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To: The Philippines Government & Governments of Germany and U.S.
From: The undersigned advocates of acupuncture

We, the undersigned communities and advocates of acupuncture, strongly condemn the Philippine police and military's illegal raid and abduction of 43 community health workers, acupuncturists and doctors who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines on Saturday, February 6, 2010. The health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD).
According to reports by the media and the human rights alliance Karapatan, approximately 300 soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Rizal Philippine National Police (PNP) forcibly entered the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte at 6:15 AM. The training participants were then lined up, violently frisked, blindfolded, and taken to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, AFP. Their personal belongings, as well the training materials used, were all confiscated by the military.
The health workers have been held incommunicado, and have been denied their right to legal counsel. A team from the Commission on Human Rights was also blocked from seeing the detainees. After three days later and after a stubborn insistence by the Chairman of the State Human Rights Commission, Leila De Lima, succeed that the arbitrary detention ("Morong 43") at least 30 min. from relatives and friends could be visited. Most reported having been physically and psychologically tortured in the meantime, in order to extort confessions under duress.
In news interviews, Lt. Colonel Noel Detoyato, the spokesman for the Philippines Armed Forces 2nd Infantry Division, justified the arrest on absurd grounds that the health workers possessed acupuncture needles and had low educational background.
We refute the validity of military representatives who call acupuncture needles a trademark of armed rebel groups. Acupuncture is a legal and accepted practice in the Philippines. We affirm the role of acupuncture protocols in providing health care in all sectors of society, especially the poorest areas of the world including the Philippines, where a shortage of doctors illuminate severe health disparities and community workers prove vital to health care delivery and prevention. Health and acu workers like the detained 43 health workers have historically been unjustly targeted, harassed, restrained and arrested because they serve the poor and the underserved. These illegally arrested health workers are among the first responders that have tirelessly served the communities affected by the flooding and landslides in the aftermath of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year.
Later, Eduardo Ermita, Ex-General and Acting Executive Secretary of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato spokesman for the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army,proclaimed that the 43 people had been arrested because they were members of the New People's Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). The detainees had thus not attended a health training but had been informed by experienced NPA cadres in handling munitions and explosives. Finally were found weapons, hand grenades and explosives on the estate of Dr.Velmont. This was immediately objected by the witnesses who had seen that a systematic search of the house had only taken place after all attendants had been removed. Witnesses also observed how the military short before carried heavy plastic bags into the house.
We are deeply concerned for the safety of these healthcare professionals who have committed their lives to serve the underserved communities in the Philippines.
We support the following demands so that they can immediately return to their families and the communities that they serve without further violations of their human rights.

1. The immediate release of the health workers who are illegally arrested and illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.

2. The government must ensure the safety of the victims and that they are not harmed; their belongings be returned immediately to them.

3. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will investigate the raid and illegal arrest of the health workers conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal.

4. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders, community health workers, and acupuncturists as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
5. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments' provisions.

Sincerely,


TCM Social Forum / Germany

AGTCM- Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Klassische Akupunktur und Traditionelle Chinesische Medizin e.V. / Germany

CRREW - Community Relief & Rebuilding through Education & Wellness / USA

 
 

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