Philippines: Les aventures d'Émile

Les aventures d'Émile, un Montréalais de 20 ans, nous tiennent en haleine depuis qu'il est parti en voyage de solidarité internationale aux Philippines au début de février 2010. Faites de surprises, de découvertes du pays et de ses habitants, et de découverte de soi, ses lettres éloquentes nous font revivre nos propres expériences et renouvellent nos attaches à ce pays du sud-est asiatique. Le Centre d'appui aux Philippines a facilité son séjour.

Bye-bye "confort occidental"

Le 14 février 2010

Lettre à mon père,

J'ai eu une première journée à Manille assez "rock'n roll"! En arrivant à l'aéroport, je disposais d'une feuille avec une adresse écrite dessus, celle du "Bayan office". Bayan est une organisation progressiste qui s'occupe de coordonner les efforts et actions de plusieurs groupes d'activistes, c'est "the umbrella organisation" comme ils disent ici. J'étais supposé m'y rendre pour rencontrer Rita, la femme qui s'occupe des relations internationales. J'ai donc pris un taxi pour m'y rendre. En chemin, j'ai pu constater le chaos absolu qui règne dans cette ville de Manille. Evidemment, comme bien des pays en Asie, la circulation se fait de manière un peu aléatoire, les voies de circulations ont l'air d'être là pour décorer.

Cliquez ici pour lire la suite des Aventures d'Émile

Philippines: the adventures of Emile

We look forward to reading the latest letters from Emile, 20, a Montrealer on his first visit to the Philippines. He has kept us smiling and occasionally in stitches since he left for Manila in early February 2010 and we asked if we could share his letters with you, which he has gladly accepted to do. His "exposure" to the realities of the country and its inhabitants are filled with surprises, discoveries... and plenty of self-discovery, as you will see. They allow us to relive some of our own past experiences as first time visitors to this amazing country, and to renew our ties to its wonderful people. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we have. The Centre for Philippine Concerns facilitated Emile's trip to this South East Asian country.

For short excerpts in English of the original letters in French click here

To read the letters in the original French please click here


On-line petition to request permanent residence status for Prof. Jose Maria Sison

To the International Coordinating Committee and Member-Organizations of the International League of Peoples' Struggle

Dear Friends,

We, the International Committee DEFEND, are requesting you to sign the online petition addressed to the Dutch government for the granting of permanent residence to Prof. Jose Maria Sison, chairperson of the ILPS.

We also request you to urge your friends and allies who are respected individuals or officers and members of other organizations to sign the petition.

For the purpose of signing the petition, please visit either the following websites/url:

http://www.josemariasison.org/ (this carries articles related to the petition) http://www.petitiononline.com/JSdefens/petition.html

Thank you for your cooperation.

Yours in solidarity,

Ruth de Leon

International Coordinator

International Committee DEFEND

Feature radio interview: on movements in Manila

by Stefan Christoff

Hope that you are all doing well, thank you for all your support and interest towards the 'on movements in Manila' photo exhibition at Kaza Maza throughout February, still there is opportunity to view the exhibition until the end of February at Kaza Maza, 4629 avenue du Parc, Montréal.

Also wanted to let people know that there is going to be a feature radio interview produced by Liz Pieries about 'on movements in Manila' broadcasting, Monday, February 22, 2010 on the Monday Morning After on CKUT radio at 7:30 am, tune-in in Montreal at 90.3fm or globally at http://www.ckut.ca/

Additionally in case you missed the opening for the exhibition at Kaza Maza, CKUT radio has uploaded the presentations by human rights observer Laura Cliche on the massacre of journalists in Mindanao, Philippines last fall and the reading from celebrated Filipino author Miguel Syjuco, author of the forthcoming book Illustrado...

* CKUT | Montreal Launch: Movements in Manila Photo Exhibition
* Kaza Maza
* Stefan Christoff is posting to the world wide web at


Demand the Immediate and Unconditional Release of the 43 Healthcare Workers!

