Abduction by Soldiers, Police of 42 Doctors, Health Workers Denounced

Media Release
06 February 2010

HEAD Slams Abduction of Doctors and Health Workers in Morong, Rizal

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) strongly condemned the illegal raid and abduction of 42 community health workers and doctors who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal early today.

Around 300 soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Rizal Philippine National Police and headed by Colonel Aurelio Baladad and Police Superintendent Balonglong, respectively, forcibly entered the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte around 6:15 this morning. The training participants were then lined up, frisked, blindfolded, and forcibly brought to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, AFP.

“We denounce the illegal raid and violent abduction perpetrated by the Rizal-PNP and AFP-SOLCOM against medical personnel,” declared Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General. “We hold the Arroyo government fully accountable for whatever happens to our colleagues.”

“The raiding team used bogus search and arrest warrants, and disregarded the rights of Dr. Velmonte, who owns the property,” added Dr. Rivera.

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Velmonte is a renowned and respected infectious disease specialist and her farmhouse is the regular venue of health trainings, with participants coming from both the communities and the academe.

The health workers are volunteers who provide health services to poor communities, while the doctors are community-based medical practitioners working for different non-government organizations (NGOs). Their personal belongings, as well the training materials used, were all confiscated by the military.

HEAD believes that state security forces are doing everything to sow disorder and instigate turmoil that will be used as excuse to impose martial law and further vilify progressive organizations.

“The persistent attempts to link the participants to the New People’s Army are obvious efforts to discredit legal organizations that have been critical of the Arroyo regime.”

“The military and police remain the biggest violators of human rights in the country. We demand the immediate release of our colleagues!” concluded Dr. Rivera. ####

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