March 20, 2010
On its regular monthly gathering this month, the Victims of Arroyo regime United for Justice or HUSTISYA and the families of the 43 health workers held a mass action in front of the gate of Camp Aguinaldo to protest the continued illegal detention, torture, pressure and harassment of the 43 health workers illegally arrested on Feb 6 in Morong, Rizal.
“The military has detained the 43 health workers for 43 days now. Since day 1, my sister went through a lot – harrasment, interogation and torture. The military has been pressuring her to turn against the others. I pity my sister and I am scared for her. I am angry at the military for doing this to her and our family. Aren’t they the protectors of the people?” asked Junie Pizzaro, brother of Jenelyn Pizarro, one of the five who the military claimed had “confessed” to be New People’s Army members.
For years the AFP had detained, tortured and forced victims to “confess” as NPA members, to admit crimes they did not do just so the government can present “accomplishments” in its counterinsurgency program, said HUSTISYA spokesperson Evangeline Hernandez.
“This is what they have done to Luisito Bustamante, Ruel Muñasque and other victims of abduction, illegal arrest and torture. They were threatened and they had feared for their lives so much that some agreed to toe the line of the military,” said Hernandez.
On March 18, the Commision on Human Rights led by CHR Chair Leila De Lima held a hearing to investigate the alleged human rights violation against the 43 health workers. In an act disrespectful to the constitutional body, the AFP did not bring with them the detainees. Instead there were only Col. Aurelio Baladad, Lt. Col Jaime Abawag of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, and Police Superintendent Marion Balonglong at the hearing.
At the CHR, Col. Baladad and Lt. Col. Abawag, under oath, denied the earlier statement of the military that they led the raid in Morong. The AFP had awarded the two officers the Bronze Cross Medal in relation to the illegal arrest of the 43.
“The AFP’s refusal to present the 43 and their arrogance during the hearing only shows how they define “civilian supremacy” and “democracy.” It is the people who and which is the essense and at the core of democracy, the very people whose rights they attack,” said Hernandez.
In protest and condemnation of the continuous illegal detention and harrassment of the 43 and the continuous violation of the rights of the people and impunity, Hustisya together with the families of the 43 gave a special award to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, DND Secretary Norberto Gonzales—the brains behind Oplan Bantay Laya — former AFP chief of staff Gen Victor Ibrado, current Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. General Delfin Bangit , Philippine National Police Chief, Director General Jesus A. Verzosa, Brig. General Jorge Segovia, Lt. Col. Cristobal Zaragosa, Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, Col. Balabad and Lt. Col. Abawag—the implementors of Oplan Bantay Laya and responsible for the illegal arrest and detention of the 43.
“ We award this bronze swastika cross to them, the enemies of the people for their dedication to their sworn duty to implement Oplan Bantay Laya at all cost, violate the rights of the people to the fullest, and defend “her excellency” Gloria Arroyo to the end,” stated Hernandez while giving the award.
“Given these circumstances, we the families of the victims of Arroyo, would at all cost, struggle for justice and end impunity,” added Hernandez.
Evan Hernandez, HUSTISYA