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Filipinos Mobilise British Union on Impunity in the Philippines

“UK Filipinos mobilized inside one of Britain’s largest and most powerful trade unions last week, succeeding in getting its support for trade union rights in the Philippines and hosting a packed fringe meeting.

At the UNISON conference in Bournemouth held from June 14 – 18, Filipino workers for the first time addressed the more than 2,000 delegates, condemning the appalling human rights abuses suffered by workers in the Philippines and urging delegates to sign Motion 101.

Meanwhile, at the fringe meeting, ‘Violation of Trade Union Rights in the Philippines’, jointly hosted by Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP), Amnesty International UK and UNISON, speakers informed delegates of the human rights situation in the Philippines and its links with migration and economic issues, also pressing delegates to sign the later passed motion calling on the UNISON National Executive Council (NEC) to seek greater linkages between UNISON and trade union movements in the Philippines, as well as working with the Filipino diaspora  in combating trade and human rights violations in the country, pressuring the UK government to take a stronger line with the Philippines government and raising awareness of the situation in the Philippines.”

Karatula Pilipinas: Youth Artists Echoes Chorus of Big Stars For Change in P-Noy Proclamation

“Genuine Change.

This is the long-standing call of Kabataang Artista Para Sa Tunay Na Kalayaan (KARATULA), an organization of youth artists nationwide, similar to what President Noynoy Aquino promised in his inaugural speech delivered in front of millions yesterday morning at the Quirino grandstand.

“I witnessed history in the making as P-Noy took his oath of office. After nine years of anti-people leadership of Former President Gloria Arroyo, artists, youth and the people are clamoring for solutions that would solve the fundamental problems of the country,” said Ana Tarina G. Lulu, national chairperson of KARATULA, “we have witnessed the unity of the people, politicians from different parties and, notably, even showbiz stars from rival networks coming together to express their optimism in the new chapter of our nation.”  “

Dear friends and fellow human rights watchers,

Providing health care for the urban poor is NOT a crime, but for the Morong 43  it is… San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SFCHRP) is for your help by clicking this link http://www.petitiononline.com/Free43 and signing this petition to FREE the Morong 43 Health Care Workers that are being illegally detained and tortured by the Philippine Military.

However, even in detention they still provide medical services for other political prisoners whom are detained with them.

Please email us your letters of support for the 43 health care workers to sfchrp@yahoo.com

Thank you SO MUCH for your support,

Michael “artivista” Luat

Chair of SFCHRP


Picture

Dr. Alex Montes and patient
We need money for healthcare and education! So why is the US sending over $30 million taxpayer dollars each year to arrest, jail and torture health care workers and other innocent civilians in the Philippines?

Every year, the US sends tens of millions of dollars in military aid to the Philippines–and it’s added up to a whopping $1 billion US taxpayer dollars since 1999.  What has been the result? Record-high numbers of human rights violations have been committed against innocent civilians, including: 1,118 killings  • 1,026 cases of torture • 204 forced disappearances • 1,983 illegal arrests. Who is perpetrating these human rights violations?  Reports by the United Nations, Amnesty International, and KARAPATAN all conclude that the Philippine military, police and paramilitary units are the perpetrators, and are targeting pastors, teachers, union leaders, students, lawyers, journalists, healthcare workers, artists and others whose only “crime” is voicing criticism of the government for neglecting and exploiting the Filipino people. They are being arrested, tortured and killed for doing what the government should be doing–serving the poor and oppressed.

The arrest, detention and torture of 43 healthcare workers is the latest outrageous case of human rights abuse. On Saturday, Feb. 6, the Philippine military and police used a bogus search warrant to raid a First Responders healthcare skills training in Rizal, where they violently arrested and jailed 43 community healthcare workers, including two renowned doctors, a nurse, and midwives. The military has inflicted physical and psychological torture on the healthcare workers, including: sleep deprivation, prolonged tactical interrogation with death threats, 36+ hours of being blindfolded and handcuffed, solitary confinement, and denial of legal counsel and medical treatment.  The health workers are still being held in jail on trumped up charges of being rebels, and the military has even defied a Supreme Court order to produce the 43 health workers at a court hearing.

The 43 health workers and doctors were undergoing health training to serve the vast majority of Filipino people who do not have access to healthcare. They should be treated like heroes!  But instead, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her military are persecuting them.

You can help.  Join the growing movement of grassroots organizations, churches, individuals, and labor organizations and unions such as the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), National Nurses United (NNU), and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to demand the release of the 43 healthcare workers.

Sign the petition at http://www.PetitionOnline.com/Free43/petition.html so you can
1.    Tell Congress and the Obama administration to end all US military aid to the Philippines. No US tax dollars for torture!
2.    Tell President Arroyo to Free the 43 health care workers and end all human rights violations being committed by her military.

For more info: www.bayan.ph/freethe43.php or http://freethehealthworkers.blogspot.com or www.bayanusa.org.

Download printable


Federico “Boy” Dominguez was born on June 9, 1953 in Tangkulan, Bukidnon, Mindanao Philippines. He traces his descendents on to the Manobo and Mandaya indigenous peoples of Mindanao, and the Tagalog ethnic group in Luzon. He was raised in Davao City but spent his vacation in his parents’ community in Davao Oriental where he experienced some of the social events performed by his Mandaya relatives as well as several indigenous groups in Luzon.

