By Bb. Joyce Cabral and Sarsi Pimentel
Manila, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) accused on Saturday intelligence elements identified with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) based in Batangas of harassing clients of 43 health doctors and health workers arrested by the military in Morong, Rizal four weeks ago.
Quoting a report filed by its regional chapter Pamalakaya-Timog Katagalugan (Pamalakaya-TK) and staunch ally the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the intelligence unit of PAF were trying to implicate Kasama-TK chairperson Guillermo Bautista and Pamalakaya-TK Southern Tagalog secretary general Isabelo Alicaya to the so-called Morong 43.
“According to the report, the air force intelligence group branded Bautista and Alicaya as comrades and members of New People’s Army in Batangas and they name dropped one of the arrested health workers as source of information,” said Hicap.
The Pamalakaya leader said Bautista and Alicaya are indigent clients of doctors and health workers arrested by the Philippine Army about a month ago while conducting a health seminar inside a resort in Morong, Rizal. “They are not NPAs. They are regular clients of the arrested 43 health workers, nothing more, nothing less,” stressed Hicap.
In the same report, the regional offices of Kasama-TK and Pamalakaya-TK said on Feb.21, two PAF men escorted by a local village councilor Aquilino Limeta along with Oscar Derain and an unidentified male, believed to be working with intelligence unit of PAF went to Barangay Calayo, Nasugbu and subjected Bautista’s wife about her husband’s whereabouts.
The report also said the three men persistently asked the peasant leader’s location. When his wife refused to divulge Bautista’s whereabouts, Derain bluntly declared that he is the “Supremo” of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Batangas. The intelligence officer claimed that the information directly came from the confession of the health workers who belonged to the so-called “Morong 43”.
Derain visited the house of village councilor Roniel Asahan the next day and declared the same statement to Asahan’s mother. On a separate incident, Mandy Limeta, a resident of the village was asked “what was he up to” and was accused of being a “comrade of the 43” by Derain.
“This long running criminal monster known as PAF is again on the loose to attack the indigent clients and poor people’s communities serviced for free by the 43 health workers the military had illegally arrested and detained and perennially tortured since day 1 of the political and military kidnapping of these 43 noble people,” said Pamalakaya.
The militant group said the Commission on Human Rights should also investigate the PAF in Batangas for sowing state terror and unbridled violations of human rights of poor farmers and fisherfolk who are all-season clients of 43 health workers. “The CHR should also look dispatch a probe team to undertake an investigation about this broad daylight terror by the PAF,” added Pamalakaya.
Meanwhile, the head of the European Union delegation to the Philippines assured the group that is following the case of 43 arrested doctors and health workers attentively and closely to make sure the human rights of detainees are fully respected in accordance with the law.
EU ambassador to the Philippines Alistair Macdonald in a letter dated March 2, 2010 and addressed to Pamalakaya leaders Hicap and Salvador France said few days after the arrest of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal, the EU Commission to the Philippines immediately raised human rights issue to CHR chair Leila de Lima.
MacDonald’s letter was in response to the February 13 letter of appeal by Pamalakaya sent on February 13 urging EU to withdraw the P 270 million human rights grant to the Philippine government with respect to combating extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country.
But the head of the EU delegation clarified that the EU-Philippine Justice Support Programme (EPJUST) was not a financial grant to the Philippine government but a technical assistance program, providing expert advice and training with a view to assisting Philippine society including civil society groups and the CHR and address the long standing scourge of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. MacDonald said the funding which covers the costs of the technical assistance is managed by the EU Delegation in Manila.
“I do believe that this programme has very important contribution to make, in helping all stakeholders in the Philippines, including civil society and the CHR to bring an end to this grave problem,” the EU delegation chief said.
Pamalakaya said the EU delegation at least recognized that the issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance of political activists are major human rights concerns in the country.
In its letter to MacDonald dated February 13, Pamalakaya said, “Honorable MacDonald, late last year the European Union granted the Philippine government a total of P 270 million in total aid to improve its human rights record and make progress in the campaign to end the political culture of state repression prevailing under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But the noble purpose of the grant courtesy of European taxpaying public is blatantly violated by the Manila government and the Philippine military with the fresh wave of attacks against political activists, human rights defenders and people centered advocacy groups”.
The group added: “Sir, the unlawful and brutal arrest and detention and torture of 43 doctors and medical volunteers who conducted a health training seminar last week aimed at improving their free services to indigent and poor Filipinos by state security forces is enough ground for EU to suspend if not withdraw the human rights aid given to the Philippine government. The situation merits the immediate and unconditional suspension if not total withdrawal of the P 270 million human rights aid to the Arroyo government.”
Pamalakaya noted that despite a Supreme Court order compelling the Philippine Army to produce and present the 43 arrested doctors and health personnel, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) refused to yield the live bodies of the arrested doctors and health workers. This is not only a direct of contempt, but a complete disregard of justice system in the country; with that chilling message that one is above the military as if a de facto military junta exists over and above the Supreme Court and the justice system in general.
“The tales of horror and stories of extreme state terror and brutality as collectively and individually recalled by doctors and medical personnel are sufficient enough to convince the European Union not only to recall the P 270 million human rights aid to Manila, but also to censure or reprimand the Philippine government for reneging its promise to make the country a better place for human rights advocacy,” the group said.
Pamalakaya told the EU delegation chief the 300 Army and their superiors who ordered the illegal arrest and detention and serious infliction of mental and physical pain to 43 health workers are ruthless, insane and blood hungry people, and awarding this republic of torturers and human rights violators millions of pesos worth of grant is like endorsing their passion for all-out violations of human rights and civil liberties.
The group asserted the Philippine government did not use the EU money to improve and defend human rights. On the contrary it spent the money to continue its perpetual violation of guaranteed constitutional rights and civil liberties with impunity. “The EU taxpayers’ money is spent by the national security gangland for the legal offensive of Malacanang against political activists and members of opposition groups exposing and opposing the crimes of the de facto military junta in Malacanang”, said Pamalakaya. #