By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — Another health worker has been charged with rebellion and accused of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).
A week before eight of the 43 health workers collectively known as the Morong 43 filed a case against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the torture and other human rights violations they suffered during their arrest and detention, another staff of a community-based health program of a Lumad organization in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte was arrested on April 25, 2012.
According to reports from human rights group Barug Katungod Mindanao, Helen Igloria was arrested in her own home by some 20 members of the Philippine National Police and the Military Intelligence Group operating in the area. It said that soldiers and policemen arrested the health worker who now remains in detention at the Tangub Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Jail in Tangub City in Misamis Occidental trial for murder charges and direct assault.
The 56-year old Igloria is an administrative officer of the Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (KALUMARAN) and its Community-Based Health Services and a founding member of the women’s group Gabriela in Zamboanga del Norte.She is the latest among 32 women political prisoners arrested and are still currently detained under the Aquino government.
Bangud Katungod Mindanao slammed Igloria’s arrest, saying that health workers are still targets of the Aquino administration’s military forces. It also said that Igloria’s arrest and the false charges against her were part and parcel of the government’s continuing attacks against human rights advocates and activists.
For its part, another human rights organization Tanggol Bayi said the entire process of Igloria’s arrest consisted of many human rights violations. The group’s spokesperson Cristina Palabay said the arresting officers did not read Igloria her rights and neither did they inform her regarding the charges against her.
“There was no subpoena or warrant. These are clear violations of the rights of arrested persons. This is a clear indication that the policy and practice of filing fabricated cases against women human rights defenders continue under the Aquino administration, contrary to claims by the government that the human rights situation has improved under Aquino’s watch,” she said.
According to reports, Igloria, 56 years old, is the administrative officer of kalumaran’s health program since 1990. She suffers from hypertension.
AFP arrests civilians in Nueva Ecija
In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has also released a petition for the release of five civilians including a minor whom it said were victims of arbitrary detention in Nueva Ecija. The group is calling on the Benigno Aquino III administration to immediately study the case of the civilians and order their immediate release. The AHRC said the victims were illegally arrested for criminal charges, which are based on evidence taken from a search conducted under questionable circumstances. The charges have no real evidence to support the prosecution of a case against them.
Around 4 p.m. last March 28, 2012, two teams of soldiers in full combat uniform rode a military truck and a passenger jeep toward the adjacent villages of Polilio and Sto. Niño, Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija. In Polilio village, the soldiers went straight to the residence of Ambrocio Ileto, a member of Anakpawis Partylist.
Ileto was not at home at the time, but her daughter Rachelle Ann, was. Terrified of the 20 or so soldiers who suddenly barged into their homes, she took her one-year-old son and ran out of the house. When outside, she heard three shots ring out.
Rachelle ran inside a neighbor’s house and saw the soldiers emerging from her father’s house. It was discovered that newly-arrived soldiers were firing their weapons as they arrived. They had gone directly to the house of Ambrocio’s brother, Elpidio which was in the neighboring Sto Nino village. At the time, Elpidio had three visitors, Efren Delalamon, Andres Ely and Carla Bautista.
Delalamon tried to run, but the soldiers began firing. He was hit on his right arm and left side of his body. As soon as he fell to the ground, the soldiers rushed to him and handcuffed him. They took him to the side of Elpidio’s house where he found Ely, who was also tied up with a nylon cord and lying flat on the ground.
In the meantime, the woman, Bautista, had been taking a bath outside the house when the soldiers began firing. She was immediately surrounded by soldiers as she left the bathroom.
Delalamon is a former political prisoner released in 1 February 2011 after another court dismissed murder and attempted murder charges filed against him. Bautista is an assistant program coordinator of the Nueva Ecija Community-Based Health Program (NECBHP). Ely is a peasant organizer.
The entire time, the original target for arrest Ambrocio was tending to his vegetable farm which was in Sto. Nino and also near Elpidio’s house. He was found by the soldiers and was immediately handcuffed. His nephew and Elpidio’s son, Jan Michael, who was just leaving the house was also tied up. Delalamon, Ely, Jan Michael, and another resident were made to stay flat on the ground. The soldiers pushed Ambrocio into a car and took him to his house. There the soldiers began taking their personal and medical equipment, which included a blood pressure monitor, eyeglasses and hypertension medicine.
The soldiers also reportedly ransacked the hut behind Ambrocio’s house where they scattered the belongings of his son, Ronald, and his family. They also took a wallet containing P 16,500 S391).
The wounded victims were taken to the hospital and afterwards turned over to the Cabanatuan City police headquarters. The soldiers left on the evening of March 29.
That same day, the commanding officer of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army Colonel Hilario Vicente C. Lagnada, issued a statement that five persons were arrested after figuring in an armed clash against a platoon led by a Capt. Noel Wamil. The military was supposedly backing up a police team serving a warrant to search an “NPA hide-out” in Sto. Niño village.
Charges were filed against Ely, Bautista, Delalamon and the Iletos. They were accused of rebellion and violation of the Human Security Act of 2007. Ely was also charged with illegal possession of explosives. Delalamon and Ambrocio were charged with illegal possession of firearm and ammunitions. Ambrocio’s brother, Elpidio was among those charged with violation of the Human Security Act, along with five other John Does.
In the joint affidavit of arrest made by six police officers, it was alleged that the police seized P164,000 ($3,886) in cash, a baby Armalite with a magazine and 27 pieces of ammunition from Delalamon; a belt bag containing a hand grenade and “revolutionary demand letters” signed by a certain “Ka Gregorio Lapuz” were allegedly seized from Ely; while a bag containing several subversive documents was allegedly seized from Bautista.
On April 2, during a a visit from their lawyers and relatives, the detainees reported that a total of P 239,000 ($5,663 ) and some personal items were taken from them. The soldiers took Delalamon’s money worth P60,000 ($1,421) as well as medication for his diabetes and hypertension; P95,000($,2251.18) from Bautista which she said she only borrowed, as well as her wristwatch; and Ely’s money amounted to P84,000 ($1,990).
The two families of Ambrocio and Elpidio reported that the soldiers stole two wallets containing some P16,700 ($395.73 ), a child’s coin bank, pots, at least two hammocks, eight kilos of dried fish, medicine and a Nokia N70 cellphone.
Elpidio’s two elder daughters, reported that their two youngest siblings aged three and five, became feverish after the incident and were completely traumatized. Elpidio has since gone into hiding after being sought out by soldiers and charged with rebellion. One of the accused, the 17-year-old Jan Michael was also detained in a detention cell together with adults. He was found to be showing signs of trauma and depression.