Resolution on illegal arrest, torture and continuing unjust detention of 43 health workers in the Philippines

Approved by the ILPS International Coordinating Group
13 March 2010

Whereas, 43 health workers consisting of doctors, nurses, midwives and community health volunteers were illegally arrested last 6 February 2010 in Morong, Rizal, Philippines, and have been detained and falsely accused of being members of the New People’s Army undergoing training in explosives and demolitions;

Whereas the arrested health workers were in fact participating in a one-week First Responders Training sponsored by the Council for Health and Development CHD), a charter member organization of the ILPS actively involved in Commission 6 (Right of the people to health and the rights of health workers);

Whereas such training seminar of the CHD aimed at upgrading the knowledge and skills of the health workers and thereby increasing their capability to serve the people in their communities, especially the toiling masses, is in accordance with the principles and program of action of the ILPS;

Whereas the arresting units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police committed gross violations of the rights of the 43 health workers such as:

  1. forcibly entering the training premises and arresting them on the basis of a flawed and improperly served search warrant
  2. blindfolding and handcuffing them for several hours and refusing to inform them of why they were being arrested,
  3. planting the firearms and explosives to be used as so-called evidence against them,
  4. flatly denying the health workers’ demand for counsel and interrogating them continuously for several days without counsel,
  5. subjecting them to physical and psychological torture, including indignities, deprivation of food and sleep, electric shock and grave threats on their lives and those of their nearest kin unless they “cooperate” and admit they are members of the NPA,
  6. defying the order of the Court of Appeals to produce them in Court, (7) denying them their basic rights as detainees.

Whereas, the illegal arrest, torture and detention of the forty-three health workers is in line with the US-Arroyo regime’s internal security plan, particularly the US-directed Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch), which has included extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and other gross violations of the human rights of leaders and members of progressive organizations like the CHD that uphold and work for the people’s interest and oppose the anti-national and anti-people policies of the ruling regime.

Whereas, the US-Arroyo regime has callously and shamelessly flaunted such a policy by allowing the perpetration of these gross human rights violations with impunity and even commending the perpetrators; in this case, by awarding the military officers who led the operation with the bronze cross, the third highest award given in the AFP,

Therefore, be it resolved that the ILPS

  • Condemn in the strongest terms the illegal arrest, torture and continuing detention of the 43 health workers by the joint forces of the military and police last 6 February 2010 in Morong, Rizal, Philippines;

  • Demand the immediate release of the 43 health workers;

  • Demand that those involved in the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the health workers be arrested and brought to justice; and

  • Call on its member organizations and the international community to make the strongest demand that they can muster for the release of the 43 health workers and to condemn and hold accountable the US-Arroyo regime for its gross and systematic violation of human rights in the Philippines.

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