KAIROS Calls for the Release of 43 Detained Health Workers in the Philippines
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives calls for the release of 43 medical and health workers in the Philippines who were arrested on February 6th 2010, in Morong, Rizal province. The 43 medical and health workers were participating in a first responders training sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation and the Council for Health and Development, when they were arrested by 300 soldiers.
KAIROS is gravely concerned about the conduct of the arrest. Furthermore, we wish to convey our indignation about alleged torture and indignities to which the 43 arrested medical and health workers have been subjected. Dr. Alex Montes, a 62-year old surgeon and long time staff member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines was among the 43 arrested medical workers. According to Romeo Capulong, head of the Public Interest Law Centre representing the 43 detainees, Dr. Montes was subjected to electric shocks, blindfolded and handcuffed for 36 hours and made to drink water laced with chemicals that made him numb.
The arrest and detention of the 43 medical and health workers follows a counterinsurgency program instituted by the military which threatens progressive individuals and groups that criticize the Philippine government on economic and political policies. KAIROS is concerned that these and other violations of Filipino peoples human rights will frighten people away from participating in the coming national elections.
We join the voices of partners in the Philippines, families and friends of the detained 43 medical and health workers, and local, national and international human rights organizations in calling on the Government of the Philippines to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release the 43 detained medical and health workers;
- Ensure the safety of these detainees, provide unlimited access to their family members and legal counsel while in custody of the military; and
- Conduct an impartial investigation into the legality of their arrest and detention, and the allegations of torture and indignities inflicted on them while in detention.
Furthermore, we join with other KAIROS members in calling on the Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to protect citizens from persecution, intimidation and violence directed against opposition groups, and ensure that the coming national election in May is not marred by violence and fraud.
We join the international community in calling the Government of the Philippines to implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, which seek to bring an end to human rights violations in the country.
We urge you to write letters to the Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to join our call for the immediate release of the detainees and to ensure their safety while in the custody of the military.
For more information contact Connie Sorio
Asia-Pacific Partnerships Program Coordinator