Feb 16th, 2010

Dear Friends,

I want to urge you to help us in the effort to demand that the Philippine military release the 43 healthcare workers that were illegally arrested and detained on February 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal, Philippines.

This issue is close to my heart because I know what it feels like to be held incommunicado, in solitary confinement, denied of my right to legal counsel, and denied access to my family and loved ones. I know what it feels like to be blindfolded and handcuffed, threatened, and not knowing what will happen next. I also know what it means to be tortured. It is as harrowing of an experience as it is traumatic.

Just a few weeks ago I was in New York City to talk about my experience of abduction and torture perpetrated by the Philippine military and to condemn the continuing human rights violations in the Philippines. Now there is news again of the arrest of the 43 healthcare workers, amongst them doctors and nurses. This just shows that the Arroyo government has every intention on escalating the violence against the people and committing gross human rights violations.

These doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers are the ones that go to poor and underserved communities and volunteer their time to provide much needed healthcare services and have saved lives. They are health workers affiliated with the Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD). They help train healthcare workers and they work with Community Based Health Programs (CBHPs) that have been present in most parts of the rural communities all over the Philippines since the 1970’s. CBHPs are present in areas where government services lack or are simply nonexistent. They provide primary healthcare and train and organize communities to set-up alternative healthcare systems that are people-managed and self reliant.

The Philippine government has paid back their thanks to these doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers by arresting, detaining, and torturing them. To justify their acts—despite the invalid search warrant and pretense used to raid the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte where the health training was held—the military has accused the healthcare workers of being NPA rebels. It seems that every time the Philippine military is caught committing human rights violations they label anyone “NPAs” and plant evidence and witnesses against them to file false criminal cases. As if this would justify the torture and the violation of their rights, but the fact is that regardless, they are still protected under the Geneva conventions and International Human Rights Laws.

The military is getting caught in its web of lies and deceit in their attempt to justify the illegal arrest, detention, and torture of the 43 healthcare workers. This allows them to continue to act with impunity and to target civilians and anybody that is critical of the government. This incident further shows the arrogance, brutality, and ruthlessness of the Arroyo government.

It is reported that some of the 43 healthcare workers, 26 of whom are women, have experienced sexual abuse while detained. Also, when the Philippine military finally presented the 43 healthcare workers before the Court of Appeals on February 15, 2010 due to the petition of habeas corpus filed by the families of the 43 and the mounting public pressure, Dr. Alex Montes gave his testimony. He described the inhumane conditions he endured, about being handcuffed and blindfolded for 36 hours, held in solitary confinement, and not being able to utter another word after being asked how this experience has affected him, witnesses said he returned to his seat seemingly broken.

I am afraid for what Dr. Montes was unable to say, and about the other torture he and others probably endured. After all, he still has to go back to the military camp after his testimony and he is still at the mercy of his captors. Let us prevent any further violation of his rights, let us demand the end to the torture of the 43 healthcare workers and demand their immediate release.

No one has been prosecuted for human rights violations and the Philippine government continues its brutal policy unabated even as international condemnation of the Philippines for its gross human rights record has been expressed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other international bodies. What is especially disturbing to me is that our taxpayer dollars here in the United States are being used to fund and train the Philippine military who is guilty of committing these human rights violations. We can say “no to more human rights violations in the Philippines” by saying “no to more military aid” and urging our government to cut military funding to the Philippines. We can also bring these human rights violations and the case of the 43 healthcare workers to the attention of our local representatives and Senators by writing to them and signing petitions like the one below.

The 43 healthcare workers include doctors like Dr. Montes and Dr. Merry Mia Clamor who chose to stay in the Philippines instead of going abroad. In a country where 7 out of 10 Filipinos do not even see a doctor before they die, and where the majority of the people lack access to public health services and facilities, these doctors and healthcare workers that have dedicated their time and skills to serve the poor and marginalized communities of the Philippines are doing their heroic duty and sworn mandate to serve and attend to the medical needs of the poor and the most vulnerable in society. They deserve not only our praises, but they need our continued support and our outcry for justice.


