Presidentiables challenged on arrest of 43 health workers
KATRIBU MEDIA RELEASE
QUEZON CITY — A sectoral party of indigenous peoples challenged presidential candidates to reveal their respective positions on the pressing human rights issue of the day – the plight of the 43 health workers illegally detained in Camp Capinpin, Rizal province.
“If you were President, how will you address the issue head-on?ÿh asked Beverly Longid, KATRIBU Partylist President.
Longid observed that presidential candidates hardly speak in the campaign trail about the plight of the detained health workers, let alone extra-judicial killings.
“Yet human rights should be a defining issue in these elections. Let their stand on the issue be a barometer of their commitment to human rights,” she remarked.
Katribu is set to launch a ‘score board’ that will gauge the sincerity of the presidentiables to uphold and defend human rights using their positions on hot human rights button issues as indicators. The issue of the forty-three health workers is one such indicator identified.
Free our “katribus,” free the 43
Revealing that two of the detained health workers are indigenous peoples, Longid called upon the presidentiables to support the campaign to immediately free our ‘katribus’ (fellow indigenous persons) and free the forty-three.
The detained indigenous health workers are Angela Doloricon, an Igorot, and Ray-om Among, a Mangyan, from the Kankanaey and Hanunuo tribes, respectively.
Longid, who belongs to the same tribe as Doloricons, said “Our communities in Mountain Province and abroad are already asking why nothing is being heard about the condition of their detained kailian (village or provincemate).”
“The kin and tribe of Ray-om must also be very worried by now as her indigenous group is also a close-knit lot,” said Longid, who is also extending support to the Mangyan detainee.
Longid warned that the state forces could be impinging on the indigenous peoples rights as guaranteed by the International Declaration of the World’s Indigenous Peoples which the government acceded to in 2008.
“We fear that they are not only being tortured mentally or physically but also discriminated against on account of their distinct identity and socio-economic status, a matter that indigenous peoples are so sensitive about,” Longid said.
In an TV interview, Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ 2nd Infantry Division, claimed that the detained health workers generally had low educational attainment, citing this as a reason to brand them rebels.”
“Such remark is discriminatory and insensitive to marginalized sectors such as indigenous peoples. It is precisely government’s neglect to provide basic services such as education and health that drove the health workers to serve poor communities. Now such State neglect becomes the crime of the health workers?” Longid lamented.
“In fact, the circumstances of the health workers and their grassroots beneficiaries provide the presidentiables a glimpse not only into the political and civil but also the economic, social and cultural dimensions of the state of human rights of the country they want to lead,” Longid said.
Voice to the voiceless
Longid urged all presidential aspirants to use the campaign trail as platforms to amplify the plight of the poor and oppressed sectors of our society such as indigenous peoples.
All cameras and microphones follow you. Use them to give voice to the voiceless and make visible the invisible sectors in our society,” she said.
Silence on human rights issues is not only deafening. It can also be draconian,” Longid added, citing as an example the inaction of the Arroyo administration on the issue and its “dreadful track record in dealing with other human rights violations.”
Longid said that the public needs assurance from every presidentiable that under his or her leadership, the culture of impunity that Arroyo nurtured must be stopped.
On day one of the next presidency, the people do not want to see even the slightest fragment of Arroyo’s draconian and despicable shadow,ÿh she stressed. # nordis.net