He took up architecture and fine arts at the University of Mindanao and the University of the Philippines in Diliman respectively. He has been involved with various governmental and non-governmental organizations, and people’s organizations as a free lance artist doing posters, illustrations and layout designs on publications, mural painting, and production and stage designing.

The subjects of his works vary from social conditions that are happening in the Philippines, to everyday life of the Filipinos, and to a union of farmers across the world.  Boy’s illustrations are social commentary on what are happening to the nation, whether its about Imperialists   dumping their goods on the Philippine economy or Indigenous issues. His works are seen to have vibrant colors and texture that make the audience feel the emotions and mood of the subjects.

His favorite hobbies are playing the blues harp and guitar, and swimming. He loves folk rock and roll. He is a member of Tumbang Preso, a multi-media organization which renders services in visual, musical, performing and literary arts. He is currently based in Quezon City with his wife and three children.

The Red Traveler Speaks Her Mind: An Interview with Ms. Con Cabrera of Artists’ ARREST

Posted By Ronalyn V. Olea On March 28, 2009

Ms. Con Cabrera, a member of the Artists’ Response to the Call for Social Change and Transformation, or Artists’ ARRREST, in this interview shares with Bulatlat her views on arts, issues confronting Philippine society today and some personal things that she wanted to share with her audience.

BY NOEL SALES BARCELONA
Correspondent
Bulatlat
CULTURE

Ms. Con Cabrera, a member of the Artists’ Response to the Call for Social Change and Transformation, or Artists’ ARRREST, in this interview shares with Bulatlat her views on arts, issues confronting Philippine society today and some personal things that she wanted to share with her audience.

This young artist had shown her prowess in an exhibit last year, MissBehaving, together with Ms. Bunch Garcia, another superb young artist and a member the Neo-Angono Arts Collective, which garnered a lot of applauses and commendations.

The young artist, who graduated from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), is now making waves in the art scene with her unique style of presenting the people’s struggles, particularly of women, in her immaculate white canvases.

Our first encounter was in October 2008 at the Lunduyan Art Gallery in Kamuning, Quezon City. She and Ms. Garcia had hung their paintings on the walls of the 30 x 30-meter gallery. These were pictures of women of different types, shapes, sizes; showing different moods, ideals, intellect. Ms. Cabrera’s series of pieces was titled “The Red Traveler”.

MissBehaving was indeed a success but between the exhibit and this interview I hardly heard from Maria Consuelo G. Cabrera, or Con.


Con Cabrera (left) with Bunch Garcia during the “Fact Sheet” exhibit. (Photo courtesy of Con Cabrera)

The 28-year old Pampangueña artist hails from a family of well-known artists. Ben Cabrera (BenCab) and the late Salvador Cabrera are her uncles (“They’re my father’s cousins,” she said in an email interview). And some of her other kin are also into arts.

Noel Sales Barcelona (NSB): After your two-woman show with Ms. Bunch Garcia, what has made Con Cabrera busy? Is there any new work?

Maria Consuelo Cabrera (MCC): After the October ‘08 show, I joined several group shows in Novermber, “boXed 3″ organized by J. Pacena II (Cubicle Art Gallery, Pasig), “TutoKKK: Anong K mo?” organized by the artists’ alliance Tutok Karapatan (Blanc Compound, Mandaluyong and Blanc Makati), and Artists’ ARREST’s “Fact Sheet” exhibit last December where I helped curate.

I’m currently employed as an art director in a publishing company. Aside from my day job, I’m busy helping ARREST in organizing for their events and campaigns. I’m also busy with my upcoming group shows, and another volunteer project where my friends and I paint on bare rooms and walls of the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. We started this last Christmas break, and do it on scheduled weekends of each month. So far, we were able to paint two rooms, including the Hema room where cancer kids have their chemo sessions, and the wall of the OPD waiting area. I also started a project, “Naku! I’m FIRED!” — which addresses the issue of mass layoffs. It’s a cross-disciplinary art project patterned after “Wrapped” by Mark Salvatus where the outputs are multimedia and participatory. I plan to collaborate with other artists in this project and try to bring them to pickets and rallies of workers to do their art and interact with the people.

NSB: What/who are your influences in art?

MCC: I am fan of women artists like Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian early baroque painter; Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi, Filipina painter and printmaker who lives in France; Brenda Fajardo and Karen Flores. I admire their perseverance in being the artists that they are, especially with the art field being dominated by men. I am also inspired by works of the masters Juan Luna, Amorsolo and Botong Francisco, also by artists BenCab (of course), Manny Garibay, Jose Tence Ruiz, young artist Wire Tuazon, and red artist, Parts Bagani. I also draw inspiration from contemporary street artists like Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Bansky and painter Ian Francis.

Point of view in arts, being an artist, and the roles that an artist plays in the society

NSB: How do you view your art and how do you define art? Is it just confined to self-expression and/or gratification?

MCC: First, I would like to say that I am thankful that I am able to show my art at this particular time of my life when I have grown to be the activist that I am. Though I would not want to label my art as social realism because I am afraid of the expectations one is burdened with when labeled as such, I think I can say that I am resolved to create art that tackles the masses’ struggle against those who oppress them. I have nothing against artists who make art for self-expression. I think that phase is natural at some point in an artist’s life, and I am hopeful that there is also a point where an artist showcases content that is beyond it, that there would be a time in their lives where they would devote their art to an advocacy and/or the further advancement of art in the country.

