First posted Monday, 08 February 2010 13:49 at www.tfdp.net
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) strongly condemns the illegal arrest and detention of 43 health workers conducting a health seminar in a resort in Morong, Rizal last February 6, 2010 by the Military and Police.
The illegal arrest and detention and the malicious labeling/red-tagging are clear harassment directed against human rights defenders that are often committed in the country. Col. Aurelio Baladad justifies the arrest and detention by accusing the victims of alleged involvement to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) and that they were allegedly making bombs.
Based from reports, the victims were having a seminar on First Responders Training sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD) at Dr. Melecia Velmonte’s Farm, a conference and training facility in Morong, Rizal when the raid took place.
Those arrested are volunteers on health related rights which the government fails to address. This mass arrest and detention and labeling violate their civil political rights and their right to promote and protect right to health as part and parcel of their work as health workers. This incident further shows that human rights defenders in the country are at high risks of being politically attacked and in most cases killed because of the nature of their work.
Another violation of the right of the victims is the refusal of entry of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) personnel and relatives by the military in Camp Capinpin to check on the conditions of the victims. Their right to due process and equal treatment under the law are also disregarded.
This incident is not an isolated case. TFDP has in fact documented cases of politically motivated illegal arrest and detention committed by the AFP and PNP against human rights defenders in the country and charging them with criminal cases and labeling them as enemies of the state. These human rights defenders have been languishing in jails and detention centers around the country.
A case in point is that of Archie Bathan, the anti-nuclear activist in Bataan who was arrested in May 2009 and charged with frustrated murder, illegal possession of explosives and firearms and being detained in Bataan Provincial Jail.
TFDP calls for the immediate release of the 43 health workers and human rights defenders. Frequent abuse of authority and human rights violations by the military and police need to be addressed and take into consideration immediately to prove governments’ sincerity in protecting the rights of the people against erring agents of the state.
Stop harassments of human rights defenders!
February 8, 2010