We, the illegally detained community health workers, say it again that we are not spared from Gloria Arroyo’s most vicious and cruel government. The Filipino people have already judged the most hated Arroyo regime. As her reign will end on June 30, 2010, we wish to inform our local and international supporters that as community health workers who are witnesses to the sufferings of the poor and marginalized people in our country that have worsened during the Arroyo regime, we will carry on our struggle for our rights, justice, and freedom.
We are witnesses to the poor and oppressed families who are deprived of the fruits of their labours because they did not own the parcel of the land they till. We are witnesses to the cries of the people who are hindered to bring their sick loved ones to the hospital or even to buy the necessary medicines because of their extreme poverty. We are witnesses to the children who are forced to work in the farms who are supposedly seen in the classrooms.
It is ironic however that because of our desire to help these poor and oppressed families by carrying out a health education on healthy treatment of symptomatic ailments, we are languishing in jail. While undergoing health skills training, combined military and police forces raided the training centre we had rented, and handcuffed, blindfolded, tortured, and illegally detained us in detention cells inside the military camp. Though, we were already transferred from the military camp to the jail administered by civilian authority, we declare that our human and constitutional rights were grossly violated.
Without a lawyer of our choice, we are falsely charged of having participated in “bomb making training” and “illegal possession of firearms.” If we possessed those firearms, we could have fought for our way out. But our blood pressure apparatuses and medical instruments have not much to their high-powered rifles and armoured tanks. We did not squarely face them because we are unarmed community health workers who just want to serve the poor and the marginalized in the communities in our country. At that time of our abduction, we had no choice but to submit ourselves and endure the cruelties inflicted to us by our tormentors.
To boast for the “good” results of the counter-insurgency program of the Arroyo regime dubbed as Oplan Bantay Laya, the state forces exhibited us in public as medical officers and staff of the New People’s Army. We vehemently deny this accusation. We are community health workers who just want to share our knowledge, skills, and talents with the poor people in the different impoverished communities in our country.
Our plight now as detained community health workers is not separated from the plight of the Filipino people. In serving the poor communities, we have seen the injustices being experienced by the poor families who could not afford to earn a living and eat full meals in a day. Our heart breaks with the poor parents who cannot send their children to school and force them to work at an early age just to augment the income of their parents. We cannot help but to be angry in witnessing people who cannot afford to buy necessary medicines for their sick loved ones or bring them to the hospital.
As of now, we stand firm with our resolve to serve the poor while demanding the jail authorities to solve the problem of the poor ventilation of our small cells. We are also coping with poorly cooked and low standard food being served to us. We share our hope to our fellow prisoners charged of common crimes that someday they will also enjoy complete freedom from their inhuman conditions. Sometimes, we cry because of our ordeal, but we are happy because our loved ones and friends are with us. With clinched fists, we are shouting for justice and call on the new regime to set free the 43 health workers and all political prisoners in our country.
In our continuous call for justice and freedom, we are elated that you work and struggle for our immediate freedom. Your continuing support in our struggle strengthens our resolve to steadfastly serve the poor communities in our country.
We are prepared to face the hardships inside the jail. We are also prepared for a long battle in the court of justice. We can do this because our families, friends, and supporters take up our struggle and the struggle of the poor and oppressed people in our country and of the people around the world. We really feel this warm and strong solidarity.
We, the 43 health workers, express our heartfelt gratitude to you, our supporters. We wish you to continue your (moral, political, material and financial) support. Again, thank you!
We have received the following request from Fr. Dionito Cabillas of SELDA (Society of Ex-Detainees for Liberation and Amnesty) and Karapatan. Fr. Dion was the head organizer of the foreigners' visit to the Morong 43 during the recent People’s International Observers Mission to the Philippines. He appeals to Canadians to help the families of the detainees with materials and money, along with continued advocacy until their Supreme Court decision.
Fr. Dion said, "They are also anxious of the sustenance of their families left at home without a breadwinner. Thus, we appeal to our friends here and abroad to continue in their gathering of financial and material support for the Morong 43."