NSB: How do you assess the art industry in the country?

MCC: I think art industry in the Philippines has a lot of potential. Even in the early times, we had proven that we are rich in talent. We have skills and talents that are recognized by the world. I just wish that there would be more advanced ways of preserving artworks, more art historians, more published local art books, more art and cultural education for the masses, and more recognition for our local artists, and art and culture exposure that reaches beyond the metro.


Kompo by Con Cabrera

Critique on issues affecting culture and the arts

NSB: What are your views about…

(a) Globalization and its effects on arts and the art industry as a whole?

MCC: Art is becoming a commercialized industry, it is affected by the crisis because it lowers the demand for art selling. But then again, it becomes rich in inspiration and I wish more artists look at it from this perspective to make them create more art that is socially relevant and that depicts the present situation of the country, more as painting history.

(b) Philippine social realities and its connection to propagation and development of arts and culture?

MCC: It is an unfortunate fact that culture and the arts are not a priority of the government that is why everything’s backward. “Spoliarium” is the only restored painting we have and it is unacceptable that our art will be lost in a matter of time if we do nothing about it. Art is an important part of our culture and it needs preservation.

(c) Role of an artist in developing national and social consciousness?

MCC: Art is part of making and writing of history and for that, it is our responsibility as artists to bring upfront more socially relevant contents in our works. Works that don’t only mirror social reality but also has a call for change.

(d) The “liberalization” and “Westernization” of arts?

MCC: Though westernization had opened us to exposure to more style and art forms, it also has set a benchmark for art to carry on what is “globally accepted”, leading us to forget to maximize and utilize what is our own culture and art.

Con Cabrera on the road

NSB: Any upcoming shows?

MCC: March group shows:

Mar. 6 – a mini art exhibit by Shangri-La Mall for the celebration of Women’s Month

Mar. 28 – “Resurrection” in My Little Art Space Gallery in Greenhills

May 26 – “PasyoNasyon” by KASIBULAN (Kababaihan sa Sining at Bagong Sibol na Kamalayan) at the CCP main gallery

NSB: Any message to your fellow artists?

MCC: To artists, may they realize the power of art as a tool to revolutionize and change the system that has long been a burden to the masses. That they may find the true purpose of art that is for the masses and to gear it towards them that it is not for an individual or an institution alone. Because as artists, we are also citizens as Brocka once said, and to elaborate on that, let me quote Sir Boni Ilagan on his speech during ARREST’s general assembly last July 2008:

“..The artist-as-citizen must learn more than the technique of his art, but the politics and ideology of his commitment.

“In this connection, may I say that as we artists-as-citizens create, our works only become relevant AND enduring only if and when they illuminate social reality beyond the parameters of the urgent and into the hopefulness of the militancy of the people’s movement.


We shan’t lose our vigor by Con Cabrera

“My third point is about the end-all and the be-all of our creations. What is the use of it all when the people for whom we create are not affected in a manner that inspires them to act? All our works amount to nothing if they remain on canvass, on paper, on the screen or video monitor, on stage, or in CDs and tapes. But they will amount to everything if they leap from their medium and into the hearts and minds of the people. And then, ultimately, the people themselves must transform our art into a material force in their collective struggle to create the greatest work of art there could be.”

Miscellany

NSB: Who are your favorite recording artists?

MCC: I listen to a lot of ‘80s and ‘90s rock, punk, classical and folk. I like Bob Dylan, The Clash, Janis Joplin, cellist Yoyo-Ma, The Section Quartet, Twelve Girls Band, Radiohead, Bjork and a lot of British Indie Bands.

NSB: Do you go for film? What genres?

MCC: I am a fan of Michel Gondry, Akira Kurosawa, Wong Kar Wai and Michael Moore, and of course my docu-filmmaker friends from STexposure Kiri Dalena, King Catoy and RJ Mabilin. I watch a lot of indie films more than hollywood mainstream.

NSB: Any funny experiences while working on art pieces?

MCC: I have a habit of cleaning my art space before I paint.

And I once got caught by a policeman while doing graffiti in Philcoa overpass. We were shooting a music video for Bobby Balingit and that was the time of peasants’ Lakbayan from Southern Tagalog to DAR (Department of Agrarian Reform). The policeman confiscated my spray paint and insisted we come with him to the station. In the end, our foreign filmmaker friend talked to the police and gave him a bribe.

NSB: Anything under the sun that Ms. Cabrera can share?

MCC: Everything is a decision: being happy or sad, having a meaningful life or letting oneself be carried away by the current. (Bulatlat.com) [1]


Article printed from Bulatlat: http://www.bulatlat.com/main

URL to article: http://www.bulatlat.com/main/2009/03/28/the-red-traveler-speaks-her-mind-an-interview-with-ms-con-cabrera-of-artists%e2%80%99-arrest/

URLs in this post:

[1] (Bulatlat.com): http://www.bulatlat.com/

By Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change

First 100 days agenda: GMA, Luisita, human rights abuses. With the presidential elections now over save for the official proclamation of Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, we ask what is perhaps the same question in the mind of most Filipinos today: what can our forlorn people expect from an Aquino presidency?

