Sunday, February 07, 2010

HEAD Demands Immediate Release of Detained Medical Personnel

07 February 2010
Media Release


Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) called for the immediate release of two doctors, a nurse, midwife and other health workers (CHWs) arbitrarily arrested and illegally detained by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Contrary to allegations made by Colonel Aurelio Baladbad of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, the people they are holding are long-time medical personnel who are well-known to their patients and the communities they serve,” declared Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General.

Dr. Alex Montes of Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) and Dr. Merry Mia of the Council for Health and Development (CHD) were among those blindfolded and hauled to Camp Capinpin after elements of the AFP Southern Luzon Command and the Rizal Philippine National Police forced their way into a private resthouse in Morong, Rizal early yesterday morning.

The two doctors have been working with their respective NGOs for many years. Together with Mr. Gary Liberal, a nurse, Ms. Teresa Quinawayan, a midwife, and CHD staff members, they were conducting a health skills training with volunteers from various communities when they were arrested.

“Col. Balalad is now accusing all 43 of being members of the New People’s Army in order to justify their actions. The AFP should prove their allegations instead of using bogus arrest warrants and planted evidence.”

HEAD strongly condemned military allegations that bomb-making materials, guns, and even a claymore mine were found under the beds of the participants during their raid.

“The absurdity of the military’s story is confounding! The AFP conveniently finds these so-called weapons after confiscating all of the personal belongings of the participants as well as the materials used for the training. He (Baladlad) and his men should be reprimanded for gross abuse of authority and outright violations of basic human rights,” added Dr. Rivera.

Dr. Melecia Velmonte, who owns the resthouse, is a respected consultant of the Philippine General Hospital for infectious diseases. The place has three buildings and is a regular venue of health trainings. Yet, the AFP alleges that this is an “NPA training camp”.

The health group also denounced attempts by the military to link the party-list group, Bayan Muna.

“It is obvious that the Arroyo regime is doing everything to discredit legal organizations that have been critical of its anti-people policies. With such implicit consent, the worst forms of criminal behavior are those of state security forces, who conduct illegal raids and arrests with impunity, and who make baseless accusations with wanton disregard for the rule of law.”

“We demand an end to the abuses by the AFP, PNP, and the Arroyo regime. We demand the immediate release of our colleagues!” concluded Dr. Rivera. ####

References:
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, 0920 460 3712

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, 0927 473 7700
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Notes: Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) are allies of the All U.P. Workers Union in its advocacy for health workers rights and people's health

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