At Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal:

Families, relatives and supporters assert their right

to visit the 43 illegally arrested and detained health workers

 

Tanay, Rizal

 

February 13, 2010

 

 

Related pages:

 

 

■   Bacolod City - Protest rally to demand the release of the 43 health workers, Feb. 12, 2010

■   Manila = Multi-sectoral group denounces AFP defiance of Supreme Court order to bring 43 illegally arrested health workers to court, Feb. 12, 2010

■   New York City - In the middle of a snow storm. Fil-Am human rights advocates protest for the release of 43 illegally detained healthcare workers. Feb. 11, 2010

■   Manila, Los Angeles - Picket rallies to stop torture and to free the 43 doctors and health workers, Feb. 11, 2010

■   Morong, Rizal - Free the 43 health workers! Feb. 8, 2010

■   Morong, Rizal - Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) slams abduction of doctors and health workers, Feb. 6, 2010

 

 

 
Families and relatives of detainees Relatives of the 43 health workers line up to register
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Photos courtesy of AGHAM Youth /mp
           
           

 

AFP’S PARANOIA THREATENS NGOS’ GAIN IN ACCESS TO HEALTH SERVICES BY RURAL POOR CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

NEWS RELEASE
08 February 2010
Reference: Sophia Garduce, spokesperson , 0928-5089104

Child rights advocates call for the release of Dr. Merry Mia Clamor and other Medical Personnel abducted in Rizal

SALINLAHI Alliance for Children’s Concerns and its member organizations, especially the Parents Alternative for Early Childhood Care and Development, Inc. (PAECCDI) strongly condemn the recent illegal arrest of 43 health workers and doctors, including the mother of one of the student of PAECCD day care center; Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, Vice-President of the PAECCDI Parents –Teachers Association.

According to Sophia Garduce, Spokesperson of Salinlahi, the abduction and continuous detention of 43 medical personnel in Morong Rizal, by the 202nd Infantry Brigade and the Rizal PNP is ‘absurd and unfounded’. “The Salinlahi Alliance adds its voice to the growing public demand for the immediate release of the 43 medical workers. We can particularly attest that one of them, Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor is a loving and caring mother not only to her son but to the tens of thousands of poor children in both urban and rural communities whose health and nutritional conditions are a clear testimony of government neglect.”

Salinlahi also added that the Council for Health and Development and the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc, organizers of the training have been providing free medical services to children and their parents in the communities of Salinlahi member organizations. “Medical and health workers from these organizations have been doing what the government has failed to do, that is, giving the poor and deprived families the chance to access health services,” Garduce said

The child rights group cited that the ratio of medical worker to patient is 1:29,000 and thus, many children, even in the urban areas have not seen a medical professionals much less been treated by doctor. ‘The government should even be thankful to medical workers like Dr. Clamor, and Dr. Montes others who face hardships in delivering medical services to the poor amid very little resources and despite the ongoing trend where people like them more often than not leave our country and work abroad for better income possibilities.’

Garduce also said that the AFP’s paranoia, which has previously resulted to the violation of rights of peasants, workers, lawyers and journalist, has now extended to medical workers and became another stumbling block to the Filipino people’s access to health services. “The recent raid and abduction are a threat not only to the rights of all medical workers, but most of all to the survival rights of the poorest people in far flung areas, especially children who are developmentally very much in need of adequate and quality health care.” Garduce ended. ###

 

     
     
           
           
           
           

 

Abducted, Illegally Arrested and illegally detained (partial list)

 

1.      Dr. Merry Mia, Health Education and Training Services coordinator for Council for Health and Development (CHD), wife of Mr. Roneo Clamor (KARAPATAN Deputy Secretary General)

2.      Dr. Alexis Montes

3.      Gary Liberal, Registered Nurse (Jose Reyes Medical Memorial Center)

4.      Teresa Quinawayan, Midwife

5.      Lydia Obera, community health worker

6.      Reynaldo Macabenta, community health worker

7.      Angela Doloricon, community health worker

8.      Delia Ocasia, community health worker

9.      Jane Balleta, community health worker

10.  Janice Javier, community health worker

11.  Franco Remoroso, community health worker

12.  Ailene Monasteryo, community health worker

13.  Pearl Irene Martinez, community health worker

14.  Elen Carandang, community health worker

15.  Dany Panero, community health worker

16.  Rayom Among, community health worker

17.  Emily Marquez, community health worker

18.  Emelia Marquez, community health worker

19.  Glenda Murillo, community health worker

20.  Ace Millena, community health worker

21.  Ely Castillo, community health worker

22.  Lalyn Saligumba, community health worker

23.  Jovy Ortiz, community health worker

 