The first 100 days of the Aquino administration will be crucial. This period will reveal and set the tone on the priorities of the new government as well as demonstrate the intent, if not ability, of Aquino to address the injustices that our people have long been suffering.

Thus, for the first 100 days of Aquino as President, we strongly believe that he must make considerable headway in resolving three of the gravest injustices that we face: the plunder perpetrated by Mrs. Gloria Arroyo and her cohorts; social injustice such as at the Hacienda Luisita; and the extrajudicial killings, abductions, and other human rights violations under the brutal Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) military campaign of the Arroyo administration.

By depicting himself as the bearer of genuine change, indeed as the anti-thesis of Arroyo, Aquino has raised people’s expectations of his administration. Invoking the legacy of his parents, the martyred Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory, it is reasonable to ask for tangible steps in his first three months – when and how will he investigate and prosecute Mrs. Arroyo and her cohorts in crime?

As president who claims to have the high moral ground compared to other presidentiables, how will he pro-actively ensure that the Cojuanco-Aquino clan will give up Hacienda Luisita in favor of the poor peasants and farm workers? What will he do with regard to the case of the Morong 43, Jonas Burgos, and many other victims of human rights violation under Arroyo? What will he do to make the likes of Gen. Jovito Palparan accountable for his bloody crimes against the people? Will he dismantle the oppressive Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) 2 or will he embark on an OBL 3 or similar “Internal Security Plan” that tramples on constitutionally-guaranteed rights in the name of so-called national security?

Aquino built his successful bid for the presidency on a strong advocacy against Arroyo and all that her administration represents, encapsulized in his political ads enticing Filipino voters to take the “daang matuwid” (righteous path) with him. Many Filipinos, disgruntled by nine years of grand scale corruption, abuses, and poverty under the despised Arroyo presidency, responded to his call and gave him a strong mandate to lead.

However, while corruption aggravates the people’s poverty and suffering, the basic premise of Aquino’s advocacy – that corruption is the root cause of poverty (“kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”) – must be challenged. This premise glosses over the fundamental truth that poverty is bred by age-old unjust social structures strengthened through the years by anti-people economic policies allowing a few to monopolize society’s wealth.

Such situation is clearly illustrated, for instance, at the Hacienda Luisita. Poverty will not be solved without substantial reforms in these structures and policies, e.g. genuine agrarian reform that will truly distribute vast landholdings like Hacienda Luisita to farmers and farm workers, as Pagbabago! articulated in our People’s Agenda.

The time for mere rhetoric about change and justice is now over. We who come from people’s organizations, sectoral formations and non-government organizations, who have long been fighting for genuine reforms in the country’s misshapen and undemocratic political and economic system, want to see whether Aquino’s “daang matuwid” will lead to redemption or greater perdition.

source: http://kodao.org/blog/contributor/noynoy-must-show-what-%E2%80%9Cdaang-matuwid%E2%80%9D-concretely-means

2 bets accuse military of electioneering
Nation
Written by Fernan Marasigan / Reporter
Tuesday, 13 April 2010 22:12
TWO militant legislators seeking Senate seats accused the Armed Forces on Monday of engaging in partisan politics by campaigning against them.

Party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna  is asking the Commission on Elections to look into the alleged military operation codenamed “Zero Campaign” against him and Party-list Rep. Liza Maza of Gabriela. Both are senatorial guest candidates of Nacionalista Party of Sen. Manuel Villar.

“Members of the Armed Forces is violating a host of laws, including provisions in the Constitution, by their partisan activities. Soldiers have been photographed and documented to be actively campaigning against progressive party-list groups and senatorial candidates,” Ocampo said.

He said in Davao, Agusan del Norte and surrounding provinces, the National Police and the Armed Forces are claiming that the massive deployment of troops is meant “to ensure peace and order during the elections,” but reports revealed that the police and the military are conducting house-to-house campaigning against him and Maza.

“The military troops are also flagrantly distributing black-propaganda materials against us such as fliers and miniposters. They are also calling for mass meetings on a weekly basis where we are specifically being named as those who should not be voted for,” Ocampo said.

He said the Constitution expressly prohibits civil-service officers and employees from engaging in any electioneering or partisan political activity. Section 2 (4), Article IX-B of the 1987 Constitution provides: No officer or employee in the civil service shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political activity.

He also said the civil-service laws, as well as the Omnibus Election Code, have provisions banning government personnel from involvement in partisan political activities.

“The operation is called ‘Zero Campaign’ which clearly means that the Armed Forces is plotting to ensure that we get zero votes in the provinces. Among the areas where the Zero Campaign is already being implemented are Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and some parts of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Sur,” Ocampo said.

He said the attempts of the military to demonize him and undermine his chances to win in the senatorial elections were not surprising.

“But we will not take this sitting down. We will work hard to frustrate these military operations that aim to stop progressive candidates from winning in the polls. In the meantime, the Comelec should take immediate action and initiate sanctions against the Armed Forces,” he said.

A Primer on the Illegal Arrest, Detention and Torture of 43 Health Workers

Who are the 43 health workers?

The 43 health workers, also known as “Morong 43”, are health professionals and volunteer community health workers who were arrested in Rizal on February 6, following a raid by the combined forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The 43 were part of a Community First Responders’ Health Training sponsored jointly by the Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) and the Council for Health and Development (CHD). The training was held at the residential compound located at 266 E. Dela Paz St., Brgy. Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal. The compound is owned by Dr. Melecia Velmonte, chairperson of COMMED’s Board of Directors and a renowned and respected infectious disease specialist and a professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine.