Melissa Roxas

RE-POSTED FROM: http://justiceformelissa.org/

Please sign the petition:

For more information and to find out what you can do please visit:


43 health workers enter court handcuffed to soldiers

Update in fight to free the 43: first-hand report on Court of Appeals hearing held February 15, 2010

by Renato Reyes

When the 43 arrested health workers were brought to the auditorium of the Court of Appeals, each was handcuffed to a soldier. If they were going to the rest room, they would be accompanied by the soldier assigned to them. Only when they enter the rest room would their handcuffs be removed. This went on for some time, before lawyers asserted that the handcuffs be removed and the detainees allowed to confer with their lawyers and family members.

It was almost 3pm when the hearing started. Atty. Romeo Capulong raised his objection to the handcuffs on the detainees even while inside the court room and the inability of the lawyers to properly confer with their clients. He asked the justices not to allow Martial Law to be imposed inside the court.

As they entered, some detainees managed to smile and raise their clenched fists to the family members and supporters inside the court room. I saw one detainee try to hug his wife, even while he was seated and handcuffed to a soldier. As they hugged, the soldier was right there beside them.

Atty. Capulong also moved that the detainees be transferred from Camp Capinpin to Camp Crame because of the many cases of ill-treatment and difficulty of lawyers to access their clients. The Court said it would deliberate on the motion at the appropriate time.

Thus the hearing for the petition of the writ of habeas corpus began. The presiding justice asked if the 43 were present inside the court room. Another justice asked that all detainees stand so that they may be counted. The 43 stood, all of them accounted for.

Atty. Capulong then asked the court if he can begin the presentation of evidence and witnesses. This was objected to by the Assistant Solicitor General who said that the habeas corpus hearing was not the proper venue to hear evidence pertaining to the conditions of confinement or if there were improprieties in the arrest.

The judge eventually ruled in favor of the petitioners and allowed the presentation of one witness, upon the request of Atty . Capulong. The 43 were also allowed to submit their affidavits detailing their arrest and detention.

The Assistant Sol-Gen asked for a “concession” from the court by asking the media to leave the room and to hold the hearing under executive session. The presiding judge ruled that the hearing was a public hearing and that the media is allowed to cover the event, minus cameras.

Dr. Alex Montes takes witness stand

Dr. Alex Montes, 62-year old surgeon and one of the trainers in the health seminar was called to the witness stand. He gave an account of his arrest and the events since he was brought to Camp Capinpin.

He said that at around 6am, an undetermined number of soldiers barged into the resort owned by Dr. Melecia Velmonte. They were taken by the armed men but were not informed of their offense. The armed men proceeded to the conference room, he said. He described the situation as disorganized, with people running all over the resort. He was later handcuffed and blindfolded and led to vehicle. The arresting officers did not inform his of why he was being taken or where we was being taken. He said they traveled for an hour and a half.

Atty. Capulong asked him what the effects of the handcuffs and blindfolds were on Dr. Montes. He said that he could not walk alone, and had to suffer the indignity of having someone else lower his pants and underwear for him to be able to pee.

Among other things, Dr. Montes related that he was handcuffed and blindfolded until early evening of February 7 (nearly 36 hours) when he and the others were subjected to inquest proceedings. The inquest appeared to be a farce since they were only called out one by one, informed that they were being charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and afterwards, the prosecutor from the Department of Justice left.

Dr. Montes said during interrogation, he was brought outdoors to what appeared to be some cliff or inclined plane. He was repeatedly asked questions about his alleged affiliation with the NPA. During several sessions, he was asked if he knew Tirso Alcantara or Ka Bart. His interrogators said they saw him in Luneta, meeting with two other people, talking about military strategy. They said he was part of the Military Commission of the NPA.

Dr. Montes did not eat from the time he was arrested (Feb.6), up to the time his blindfold and handcuffs were removed (Feb.7) . He believed that the drinks given to him were laced with some substance because he could feel them around the mouth of the cup.

