The Medical Action Group (MAG) expresses its concern and at the same time, strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest, detention and harassment of forty-three (43) physicans, nurses and health workers last Saturday, February 6, who were participating in a health training at a farmhouse in Morong, Rizal.
According to the information received, the arresting team lead by Col. Aurelio Balalad of Rizal Philipipine National Police (PNP), together with hundreds of heavily armed elements of the military and police forced their way to the farmhouse owned by Dr. Melecia Velmonte without showing a search nor arrest warrant. The victims were frisked, handcuffed, questioned and were brought to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade.
According to Lt. Col Detoyato, the group were alleged to be members of the New People's Army (NPA) and were allegedly conducting training on improvised explosives where accordingly, a cal. 45 pistols, a cal. 38 revolver, three hand grenades, and materials for making improvised explosive devices such as blasting caps, explosive sticks, and ammonium nitrate were seized during the operation.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) dispatched their investigators in Camp Capinpin but to no avail even them was not permitted to visit the detained health workers. To date, there are some who were released already but there are 12 more who are still detained. According to HEAD, they will file Writ of Habeas Corpus in Supreme Court today.
Dr. Velmonte, a former MAG member and Board of Trustees, a respected infectious disease doctors was not arrested but is condemning the arrest as she is only providing training to the health workers. According to Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), her farmhouse is the regular venue of health trainings, with participants coming from both the communities and the academe.
MAG expresses its deepest concern about direct assaults of health workers. MAG call upon the military and the police authorities to put an end to the harassment of ordinary citizens and to release immediately the remaining 12 health rights defenders without any condition.