On February 6, 2010 at 6:15 am, joint elements of the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (202nd IBPA) headed by its commander, Colonel Aurelio Baladad and the Rizal Provincial Police (PNP) headed by Police Superintendent Marion Balonglong raided the l compound of Dr. Velmonte.

Among those arrested were 2 doctors, 1 registered nurse and 2 midwives and 38 volunteer community health workers.

They are :

1. Merry Clamor y Mia, 33 y/o, medical doctor, CHD staff
2. Alexis Montes y Sulinap, 62 y/o, medical doctor, Commed volunteer
3. Gary Liberal y Apuhin, 43 y/o, registered nurse, AHW
4. Ma. Teresa Quinawayan y Roncales, 26 y/o midwife, CHD staff
5. Lydia “Del” Ayo Obera, 61 y/o, AHW staff & health educator
6. Reynaldo Macabenta y Torres, 30 y/o, CHD staff
7. Angela Doloricon y Manogon, 50 y/o, health educator
8. Delia Ocasla y Medrano, 46 y/o, community health worker
9. Janice Javier y Quiatchon, 22 y/o, community health worker
10. Franco Remoroso y Bilugan, 28 y/o community health worker
11. Linda Racel Otanez community health worker
12. Pearl Irene Martinez y de los Reyes, 25 y/o community health worker
13. Eleonor Carandang y Orgena, 30 y/o community health worker
14. Danny Pi�ero, community health worker
15. Ray-om Among, community health worker
16. Emily Marquez y Manguba, 23 y/ocommunity health worker
17. Emilia Marquez y Manguba,20 y/o, community health worker
18. Jane Balleta y Beltran 27 y/o, community health worker
19. Glenda Murillo y Cervantes, 26 y/o, community health worker
20. Eulogio “Ely” Castillo, community health worker
21. Jovy Ortiz y Quidor, 23 y/o, community health worker
22. Samson Castillo y Mayuga, 42 y/o, community health worker
23. Miann Oseo y Edjao, 31 y/o, community health worker
24. Sylvia Labrador y Pajanustan, 43 y/o, community health worker
25. Lilibeth Donasco, 24 y/o, community health worker
26. Jenilyn Vatar y Pizarro, 19 y/o, community health worker
27. Ramon de la Cruz y Santos, 21 y/o, community health worker
28. Jaqueline Gonzales, community health worker
29. Maria Elena Serato y Edeo, 35 y/o, community health worker
30. Ma. Mercedes Castro y Icban, 27 y/o, community health worker
31. Leah de Luna y Bautista, 28 y/o, community health worker
32. Judilyn Oliveros Y Abuyan, 26 y/o, community health worker
33. Yolanda Yaun y Bellesa, 51 y/o, registered midwife
34. Edwin Dematera y Bustamante, 37 y/o, community health worker
35. Cherielyn Riocasa Tawagon, 31 y/o, community health worker
36. John Mark Barrientos y Roldan, 20 y/o, community health worker
37. Mark Escartin y Esperida, 20 y/o, community health worker
38. Julius Duano, 30 y/o, community health worker
39. Ronilo Espera, 31 y/o, community health worker
40.Romeo de la Cruz, 53 y/o, community health worker
41. Valentino Paulino y Abale, 35 y/o, community health worker
42. Ace Millena, community health worker
43. Lorelyn Saligumba, community health worker

Why were they arrested?

The arresting authorities claim that the 43 health workers were caught in the act of undergoing training on bomb-making and that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The arresting authorities claim to have found firearms and explosives in the premises where the 43 were staying.

The military allege that they found C4 explosives, a pistol with seven bullets, three grenades (one allegedly found under a pillow) and some improvised landmines beside the grenade. However the search was conducted without being witnessed by Dr. Velmonte, any other house occupant, or independent witnesses such as baranggay officials. According to witnesses, the military conducted the search in the compound premises only after all the victims as well as the house owners and their house help were already outside the buildings.

Were the arrests legal?

No, the arrests were illegal. These were based on a patently defective February 5, 2010 search warrant issued by Judge Cesar Mangrobang of Branch 22 of the Imus, Cavite Regional Trial Court. The warrant was issued against a certain Mario Condes of Barangay Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal on allegations of illegal possession of firearms. It did not specify any address except for the name of the barangay. The house raided was not that of Mario Condes but that of Dr. Velmonte. There is no Mario Condes among the 43 arrested.

Were there violations of the rights of the 43 health workers?

Yes, there were gross violations of the right to due process, the right against illegal searches and seizures and the right against torture.

1. Violations in securing the search warrant

As stated earlier, the search warrant was patently defective and issued with grave abuse of discretion. The warrant did not indicate any exact address and in effect covered the entire baranggay, thus violating the rights of the accused against unreasonable searches and seizures. The house that was searched was not indicated in the warrant and did not belong to “Mario Condes”.

2. Violations during arrest

The 43 were arrested without any warrants of arrest; they were not informed of the reasons for their arrest nor where they were being taken. All throughout they were denied the right to call a lawyer.

All the training participants were frisked and ordered to line up outside the house. They were immediately handcuffed, interrogated and photographed by the military. Their personal belongings were confiscated. The military used old shirts and packaging tape which they brought with them to blindfold all the participants before loading them onto several trucks.