24.  Samsung Castillo, community health worker

25.  Mark Estrellado, community health worker

26.  Miann Oseo, community health worker

27.  Selvia Pajanosta, community health worker

28.  Lolibeth Donasco, community health worker

29.  Jenelyn Pizaro, community health worker

30.  Ramon de la Cruz, community health worker

31.  Jacqueline Gonzales, community health worker

32.  Maria Elena Serato, community health worker

33.  Mercy Castro, community health worker

34.  Lea de Luna, community health worker

35.  Judilyn Oliveros, community health worker

36.  Valentino Paulino, community health worker

37.  Yolanda Yaun, community health worker

38.  Edwin Dematera, community health worker

39.  Sherilyn Riocasa Tawagon, community health worker

40.  Gerry Sustinto, community health worker

41.  Jenmark Barrientos, community health worker

42.  Mark Escartin, community health worker

 

Threat, harassment and intimidation; Violation of domicile

 

·         Dr. Melecia Velmonte

·         Bob Velmonte

·         Bernardo Landag

Two caretakers 

 

 

           

 

The arrest of 43 health workers in the Philippines is an attack on the right to health of the poor

Date:
9 Feb 2010

Third World Relief Fund, a Belgian development NGO, and intal, a solidarity movement with people's movements in the Philippines and other countries, condemns the brazen arrest of 43 doctors and health workers in the Philippines. We consider it an attack on the Council for Health and Development (CHD), our long-time partner organization in the Philippines, and on the right to health of the Philippine people.

Yesterday, Saturday February 6, we were informed that in the early morning of the same day a training seminar of CHD in the municipality of Morong, Rizal province, was raided by a group of about 300 military and police. All 43 training participants were arrested and brought to Camp Capinpin in the same province. Among them is also Dr. Merry Mia, a staff member of CHD and the wife of human rights activist Roneo Clamor.

According to the Philippine press, the military later declared that they had arrested “ranking leaders of the New People's Army”, a Philippine guerrilla group, who were attending a bomb making seminar. The military claims they have found a number of guns, landmines and hand grenades in the building.

We cannot but conclude that these accusations are ludicrous. We have met Dr. Merry Mia on different occasions in the context of our joint efforts to uplift the health status of the poor in the Philippines and know her as a soft-spoken health professional with a remarkable dedication to her work with the community based health programs. We have also attended several activities and trainings of CHD and know for a fact that weapons and bombs are never around when they conduct health trainings. Moreover, the venue of the training was the house of Dra. Melecia Velmonte, one of the country's foremost experts on infectious diseases and a professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines. She herself was present in the compound and even conducted one of the lectures on the eve of the raid.

The initial investigation by human rights organization Karapatan points to a number of irregularities in this case. The search warrant did not mention the address of Dra. Velmonte's residence, the search of the compound was conducted without any witnesses and the owners of the house were not issued a receipt of the inventory of the items that were confiscated. This raises suspicion that these items were planted by the military. Most alarmingly, as of this writing (36 hours after the raid) the arrested health workers were not allowed visits by their relatives nor legal counsels in the military camp where they are detained.

The past few years, the Philippines' human rights record has been compromised by the continuing political killings, abductions and harassments and its military's involvement in these human rights violations. This case confirms once more that the climate of fear targets those people and organizations that are standing for the rights of the poor and marginalized. An attack on health workers and organizations that are training to serve their communities is an attack on the right to health of the poor.

Therefore, we strongly denounce the illegal arrest and detention of these 43 doctors and health workers, urge the Philippine government to ensure their safety and their immediate release. The Philippine military has to stop the black propaganda against human rights defenders and health workers. As a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a party to all major Human Rights instruments, the Philippine Government is bound to ensure the rights of its citizens, including their right to health, are respected.
 

     
           
     
loaded into trucks and brought to the detention barracks  
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Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Free the 43 Health Workers
Alliance of Health Workers (AHW

PRESS RELEASE
February 9, 2010

References:

Emma Manuel, National President, 09178008634
Robert Mendoza, PRO, 09183186377

We, health workers from different hospitals, clinics and institutions nationwide, strongly condemn the illegal arrest of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal. We are angered by the inhumane treatment and torture of our fellow health workers at the hands of the supposed “protectors” of the Filipino people. We hold the military and police men under their Commander-in-Chief Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) responsible for this open brutality against the health workers who are serving the Filipino people.

The 43 health workers were arrested under a false warrant during a health training on February 6, at 7:00 am by a composite team of 300 military and police men from the Philippine Army's 2nd Infantry Division and Rizal Philippine National Police headed by Col. Aurelio Baladad and Supt. Marion Balonglong. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. They were held incommunicado for more than 48 hours and bore signs of torture.

Two of the health workers are community doctors who are serving poor patients through medical missions and regular clinics. Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor and Dr. Alex Montes treated hundreds of patients in Rizal, Bulacan, and Metro Manila communities affected by Typhoons Ondoy & Peping last year. The doctors are members and staff of Council for Health & Development and Community Medicine Development Foundation that spearheaded the National Health Training.

