The FREE THE 43 HEALTH WORKERS! ALLIANCE hits the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on its latest pronouncement that it is committed to protect human rights and it welcomes the move to bring the Morong 43 case before an international forum.
“What respect for human rights is the AFP talking about?” asks Dr. Julie Caguiat, spokesperson of the Free the 43 Alliance. The AFP blatantly violated the basic human rights of the 43 health workers when on February 6, 2010, they illegally arrested, detained and tortured the doctors, nurse, midwives and community health workers. The AFP planted guns and explosives at the health training site. The military denied the right of the health workers to counsel and doctors of their choice for the first three days.
Though the military has continued to deny the allegations of illegal arrests and torture, a medical report by an independent group of physicians last February revealed that there were indeed signs of physical and mental torture. For 36 hours under detention, they were continuously blindfolded, handcuffed and interrogated. The military had to put down and bring up their under wears every time they had to go to the toilet. Dr. Alexis Montes, the detained surgeon himself testified before the Court of Appeals that he was electrocuted and was exposed to a certain chemical.
In a recent media report, the AFP claims to be open to any “legitimate investigation of the incident”. But the military defied orders of the Court of Appeals and the Commission on Human Rights to bring the 43 health workers to Court and the Commission hearing. They, likewise, defied the order of the Morong Regional Trial Court to immediately transfer the 43 health workers to Camp Crame, a civilian custodial facility.
“All the enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and illegal arrests went unpunished, giving rise to a culture of impunity that characterized Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s government. The AFP has absolutely lost its credibility through its distortion of truth, its track record of lies, atrocities and barbaric acts; such is the commitment of the AFP to human rights”, said Dr. Caguiat.