3. Violations during detention

For five days, the 43 were denied their right to counsel During the first 36 hours of their detention, the 43 were not informed of the reasons why they were being held. They were subjected to continuous interrogation and were being forced to admit that they were members of the NPA. Their fingerprints were taken while they were blindfolded.

Only during the inquest proceedings on the second day were they finally informed of the charges being levelled against them. The prosecutor from the Department of Justice (DOJ), State Prosecutor II Romeo Senson, simply called out their names, then read the charges against them. The 43 were denied their right to counsel even during the inquest proceedings.

There were several accounts of torture and ill-treatment as attested to by the detainees and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). The AFP violated several provisions of Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Law: both physical and psychological torture were inflicted on the 43. These include: being blindfolded and handcuffed for 36 hours; being subjected to multiple and prolonged tactical interrogation with death threats, harassment and intimidation; being deprived of sleep and urgent medication; being manhandled and beaten; being denied legal counsel for days; being denied medical treatment; being coerced to wrongly make admissions and implicate others; and being subjected to various indignities during their captivity. Some were held incommunicado and some remain in solitary confinement up to now.

Some detainees who were blindfolded and handcuffed were also subjected to the indignity of having their captors lower their pants and underwear just so they could relieve themselves.

The 43 remain detained in a military camp when they should have been transferred to a civilian detention facility especially after charges were filed against them in court.

Have the 43 health workers been charged in court?

Despite all the violations of due process committed by the AFP, PNP and the DOJ, charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and violations of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban were filed against the 43 at Branch 78 of the Rizal Regional Trial Court in Morong. The charges were only filed on February 11, five days after they were arrested. Forty of the accused face non-bailable offenses (illegal possession of explosives). Clearly, the purpose of the hasty filing of said charges is to attempt to cure violations of due process and justify the continued illegal detention of the 43.

Were the health workers really members of the NPA? Were they really making bombs at the time of their arrest?

The military has made the sweeping accusation that the 43 are members of the NPA. Their proof consists of the firearms and explosives allegedly found in the premises of Dr. Velmonte. But the accounts of Dr. Velmonte and her household give sufficient ground to believe that the firearms and explosives were planted by the military/police.

Mere membership in the NPA cannot be used as basis for a warrantless arrest. Jurisprudence tells us that an overt act or an actual crime (in this case, taking up arms against the government) must first be committed to justify an arrest. There was no shoot-out at the time of the arrest; the 43 and Dr. Velmonte’s household were either doing their morning ablutions or getting ready for breakfast. It is a stretch of the imagination to claim that the 43 health workers were caught in the act of making bombs as early as 6:00 am when they were arrested.

What the military did was to fabricate and plant evidence and then accuse the health workers as NPA members, to justify their warrantless arrest and illegal detention.

The military has since concocted many versions of who the 43 really are. At first, the military alleged that the 43 were not health workers but bomb-makers. Later, the military would allege that the 43 were indeed health workers but were also undergoing training in making explosives. The military now calls them “medics” of the NPA.

The military also goes on to make the preposterous claim that Dr. Alexis Montes, a 62-year old surgeon, is a member of the NPA Special Operations Group tasked to assassinate Gen. Jovito Palparan.

According to CHR Chair Leila de Lima, even assuming for the sake of argument that the 43 health workers are NPA members, they still have the right to due process, including the presumption of innocence and the right to be free from torture and other degrading treatment.

Have the 43 health workers taken legal action? What has been done to secure their release?

The health workers through their relatives and their organizations have filed before the Supreme Court a petition for the writ of habeas corpus last February 9. The Supreme Court ordered the AFP to produce the 43 at the hearing at the Court of Appeals on February 12, 2010. The military defied the SC by not bringing the 43 to the scheduled hearing citing alleged security reasons and lack of time to prepare. The AFP received a strong rebuke from the CA and was ordered to produce the 43 at another hearing on February 15. As of this writing, the CA has yet to issue its decision on the petition.

A complaint has also been filed before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), asking it to investigate the allegations of rights abuses committed against the 43. The CHR has issued the order for the AFP to present the Morong 43 before the Commission in a scheduled hearing on March 18.

Who are supporting campaign to free the 43?

The campaign “Free the 43” is supported by a broad range of sectors of society, from colleagues in the health professions, lawyers, lawmakers, political leaders across party lines, religious formations, human rights advocates, artists, and advocates and beneficiaries of community-based health programs where the community health workers render their services. It is a national and international campaign calling on the Arroyo government to immediately release the Morong 43 and drop all charges against them. It is a campaign that supports the legal defense of the 43 and undertakes advocacy work and mobilizations. The campaign also supports the immediate needs of the families of the 43 in terms of visits, psycho-social counseling and other forms of concrete assistance.

Why are there volunteer community health workers?

In the Philippines, where seven out of 10 Filipinos die without ever seeing a doctor and where public health services are sorely lacking or inaccessible, non-government organizations (NGOs) like CHD and COMMED play an important role by bringing health services to the people. This means that these non-government organizations try to reach poor and underserved communities, set up community-based health programs, organize health committees, and train community health workers (CHWs). This way, the poor people living in urban and rural areas can attend to their health needs in the absence or dearth of government services.