When Atty. Capulong asked him of his current detention status, Dr. Montes said that he remains under solitary confinement, only getting some 15 minutes of sun the past two days. He does not get news from the outside world, and visits have certain restrictions.

Finally, Atty. Capulong asked Dr. Montes how this whole ordeal has affected him. It was at this point that Dr. Montes looked up and appeared unable to continue, almost on the brink of crying. He was assisted back to his seat.

The counsels for petitioners and respondents were given 48 hours to file their respective memorandums and then the case is considered submitted for decision within a week.

Protestors great 43 with noise barrage

At the hearing, most of the 43 were in high spirits. When they left the room, some of them waved goodbye then raised their clenched fists, a sign of their continuing defiance. As they left the CA compound, they were greeted by a noise barrage from the protesters outside. The grounds of the CA was turned into a virtual garrison with troops carrying long firearms scattered all over the place.

The police had to push back the rushing mob who wanted to get a glimpse of the 43 health workers. It took some time for the buses to be able to leave the CA compound as protesters were gathered outside.

We ended the rally outside after I gave some updates on what transpired inside the court room. Right now, our lawyers have their work cut out for them. The next 48 hours will be very important for the case. In the next nine days or so, we will know if the petitioners will get the relief that they petitioned for.

We call on our friends here and abroad to intensify the calls for the release of the 43. We hope that the CA will issue a favorable ruling so that in the near future, the 43 will regain their freedom, be reunited with their families and continue with their work.

In a statement to the media, General Jorge Segovia of the 2nd Infantry Division now says that the 43 are indeed health workers, but that they belonged to the NPA and are part of the “health bureau”. He described this as a “superbody” that is the equivalent of the Department of Health in the revolutionary movement. This after the AFP insisted that the 43 were being trained to build bombs instead of undergoing a health seminar.

The AFP is now caught up in its own lies.

Renato Reyes is the secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or New Patriotic Alliance.


CAP-CPC condemns abduction and torture of 43 health workers in the Philippines; demands their immediate release

The Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns in Montreal joins with the member organizations of the Philippine Solidarity Network - Canada and BAYAN Canada to denounce the abduction and torture of 43 health workers and doctors in Rizal, Philippines.

This appears a repetition, on a massive scale, of the 2009 abduction and torture of Melissa Roxas, a health worker from the U.S. who was released only after widespread public pressure. It also comes in the wake of the bloody massacre late last year of 57 people - including 30 journalists - in Ampatuan, Mindanao, where the police, military and private paramilitary have been implicated.

In the lead up to the May Presidential elections it seems that the military, police and the private death squads have received a green light to attack, harrass, abduct, torture and even kill members of the progressive, pro-people forces in the Philippines, or anyone who dares to question the authority of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her cohorts.

This is clearly President Arroyo’s bloody counter-insurgency program Operation Plan Bantay Laya 2 in action. And it is all carried out in a climate of almost total impunity - the torturers and killers knowing they can literally "get away with murder". Only now, over two months after the Ampatuan slaughter, have murder charges finally been laid against 197 people, including policemen, soldiers and government-financed paramilitaries. The big question, given the Philippine government's record, is: "will justice truly be served"!

The depths to which the regime of Madame Arroyo will dip to stay in power seem to have no limits. It is becoming difficult to believe the Philippine government is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a party to all the major Human Rights instruments. It seems Malacanang believes they are not worth the paper on which they are written.

The CAP-CPC joins with other forces in demanding :
1. The immediate release of the health workers who are illegally arrested and illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.
2. The Philippine government ensure the safety of the victims and that they are not harmed; their belongings be returned immediately to them and those involved in their torture should be arrested and face criminal charges.
3. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into raid, illegal arrest and reported torture of the health workers conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal.
4. A stop to labeling and targeting of human rights defenders by the military as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”

Vancouver Health workers condemn abduction and torture of 43 health workers in Philippines

Organizing Centre for Social and Economic Justice
672 E. Broadway
Vancouver, BC, Canada
V5T 1X6

February 8, 2010

Ambassador Brilliantes
130 Albert Street, Suite 606
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1P 5G4

Dear Ambassador Brillantes,

I am writing on behalf of the Organizing Centre for Social and Economic Justice, an alliance of grassroots community organizations with hundreds of members in Vancouver, Canada, to convey our strong condemnation of the abduction of 43 health workers by the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police on February 6 in Rizal, Philippines.

