HEAD: A Complete Reversal

Media Release
February 22, 2010

Statement on the Commemoration of EDSA People Power I

Today, as the nation commemorates the historic EDSA People Power I uprising, the continuing illegal detention and torture of 43 health workers by the Philippine military stands as a manifest and complete reversal of everything that EDSA I stood for.

While EDSA I ended the Marcos dictatorship and all its attendant evils, the Arroyo regime has restored much of these. Patronage politics and crony capitalism are stronger than ever, albeit called by other names.

Imeldific dinners and lavish spending abroad hog the headlines, while more than half of the population goes hungry. Institutions and processes of our so-called democracy are undermined for political exigencies.

Over the last nine years, we have witnessed not just the decline of our social landscape but also the growing ascendancy of military rule.

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Today, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police continue to disregard the basic tenets of due process and defy even the highest courts of the land. Today, these state security forces remain the top human rights violators in the country.

Today, like the 43 health workers, everyone and anyone can be their victim.

Anyone can be arrested arbitrarily, handcuffed, and blindfolded for almost two days. Anyone can be deprived of sleep, subjected to hours of interrogation, and denied legal counsel. Anyone can be tortured and harassed sexually while under detention.

Anyone, like the 43 health workers, can subjected to the worst forms of abuse and humiliation simply by being accused, through lies and fabricated evidence, as a New People’s Army member.

All of these are with the blessings of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, AFP commander-in-chief and highest-ranking civilian authority. Hers is a rule marked by everything that was abominable with the Marcos dictatorship: unbridled greed and corruption, insatiable lust for power, and utter dependence on the armed strength of state security forces.

Today, it is not enough that Filipinos live “lives of quiet desperation”. Regardless of what we are doing, we live under the naked power of the military, like a sword over our heads.

The continuing detention of the 43 health workers is an irony, if not a tragedy, that highlights the meaninglessness of any commemoration of EDSA People Power I. The innocents who suffer will earmark our government’s backward march to history.

This kind of existence is unacceptable. We demand change. We demand respect for our basic liberties and fundamental rights. We demand an end to martial rule.

Free the 43 health workers now.

Dr. Geneve E. Rivera

Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos

Dr. Darby S. Santiago

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