For 37 years, community-based health program practitioners have been training volunteers who would like to become CHWs regardless of their educational attainment. CHD, for example, has trained tens of thousands of community health workers nationwide. Training participants are selected by the people themselves with little regard to their educational and socio-economic background nor their religious or political beliefs, so as long as they commit themselves to serving the people in their communities.

The Community First Responders’ Health Training is one of the courses CHD offers to community health workers. The training is in response to the assessed needs of the communities after the disastrous effects of the lack of disaster preparedness in the wake of tropical storms “Ondoy” and “Pepeng”. The community health workers are also the frontliners in providing health services during disasters, so additional health skills are needed for them to be able to respond adequately, especially since many communities have no access to government health services.

Is this the first time doctors, health workers and volunteers have become victims of human rights abuse?

No, there have been similar attacks against health workers in the past. These can be better understood in the context of the government’s counterinsurgency programs, most especially the Arroyo regime’s US-supported Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) or Operation Freedom Watch.

The illegal arrest and detention of 43 doctors and health workers is directly linked to OBL. The latter has given rise to a rash of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, illegal arrests and detention and mass displacement of poor communities. Under OBL the military has been given a carte blanche by the Arroyo regime to disregard the most basic tenets of due process and human rights. For the AFP, once a person is accused of being an “insurgent” or “terrorist”, he or she is guilty until proven innocent. This is the kind of militarist mindset that the Arroyo regime has in pursuing its counter-insurgency program.

The military has a track record of targeting several other doctors and health personnel.

Just recently, on February 23, 2010, Ronald Capitania, a community health worker of Sipalay, Negros Occidental was shot by two unidentified bonnet-clad men on a motorcycle. Luckily, he survived the attack.

On February 11, 2010, Benjei Faldas, a community health worker in Davao del Sur was reportedly charged with frustrated murder following the wounding of a CAFGU member in an encounter with the New People’s Army. He is prevented from performing his duties as a community health worker.

In July last year, Dr. Reynaldo Lesaca Jr., a respected psychiatrist at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute and chairperson emeritus of the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), filed a complaint before the CHR regarding his inclusion, together with four Davao-based doctors, in the military’s “Order of Battle” thus making him vulnerable to being targeted for “neutralization” by military and paramilitary “death squads”.

This was a month after another Davao-based physician, Dr. Rogelio Pe�era, was shot and killed by motorcycle-riding assailants near his house in Davao City.

In 2008, Dr. Oliver Gimenes, a community-based doctor serving farmers’ communities in Cebu and Bohol, was placed under surveillance by the military and was vilified as a “rebel sympathizer”. He was later charged with murder in a questionable criminal case stemming from an NPA raid of a military detachment.

In 2007, sisters Emilia and Maricris Quirante, both community health workers of Guihulngan Mountain Clinic in Negros Oriental were arrested for trumped-up charges of child abuse and rebellion.

In July 2006, unidentified armed men ambushed Dr. Chandu Claver and his family in Kalinga province. The attack killed Dr. Claver’s wife, Alyce, seriously injured Dr. Claver himself, and traumatized their young daughter.

These attacks share several characteristics: they are politically-motivated; they are directed against those who serve poor communities or underserved sectors; the government attempts to justify these attacks by red-baiting the victims; and they have all been all perpetrated with impunity.

As the government’s self-imposed deadline to defeat or “render inconsequential” the communist-led armed revolutionary movement draws near, the military will even be more hard-pressed to show results. Thus, human rights violations are bound to continue and even escalate.

What are the implications of the arrest of the 43 health workers?

The illegal arrest, illegal detention and torture committed against the 43 health workers by the AFP are clear violations of human rights. The methods resorted to by the military are clearly unconstitutional, show a blatant disregard for the rule of law and pose a grave threat to ordinary Filipinos everywhere.

This incident is disturbing for health professionals and health science students as it imperils the people’s initiatives and efforts to build their own capacity and capability to manage their health needs in the absence of adequate public service.

For health professionals who may be considering the option of public service, this incident has a chilling effect. For the community-oriented academe, this single act of the military could undo decades of encouraging graduates to stay in the Philippines and create the necessary exposure and experience in community-based health trainings

This will deprive the people of much needed health services which will worsen the already deplorable state of health.

What are our demands and calls?

The campaign “FREE THE 43” demands the immediate and unconditional release of the 43 health workers who were illegally arrested in Morong, Rizal and are currently illegally detained in Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal. We also demand that all the false charges against them be dropped.

We hold to account all the government officials involved in the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the 43 including those who have command responsibility over the military and police forces directly involved in the incident.

The complaint filed before the CHR states those responsible as:

“The President of the Republic of the Philippines herself, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is primarily responsible as Commander-in-Chief under the principle of command responsibility because she knew or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have known that the state forces were committing or about to commit the crimes stated in this complaint.

The public officials and cabinet secretaries also responsible for gross violations of Constitutional rights following the doctrine of command responsibility include National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, the Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno.

Meanwhile, the public officers who are also exercising command responsibility over the 202nd IB, 2nd ID PA and the Rizal Provincial Police, PNP and directly responsible for the illegal search, illegal arrests, physical and mental torture and other blatant violations of the Constitutional rights of the 43 doctors and health workers are Gen. Victor Ibrado, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, the Commanding General of the Philippine Army; Lt. Gen. Roland Detabali, Commanding General, SOLCOM, Philippine Army; Brig. Gen. Jorge Segovia, Chief of the 2nd Infantry Division, Philippine Army; Col. Aurelio Baladad, Commander of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army; Lt. Col. Jaime Abawag, Commander of the 16th Infantry Battalion; Philippine National Police Director General Jesus Verzosa; and P/Supt. Marion Balonglong of the Rizal Provincial Police.