This criminal abduction, and the baseless and slanderous accusation that these health workers are ‘enemies of the state’ or involved in some kind of criminal activity, are an affront to people everywhere concerned with peace and social justice. The health training which was being conducted in Rizal is part of the ongoing work of legal and legitimate health organizations in the Philippines who work tirelessly to improve the health of poor and marginalized communities throughout the country.

As health workers, community organizers, union members, students, and concerned community members we join the call for the AFP and PNP to immediately and unconditionally release the abducted health care workers and cease and desist the labelling, harassment and intimidation of progressive organizations and individuals engaged in grassroots health work and advocating for social justice in the Philippines.

We ask you to convey our concerns to the appropriate authorities in the Philippines.


Beth Grayer
Zailda Chan
Aiyanas Ormond
Martha Roberts
Dave Hendry
Erika Fuchs
Azar Mehrabadi
Rocio Vasquez
Yuly Chan


Background information:

Media Release

09 February 2010

“AFP Tortured Detained Doctors and Health Workers” - HEAD

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) strongly condemned the torture perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines on 43 doctors and health workers illegally arrested and detained since Saturday.

“Based on accounts by the detainees, the AFP has subjected them to various forms of torture and sexual harassment,” said Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General. She was among those who accompanied Commission on Human Rights Chair, Atty. Leila de Lima, who visited the detainees yesterday.

The illegally detained health personnel were handcuffed and blindfolded for more than 36 hours after being forcibly brought to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade. They were also denied food and even bathroom privileges.

“They were not allowed to go to the bathrooms on their own, and their custodians were the ones who removed their underwear every time they had to urinate,” added Dr. Rivera. “A female health worker complained that a female custodian was even the one who washed her genitals after she used the bathroom.”

Family members cried openly when they were finally able to see their loved ones. Yet Colonel Aurelio Baladad did not even let this pass and taunted them by calling them “paid actors who are not really relatives of the detained”.

According to accounts by the relatives, the detainees were subjected to hours of interrogation despite their demands for legal counsel. The pregnant women were not spared.

Confined in dark cells and forced to listen to sounds of gunfire, the detainees were also forced to admit that they were members of the New People’s Army. They were not allowed to speak to each other and every night, they were slapped several times.

“One of the detained men already had sore arms and wrists from being tied down for so long,” added Dr. Rivera. Some had their pictures taken without their consent.

Dr. Alex Montes, who is already 60 years old, was electrocuted and repeatedly hit on the chest while being questioned. The pain was so much that after several hours, he was willing to admit to anything if only to end the brutal punishment he was receiving.

“The mental and physical torture inflicted by the AFP is inhumane and criminal. That they can do this to the very people who care for our lives and well-being speaks volumes as to the kind of soldiers and officers the military establishment employs,” added Dr. Rivera.

“We live in a time when civilian authorities under its chief executive, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, provide the military and police implicit consent to conduct the worst forms of abuses on the people.”

“This is worse than the Marcos dictatorship. This is Oplan Bantay Laya, Mrs. Arroyo’s legacy of counter-insurgency aimed at civilians, especially those who serve the poor and those who are critical of her regime.” ####


Dr. Geneve E. Rivera
Secretary-General, +63920 460 3712

Dr. Darby S. Santiago
Chair, +63927 473 7700


Exposition de photos - Mouvements à Manille - au Café Kaza Maza à Montréal


-- avec conférence par Miguel Syjuco, auteur philippin primé

-- et présentation par Laura Cliche, de retour d'une mission d'enquête autour du massacre à Ampatuan aux Philippines.

