Red-tagging of Health Workers is a Disservice to our Country

MAG Statement on Dr. Castro’s designation as a terrorist by ATC31 January 2023″The Medical Action Group, (MAG) denounces the recent pronouncement of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) designating Dr. Natividad “Naty” Castro as a “terrorist” in its Resolution No. 35. Dr. Castro, a community physician was arrested in February 2022 on kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges but later the charges against her were junked by the court and ordered her immediate release.This designation adversely affects all community health workers, particularly those serving in marginalized and vulnerable communities. It justifies trial by publicity and at the same time deprives the poorest of the health services they need at the time of a pandemic and economic crisis. We deplore the Philippine government’s use of “red-tagging” as a counterinsurgency measure meant to vilify or demonize anyone by publicly accusing them of being members or supporters of the communist rebels. Red-tagging puts anyone at risk of being harassed or even killed. Given the fact that the government particularly the security sector has long been accused of gross human rights violations including extrajudicial killings and torture.It is counterproductive as it narrows the space for civic participation. Red-tagging of health workers who serve wholeheartedly and opt to work with the underserved despite low salaries is a disservice to the country. It violates not only the constitutional guarantees of due process and presumption of innocence until proven guilty, but it also deprives the communities of needed healthcare services through the work of our health workers.Our health workers deserve recognition not persecution for their commitment to serving the welfare of our fellow Filipinos, especially those who are most in need.We condemn the continuous red-tagging of the government and making false accusations. The resolution tagging Dr. Castro as a terrorist must be removed immediately.
We demand the government to stop red-tagging and other forms of harassment, intimidation, and attacks against human rights defenders.”