of military abuses have been committed against civilians.

After the brutal massacre of scores of journalists, lawyers and other civilians in Maguindanao, the Morong incident adds to the long list of large-scale human rights violations under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. It’s not surprising that the heads of the raiding team, Colonel Aurelio Baladad and Police Superintendent Balonglong, based the raid and abduction on phoney “intelligence reports” that the medical personnel were members of the New People’s Army (NPA). How many more brutal killings, torture and detention of ordinary peasants, laborers, journalists, clergy, doctors and others will be justified by the government’s counter-insurgency campaign?

It is deplorable that the Philippine government continues to enjoy millions of dollars in foreign aid from the US , Australia and even New Zealand for its corrupt military and police forces. The Morong incident is yet another compelling reason for New Zealanders to join concerned groups around the globe in supporting the Filipino people’s demands for government to use taxpayers’ money to improve access to healthcare, housing and education rather than fund escalating militarization and political persecution.

Rod Prosser
Spokesperson - Wellington Kiwi Pinoy