Mouvements à Manille
exposition de photos par Stefan Christoff au Kaza Maza
jeudi, le 4 février, 2010 18h - 20h
Kaza Maza, 4629 Avenue du Parc
(au nord de la rue Mont-Royal)
Montréal, Québec

* Miguel Syjuco, originaire de Manille réside à Montréal depuis trois ans. En 2008, son premier roman, Ilustrado, a gagné le prix le plus prestigieux de l'Asie, le Man Asian Literary Prize. Ilustrado sortira en mai 2010 dans 16 pays et 12 langues. http://www.syjuco.com/

* Laura Cliche, étudiante en maîtrise à l' Université de Montréal, revient d'un séjour de cinq mois aux Philippines. Elle y a été stagiaire avec la National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). Elle a eu l'occasion de participer à une mission international d'enquête et de solidarité suivant le massacre d'Ampatuan, ou 57 personnes ont ét brutalement assassinées, inclant 32 journalistes. Elle a pu rencontré les survivants et les familles des victimes, des membres du gouvernement et des journalistes locaux. De retour à Montréal, elle travaille avec les militants d'ici pour exiger que justice soit faite pour les victimes, et pour réclamer une fin aux assassinats politiques aux Philippines.

En même temps, vous aurez l'occasion de visiter l'exposition de photos de Stefan Christoff, prises lors de son voyage aux Philippines en 2007 pour participer à la Mission internationale d'observation.

KMU invites you to its 26th International Solidarity Affair

01 February 2010

Dear comrades and friends:

Warmest solidarity greetings from Kilusang Mayo Uno!

We would like to invite you to participate in the 26th KMU International Solidarity Affair (ISA) to be held in Manila, Philippines from 29 April 7 May 2010. The ISA is an annual gathering of workers, trade unions, labor rights advocates, and friends and supporters of the working class in Asia and the Pacific, Middle East, Africa, Europe, North and Latin America.

The theme for this year is Jobs for All, Not Jobs for Profit: The Crisis of Imperialist Globalization and the Continuing War on Terror.

The 26th ISA takes place in an era of continuing struggle for decent wages, jobs, rights and social justice amid the impacts of the global financial and economic crisis on the workers. Governments and capitalists sing in unison that the worst is over and that the global economy is on the way to recovery. Yet, the crisis continues to take its toll on the people and there are no real signs that the situation is going to get better in the next few years.

This time, more than ever, there is a need to discuss imperialist globalization and its destructive effects on labor.

By destruction, we mean the destruction of jobs and labor rights the right to decent wages, the right to assembly, the right to collective bargaining, the right to unionize. Destruction also means the violent attack on workers - the overt and covert intimidation of unionists, organizers and trade union rights defenders, the presence of police and military in our workplaces and communities, and the abduction and killings of trade unionists and workers.

Locally, the 26th ISA also occurs in one of the exciting but dirtiest times in the country - the election season. The national elections takes place on May 10. A Peoples International Observers Mission (PIOM) has been formed to monitor election fraud, help thwart violence and protect the Filipino peoples votes. KMU supports this initiative and we encourage our ISA delegates to also join us in this endeavor.

As the imperialists consolidate their ranks to protect their profits amid the global financial crisis, we the workers must likewise heighten our solidarity and struggle. By leaps and bounds, we must grow in strength and advance our struggle for national liberation, genuine democracy and socialism.

Last year, delegates from 18 countries gathered at the 25th ISA to celebrate 25 years of working class solidarity. Delegates passed a resolution to build a broad anti-imperialist labor solidarity that aims to gather trade unionists, workers and labor advocates in common actions against imperialist crisis, plunder and war. This year, we hope to come up with concrete plans on how to move forward in establishing such solidarity.

Please join us in this important affair. Thank you and we hope to hear a favorable response from you.

Yours in working class unity,

Elmer Labog

Tess Dioquino 
International Department Secretary