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.”

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