Free 43 Philippine Healthcare Workers

February 10, 2010

To:  Philippine Government & U.S. Government
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Sec. of State Hillary Clinton
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Senator Barbara Boxer
112 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
202) 224-3553

Senator Dianne Feinstein
331 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
WASHINGTON DC 20510
202) 224-3841

H.E. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
Cell#: (+ 63) 919 898 4622 / (+63) 917 839 8462
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

Atty. Agnes Devanadera
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email: soj@doj.gov.ph

Atty. Leila De Lima
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chr.delima@yahoo.com

Norberto Gonzales
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights)
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org

February 9, 2010

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the Philippine police and military’s illegal raid and abduction of 43 community health workers and doctors who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines on Saturday, February 6, 2010. The health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD). Their personal belongings, as well the training materials used, were all confiscated by the military.

According to reports by the media and the human rights alliance KARAPATAN, approximately 300 soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Rizal Philippine National Police (PNP) forcibly entered the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte at 6:15 AM. The training participants were then lined up, violently frisked, blindfolded, and taken to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, AFP. The health workers have been held incommunicado since then, and have been denied their right to legal counsel. A team from the Commission on Human Rights was also blocked from seeing the detainees.

We condemn the government for sending the message that Filipino doctors and nurses are welcome to go abroad to work, but they are unjustly targeted and arrested if they stay in the Philippines to serve the poor and the underserved. These illegally arrested and detained health workers are the first responders that have tirelessly served the communities affected by the flooding and landslides in the aftermath of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year.

We are deeply concerned for the safety of these healthcare professionals who have committed their lives to serve the underserved communities in the Philippines. We are equally concerned that it is our tax dollars that are being sent to finance the Philippine government and its’ military in on-going operations that are clear violations of basic human rights. We support the following demands so that they can immediately return to their families and the communities that they serve without further violations of their human rights.

1.    The immediate release of the health workers who are illegally arrested and illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.

2.    The government must ensure the safety of the victims and that they are not harmed; their belongings be returned immediately to them.

3.    The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will investigate the raid and illegal arrest of the health workers conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal.

4.    The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”

5.    The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

6.    The immediate withdrawal of US military aid to the Philippine government and military that continue to perpetrate violations of human and civil rights.
Sincerely,

The Undersigned

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