In the same vein, the Honorable Judge Cesar Mangrobang is also responsible for the issuance of the bogus and constitutionally defective Search Warrant that the military and police officers used to justify the raid of the farmhouse located at 266 Dela Paz St., Brgy. Maybangcal, Morong, Rizal.

State Prosecutor II Romeo Senson, the Department of Justice Prosecutor who conducted the defective inquest of the 43 doctors, nurses and medical workers and issued the Resolution indicting them with trumped-up charges, and Senior Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Severino Ga�a, the reviewing prosecutor who signed the findings of Prosecutor Romeo Senson, and Department of Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera are accountable for their complicity in the efforts to legitimize the military and police’s commission of human rights violations.”

We demand an end to the counter-insurgency program OBL, which has targeted unarmed civilians accused of supporting the NPA, in the name of fighting insurgency.

We call on freedom-loving people to make a stand for human rights and condemn in the strongest terms the human rights violations perpetrated with impunity by the Arroyo government.

(This primer was prepared by Free the 43 Health Workers)

Article printed from Bulatlat: http://www.bulatlat.com/main

Staff of US solon seek information on ‘Morong 43’ case

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:46:00 04/10/2010

Filed Under: Congress, Military, Human Rights

THE CASE OF THE “MORONG 43” HAS gotten the attention of a United States congressman.

According to two independent sources, two senior members of the staff of US Rep. Howard Berman were in the country recently to look into the Maguindanao massacre when they learned about the case of the Morong 43.

Berman, a Democrat representing the 28th District of California, was recently named chair of the influential House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

His two staff members, a man and a woman, spent two days in Davao and one day in Manila gathering information on the election-related killing of 57 people, half of them journalists, in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao last year.

Later, the two staffers, sought more information about the continued detention of the Morong 43 and the allegations that they had been tortured.

“They were very surprised to find out all these things about the case,” said one source, who declined to identify the persons who briefed the congressional staff members on the case.

Berman’s staff reportedly said that they would brief Berman and review the Morong 43 case with the congressman.

The 43 health workers were arrested by the military on Feb. 6 in a rest house in Morong, Rizal, where they were purportedly attending a seminar on community health care.

The military, however, said they found guns and explosives at the seminar site. The military claimed the health workers were members of the outlawed New People’s Army (NPA), the guerrilla arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Charges of illegal possession of firearms have been filed against them.

Earlier, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it had found evidence to support claims of torture.

Five of the 43 detainees have reportedly admitted to being members of the NPA.

The military transported 38 of the 43 detainees to Camp Crame in Quezon City from Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal, on Friday in line with a Morong court order. But the police refused to take them in, saying that their detention facility was full.

In a statement yesterday, CHR Chair Leila de Lima criticized the failed hand-over of the detainees by the military to the police, saying that both uniformed agencies were below par “in terms of criminal procedure and respect for human rights.”

“These two institutions are demonstrating a serious deficiency of coordination,” De Lima said.

She said there was no legal basis for the continued detention of the 43 in a military camp nor was there a legal basis for the PNP to refuse to take them into custody.

there is another trend of repression in the Philippines by the means of forced disappearances.
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In 2005 Filipino-Americans has showed their concern on the rise of political killings that was happening in the Philippines.

The U.S. Military joined forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to do anti-terrorists exercises in the Philippines because of the declaration of being the 2nd front for terrorism. With the Balikatan exercises the U.S. will give a few million dollars to the Philippines government for hosting these counter insurgence programs.

These programs has produced a large amount of causalities of innocent victims: students, teacher, lawyers, activists, peasants and more. Noticing the increase of political killings, Filipinos and  Filipino-Americans  took action by holding a showcase that brought awareness to their peers that these killings are being sponsored by the U.S. government. A few thousand of people took action by signing petitions and sending it to the senators and congressmen.

With the raise of concern from the American public the political killings slumped down.
After the decline of political killings dropped the new trend of state repression in the Philippines has  moved onto forced disappearances. Witnesses have seen people being snatched away by men heavily armed in black with masks on.

The disappearance of Jonas Burgos, son of Joe Burgos a journalist during the Martial Law Era, brought out International Concerns when Edith Burgos, his mother, did a speaking tour in the U.S. a few years ago.

Currently, there has been a small spike in political killings with the recent count of 1,118 Political Killings and 204 forcibly disappeared.

The Amputuan massacre of journalists and innocent civilians has brought President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to lower a curtain of Martial Law on Maguindanao.  The history of martial law in the Philippines brought a lot of casualties. Thousands for Filipinos and Fil-Ams has expressed their concern that lots of people could lose a lot, especially if the whole country goes into martial law. The raising of martial law brought forward a coalition called NEVER AGAIN TO MARTIAL LAW.

Many Filipinos and Filipino-Americans still keep an open eye  out for human rights violations that are happening in the Philippines. Artists both in the Philippines and in the U.S. has organized an artshow called Factsheet. The art pieces highlight a few of the human rights cases that KARAPATAN has filed.