February 24, 2010 in Featured
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
Phot by Aldwin Quitasol
BAGUIO CITY — The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said that the arrest of the 43 health workers last February 6 is part of the Arroyo administration’s so-called anti-insurgency campaign targetting progressive organizations and government critics.
According to CHRA Secretary-General Jude Baggo, the illegal arrest and the continuing detention of the 43 health workers came some weeks after Department of National Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales announced that they will end the communist insurgency in the Philippines by June 2010. This, Baggo said, marks the end of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term. Her administration seeks to accomplish its goal through its Operation Bantay Laya (OBL).
Baggo added that it is a national policy that labels legal organizations such as the Community for Health and Development and the Community Medicine Foundation (COMMED) and other progressive organizations rendering free services to the people who were mostly victims of government neglect as sectoral fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New Peoples Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (CPP-NPA-NDFP).
Baggo said that this led to the outright human rights violations of the 43. He also said that the stae policy of Oplan Bantay Laya laid the framework behind the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and assault on legal progressive people’s organizations since 2001.
According to the statement of CHRA, an earlier attack against one of the members of the health sectors in the Cordillera region happened in July 30, 2006 in Tabuk, Kalinga. Dr. Constancio Claver was with his wife and daughter when his vehicle was fired upon by suspected state security forces . He and his nine-year old daughter survived but his wife, Alyce Omengan Claver, died form multiple gunshot wounds.
He and his wife are also members of Bayan Muna Partylist (BM) and Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA). The rights group said this happened after Dr. Claver received a series of threats and was subjected to surveillance for their stand on human rights issues such as the extrajudicial killingg of CPA leader and Kalinga BM coordinator Markus Bangit. They were also tagged as members of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“Even here in the Cordillera region, our health workers experience also harassments and threats as they perform community health services. In the interior parts of the region, they are surveilled, questioned and are surreptitiously photographed by the military,” said Baggo.
Meanwhile, the Community Health Education, Service and Training in the Cordillera Region (CHESTCORE) reported that just last February 10, 2 staffmembers of the Mobile Nursing Clinic (MNC) of the Saint Louis University (SLU) who were with 2 Swedish exchange students of the same school were accosted by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP). The 4 were coordinating a presentation of MNC entry plans with the members of the council in one of the municipalities of Benguet. A lady police officer told them that her “boss” wanted to get their names and ask them their purpose of going to the area. The police told them that they are on red alert since the arrest of the 43 health workers.
Baggo said healthworkers are not the only ones being targetted in the OBL, but also members and leaders of progressive organizations like James M. Balao. Balao, who is a founding member of the CPA, was a victim of enforced disappearance since September 17, 2008. Until now, Balao remains missing to this day.
According to Baggo, anybody who is critical to the government’s anti-people policies is considered by the government as enemy of the state. Once declared as such, the person is considered fair target for assault , abduction, torture and killing, by state security forces.
“We stand in solidarity with the 43 health workers being illegally detained in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal as they bear the Arroyo government’s political persecution against those who tread areas where there are no or very limited government health services to provide service to the people.
We demand their immediate relaease. They do not deserve to stay a day longer in Camp Capinpin to be tortured and their rights be violated further,” said Baggo.
Baggo urged the public, especially the members of the healths sectors, to protest the human rights violations and hold accountable the state especially Arroyo and Gonzales who should strongly be compelled to respect its obligations to the Filipino citizen. #nordis.net