Gary Liberal is a head nurse of the Operating Room of Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRRMMC) in Manila. He is the National Auditor of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), the Union President of JRRMMC Employees Union, and is a board member of Operating Room Nurses Association of the Philippines (ORNAP). He has served as a nurse in JRRMMC for almost 18 years and was one of the instructors during the health training.

Lydia Obera, one of the 43 health workers, is a teacher by profession, and is a community health worker for more than 20 years serving in different non-government health institutions. She is a staff of the national office of AHW.

Drs. Merry and Alex, Gary and Lydia, together with others shared their knowledge, skills, and time to the community health workers, in response to the increasing need for trained health personnel in the countrysides. The 43 health workers are serving the most deprived and far-flung communities, long time neglected by the Philippine government.

With this illegal arrest & detention, the GMA government through its most rabid military and police officers are attacking not only the health workers but the poor Filipino people sick and dying in poor communities. They are depriving again and again the poor Filipino majority of the most needed services provided by these health workers. In time, they will face the wrath of the united Filipino people.

We call on all service-oriented, freedom-loving people in the Philippines and other countries to make a stand, resist the attack against the health workers, against our health and our rights.

Free the 43 health workers now!
Hold the GMA government accountable to these human rights violations!
Continue the struggle for better health for the Filipino people!

------
Notes: The All U.P. Workers Union, Manila Chapter is an affiliate of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW). The AHW is a labor center primarily catering to Public Health Workers. It has more than 20,000 members in more than 30 affiliate unions, public health employees associations and individual members nationwide
 

     
     
     
           
     
     
           

 

Immediate release demanded for framed-up doctors, health workers
Date:
9 February 2010
Reference Person:  Elmer "Bong" Labog, KMU Chairperson
Contact information: 0929-629-3234
 

Fascism evolves anew under Arroyo

Kilusang Mayo Uno joins the clamor for the immediate release of the 43 health workers, including doctors, framed-up and detained for three days now by Rizal military and police.

Around 300 soldiers and police forcibly raided on Saturday morning the compound of Dr. Melecia Velmonte, where training is being conducted for volunteer doctors and health practitioners for community health work. They were accused as NPAs and guilty of illegal possession of firearms. But before any warrant of arrest was shown to them, the training participants were lined up, frisked, blindfolded, and hand-cuffed. After which, the military allegedly found C4 explosives, guns, grenades and landmines in the compound. The health workers were brought to Camp Capinpin in Rizal and held incommunicado until present.

The charges and framed up evidences against the health workers are obviously baseless, and were concocted to suppress health workers aligned with the critics of the Arroyo administration. These doctors and health workers do health service in far flung and poverty stricken communities – areas where government’s social services are hardly felt.

The frame-up and mass arrest demonstrate how Arroyo’s fascism evolves in a vain effort to crush the people’s movement for genuine social change. From extra-judicial killings, abductions, and black propaganda, Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya took on a new form two years ago with the massive cases of trumped up criminal charges filed against progressive militants, mostly from Southern Tagalog also. Last year, some militants experienced being harassed to death by military agents. Now, it seems that frame-up is the newest method of the regime to quell opposition and sow terror among the public.

The incident, an unprecedented one, also proves that no one is spared under the regime’s bloody campaign. Since 2001, the US-Arroyo regime has already victimized journalists, lawyers, and doctors – professions that supposedly enjoy safety under a democracy.

From concocting criminal charges to concocting evidences as bases for detention, the US-Arroyo regime is sending a message that it is hell-bent in its ambition to end rebellion before its term ends in a few months. We are sending, however, a clearer message: As long as oppression, injustice, and poverty is perpetrated by the ruling classes of this society, resistance and the progressive movement will only get stronger.

What the military has done to the doctors and health workers should incite the strongest condemnation and action. They have offered their knowledge and skills in sincere service to the masses. As they are detained and kept from continuing their noble cause, let us enjoin more people to take action for their immediate freedom, and for the genuine liberation of the masses they have served. #

     
           
     
     
           

 

Friday, February 12, 2010
Have you cured Ka Roger?,’ other shockers
By DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:50:00 02/12/2010

THE INTERROGATOR’S taunt outraged Dr. Merry Mia Clamor as she sat blindfolded, her hands cuffed, in a room she could not describe, facing somebody she could not see.

The disembodied voice had sneered: “Ginamot mo na ba ang buni ni Ka Roger (Have you cured Ka Roger’s ringworm yet)?”

The 33-year-old physician did not reply.

“I was shocked. I could not say anything,” she told the Inquirer Thursday in her first interview with the media since she and 42 other health workers were arrested on Feb. 6 in Morong, Rizal, on suspicion of links with communists.

