Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Heed the court order, transfer the health workers now

Dr. Julie Caguiat, Spokesperson - 0909-1133038
Philip Paraan, Media Officer – 0919-4861580

Free the 43 Health Workers Now! alliance today called for the military to follow the order issued by the Regional Trial Court of Morong, Rizal to transfer the 38 health workers to Camp Crame immediately.

“The alliance welcomes this development and look at it as a tactical victory for our campaign to free the 43. We are, however, saddened that the court ruled to retain the 5 Community Health Workers in the army’s custody,” Dr. Julie Caguiat, one of the spokespersons of the alliance said.

She maintained that the military’s claim that the 5 CHWs requested that they be retained in Camp Capinpin is preposterous. She cited their lawyers’ argument that allowing the 5 to remain in Camp Capinpin is tantamount to the idea that all detention prisoners have a right to choose their place of detention.

Dr. Caguiat argued that their group’s counsels motioned for the transfer of the 43 health workers to Camp Crame in Quezon City because of the grave human rights violations that the military continues to commit against the health workers. “Our petition for transfer is not because of the inadequate detention facilities in Camp Capinpin but because of the continued torture and threat that the military does to our colleagues. Their relatives are also made to endure different harassment and intimidation tactics. Visiting hours is limited to 10 minutes per detainee,” Dr. Caguiat said.

A detainee revealed to a relative that a soldier warned them, “mag-ipon na kayo ng tubig dahil hindi na namin kayo bibigyan,” (secure your water supply because we will not be providing you with water anymore).

Mrs. Evelyn Montes, wife of Dr. Alexis Montes said that the detainees’ families also had to endure everyday harassments from the military. “Even though they [military] see us and write to their log books every day as we come to visit our loved ones, we are repeatedly asked to identify ourselves and produce identification cards in every level of security until we reach the visiting area. One soldier even denied the voter’s ID of a relative saying that was not a valid ID. He was looking for the relative’s cedula instead!” Mrs. Montes shared in disbelief.

“We will not soften our demand that all of the 43 health workers be transferred to Camp Crame. We expect the military to heed the court order ASAP,” Dr. Caguiat added.

The group expressed hope that the detainees be immediately transferred to Camp Crame because of its proximity to the relatives and the Commission on Human Rights. ##

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