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Health group assails AFP witch-hunting

Contributed to The Pamalakaya Times

Manila, Philippines- “The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is on a witch-hunt in its desperate attempt to showcase any success of Oplan Bantay Laya!”

Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) directly linked the illegal arrest and detention of 43 doctors and health workers to the Arroyo regime’s counter-insurgency campaign, which over the years have targeted civilians rather than armed groups.

“After blatantly disregarding the most fundamental tenets of due process, the AFP now has the gall to prop up false charges against those whose basic rights they have violated,” said Dr. Geneve E. Rivera, HEAD Secretary-General.

HEAD is reacting to reports of the AFP information office that the raid conducted last Saturday in Morong, Rizal is “the biggest arrests of communist rebels in memory”. The AFP further alleges that Dr. Alexis S. Montes is a member of a special unit of the New People’s Army formed to liquidate former AFP general, Jovito Palparan.

“The lies being peddled by the AFP cannot hide the atrocities they have committed,” declared Dr. Rivera. “The so-called ‘NPA training camp’ is a family rest house of a respected medical consultant that has been used many times for parties and training of health workers and even medical students from various schools.”

“Dr. Alex Montes of Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED) is also a known surgeon and an elder of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). He received his medical degree from the University of the East College of Medicine (Class 1976) and has since been active in community service such that he was the UCCP national coordinator for health services for twenty years (1986-2006)!”

According to HEAD, the mild-mannered and soft-spoken Dr. Montes is a far cry from the communist assassin that the AFP paints him to be.

Aside from Dr. Montes, the AFP also arrested Dr. Merry Mia of the Council for Health and Development (CHD). The 34-year-old doctor finished medicine at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila in 2001 and has been a community physician of the Council for Health and Development (CHD) since 2004. She is also the mother of two young boys, one of whom is only 11 months old.

The two doctors were actively involved during the relief operations after Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. As such, they headed the “First Responders Training for Life Support” aimed to enable communities, through health volunteers, to be able to respond in times of calamities.

“Yet instead of recognizing their contribution and sacrifice, these people are being vilified and demonized by the AFP,” added Dr. Rivera. “Military officers like Brigadier General Jorge Segovia, Colonel Aurelio Baladad, and Lieutenant Colonel Noel Detoyato are worse than criminals for the sheer number of laws they violated in conducting their illegal arrest and detention.”

“The arrogance being shown by the AFP is reflective of the utter lack of respect for basic human rights by the Arroyo regime,” concluded Dr. Rivera, “As the end of OBL II draws near, state security forces are hard-pressed to show results.”

“The only thing they have now is their crimes against the Filipino people.

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