AFP Using PNP as Scapegoat for Violations, Says Health Group

Media Release
20 March 2010

The Armed Forces of the Philippines is now using the Philippine National Police as a convenient scapegoat for their illegal raid and human rights violations.

According to Health Alliance for Democracy, the AFP is desperately trying to justify the illegal raid they conducted last February 6 in Morong, Rizal, which led to the illegal arrest, detention, and torture of 43 health workers. 

“The AFP has previously insisted that the raid was legitimate by virtue of a warrant that was to be served by the PNP. However, such excuses have cast the PNP in a bad light by showing them to be either totally inept or mere subordinates of the military,” said Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD secretary-general.

Recent statements made by PNP Director General Jesus Verzosa directly contradict claims made by military officers that the raid was a “police operation”. His statements on the search warrant also reveal that the police had very little control of the February 6 raid, which explains the blatant human rights violations and wanton disregard for due process and standard operating procedures. 

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“The alleged warrant is crucial to the lies being peddled by the military because they have used it since day 1 to show that they ‘respect’ the rule of law,” added Dr. Rivera.

“Now, it is not just the legitimacy of the warrant but the raid itself that is being put in question. By the sheer volume of violations committed by the raiding party that day, it will appear that the PNP does not even know how to conduct an arrest. At least, that is what the AFP is making it look like.”

The statements of Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesperson of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, also reveal that the military had absolutely no intentions of following due process and merely used any warrant to justify their actions.

“If the military operation’s real targets were the so-called rebels, as Lt. Col. Detoyato admitted, then theirs was not a police operation as they earlier claimed,” added Dr. Rivera. “The military only used the warrant, and the PNP, to justify why they launched an attack on unarmed civilians.” 

For HEAD, statements of PNP also belie claims by the military that the reason why the 43 remains in their custody is because the PNP has no adequate facility. “Such lame excuse is passing the buck of inefficiency to the PNP.”

Now, the AFP is again using alleged statements, supposedly from the Department of Health and other medical groups, to lend credence to their accusations that the 43 are rebels.

“The 43 are health workers. No amount of accusations or concocted stories made against them will negate this simple fact.”

“Instead, by the PNP statements, the detainees should be immediately released, since there is obviously no due process followed in their arrest and detention. Even the police acknowledge that!” concluded Dr. Rivera.
Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, Secretary-General, HEAD 
Dr. Darby S. Santiago, Chair, HEAD

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