Vancouver MLA Calls on Canadian Government to Condemn Illegal Arrest and Immediate Release of Morong 43
Canada asked to condemn illegal arrest and immediate release of health care practitioners.
Vancouver-Kensington MLA condemns abduction of 43 health workers, doctors in Rizal
The eyes of the world is on Vancouver, Canada because of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Today, however, an MLA from Vancouver also wants people around the world to turn their sights halfway around the globe into the serious violations of people's rights by the Philippine authorities against its own doctors, nurses and community health workers.
Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver-Kensington today expressed outrage over the illegal arrest and detention of 43 health workers and doctors, known as the “Morong 43”, in the Philippines.
In her letter to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Elmore cites her alarm over reports that the detainees were subjected to various forms of torture and sexual harassment.
The Morong 43 were abducted around 6:15am from a conference facility in Morong, Rizal last February 6th. The participants were in a First Responders Training sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation (Commed) and the Council for Health and Development. The health practitioners were forcibly taken by 300 heavily armed soldiers who produced a fake warrant of arrest. They were taken and blindfolded by soldiers the 202nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army and Rizal Philippine National Police to Camp Capinpin in Taytay, Rizal.
Official reports by the Health Alliance for Democracy revealed that the detainees were handcuffed and blindfolded for 36 hours after being brought to Camp Capinpin. At the Camp, they were confined in dark cells and forced to listen to gunfire. At night, the detainees recounted that men would enter their cells to punch them and take their pictures.
The reports further revealed that they were interrogated without benefit of counsel, subjected to some form of sensory deprivation and overload and forced under duress to admit that they are members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Relatives of the detainees and the Commission for Human Rights were initially denied access to the detainees by the military at the Camp.
“These are all very disturbing violations of the basic rule of law (such as invalid search warrant, denial of access to legal counsel and a doctor) and fundamental human rights,” said Elmore.
“This event is inexcusable and combined with the massacre in Maguindano, it’s important that we all speak out and advocate for these victims. We need to take steps to ensure everyone’s basic human rights are observed,” she added, noting reports of how the Arroyo administration often tramples on the rights of those who criticize it.
Elmore forwarded her concerns to the Canadian government and is calling on Canada to condemn the illegal arrest and immediate release of all detainees. The MLA also called on the international community to increase pressure on the Philippine government to take immediate and concrete steps to stop and prevent such human rights abuses and election-related violence. The Philippine is holding a national election on May of this year.
Elmore also said that the upcoming International Observers Mission (IOM) for the Philippines’ national elections in May is an opportune time for Canadians to become involved in efforts to safeguard democracy and human rights in the Philippines.
Locally, the Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights is organizing a Canadian contingent, which will include legislators and other advocates, for this IOM.