The interrogator was apparently referring to Gregorio Rosal aka Ka Roger, the spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The 43 detainees, including two doctors and other health professionals, were finally allowed to confer with their lawyers belonging to the National Union of People’s Lawyers and of the Public Interest Law Center in their tightly guarded detention cells at Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal.

The eight lawyers led by Edre Olalia were assisted by Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Leila de Lima.

Presumption of innocence

At a meeting with Brig. Gen. Jorge Segovia, the commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, De Lima said the military’s treatment of the detainees did not meet human rights standards.

“Even assuming that they are really all NPAs (New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP), they still have rights. All civil and political rights are still available to them, especially the constitutional presumption of innocence,” De Lima said.

To which Segovia replied: “The presumption of innocence that applies to NPAs should also apply to our soldiers… As far as our officers are concerned, they’re only trying to do their job.”

Earlier, the CHR accused the military of subjecting the 43 detainees to “psychological torture”—a charge Segovia denied.

'It’s a shame’

Clamor said she was teaching volunteers first aid and other basic medical procedures at a health training seminar in the early morning of Feb. 6 when she and the other health workers were arrested.

She said her unseen interrogator’s question served to trivialize her efforts.

“I was doing this with the purest intention—to train volunteers and to give them skills so they themselves can help others in their community,” Clamor said.

“It’s a shame… I chose to stay here in the Philippines instead of going abroad. I chose to stay [despite] the knowledge it would be a thankless job,” she said.

Clamor said that as a member of the Council for Health and Development (CHD), she had taken part in medical missions and other health training seminars in Rizal, Bacolod, Negros and Iloilo.

Logistics

Segovia said the detainees had not been allowed to see their lawyers until Thursday largely because of a logistical problem.

He said it was the biggest number of arrests of “underground personalities,” and that Camp Capinpin had no ready facility to accommodate all 43 health workers.

The military also needed to process the detainees’ identities, he said.

Olalia at one point objected to the “underground” tag, prompting Segovia to rephrase his remark by adding “alleged.”

Another problem, according to Segovia, was that some of the detainees refused to reveal their identities, and their lawyers also did not provide the right names to the military custodians when seeking permission to meet their clients.

But Olalia said the right of a person to see a lawyer upon arrest was so crucial that denying it constituted a serious breach of human rights.

‘Violated’

“We felt violated. We were illegally arrested. We were questioned without a lawyer present,” Clamor said from her cell.

Recalling her first night in detention, she said the questioning was relaxed at first, with the interrogator asking where she worked, what she did, and so on.

But the tone turned hostile as the night wore on.

When she said she did not want to answer any more questions without a lawyer, she was told: “You’ll be long gone before your lawyer comes.”

Husband Karapatan exec

But while she had initially been denied access to a lawyer, Clamor said her husband, Roneo Clamor, was granted permission to see her.

“He took it in stride. He’s used to situations like this,” she said of her husband, the deputy secretary general of the human rights group Karapatan.

Clamor said she did not experience rough treatment from the soldiers except during the arrest, when they pointed long firearms at her and the others and ordered them to lie on their bellies.

“We appreciate the handling of the female guards,” she said.

In an interview with reporters, Segovia insisted that all 43 detainees were NPA members.

The military provided reporters a list of the detainees, including name, aliases, addresses, age, educational attainment, schools and “position” in the NPA.

Clamor’s position was listed as “national level.”

“That’s not true,” she said.

Online campaign

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has launched an online campaign for the release of the 43 health workers.

In a letter posted on Tuesday on its website (http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2010/3362/), the AHRC said two of the 43, Janice Javier and Franco Romeroso, were illegally held from September 2008 to June 2009 and tortured by state forces to admit that they were NPA members.

The two were released for lack of evidence but were rearrested, along with Yolanda Caraig, in Morong Rizal, on Feb. 6, the AHRC said.

It also named Clamor of the CHD, Dr. Alex Montes of the Community Medicine Development Foundation, nurse Gary Liberal, midwife Teresa Quinawayan, and other members of the CHD staff as among those arrested.

The AHRC listed the case under its “urgent appeal” desk, which, it said, was a tool “to create an international support network and open venue for action.”

It expressed the hope that the letter would reach United Nations representatives, national human rights commissions, court houses and government officials.

The AHRC suggested that the letter also be sent individually to President Macapagal-Arroyo, CHR Chair De Lima and other government officials by fax or mail.

Melissa Roxas’ case

In a separate statement dated Feb. 7, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan chapter in Canada said it was “demanding the immediate and unconditional release” of the 43 health workers.

The group said the arrests were “reminiscent” of the alleged torture suffered by US citizen Melissa Roxas in May 2009 in the Philippines, when she was abducted while on a medical mission.

With a report from Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon
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