Doctors’ group assails arbitrary arrests of colleagues in Rizal

ANTIPOLO CITY, Philippines—The Health Alliance for Democracy (Head) assailed the “arrest” of 42 health workers in Morong, Rizal last Saturday, February 6, at 6:15 in the morning.

Dr. Geneve E. Rivera-Reyes, Head’s secretary-general in a statement said the 43 health workers were illegally arrested and detained at the headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Rivera-Reyes said the said health workers are in the middle of their community health training at the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte, when the joint operatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Rizal-PNP forcibly entered the farmhouse, blindfolded the victims, and were taken to Camp Capinpin, in Tanay Rizal.

Health Alliance for Democracy denounces the alleged arbitrary arrest of the 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal.

“The raiding team used bogus search and arrest warrants, and disregarded the rights of Dr. Velmonte, who owns the property,” said Rivera.

The composite team were composed of 300 military and police personnel and headed by Southern Luzon Command chief, Col. Aurelio Baladad and a certain P/Supt. Balonglong.

Velmonte is a renowned and respected infectious disease specialist and her farmhouse is the regular venue of health trainings, with participants coming from both the communities and the academe.

News reports said that the raiding team allegedly recovered a .45-caliber pistol, a 38-caliber revolver, three hand grenades, a landmine, a claymore mine, two kilos of ammonium nitrate, seven blasting caps, 36 improvised explosive sticks and campaign materials of the party-list Bayan Muna in the area.

However, Rivera stressed that the arrested health workers are volunteers provide health services to poor communities, while the doctors are community-based medical practitioners working for different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and none of them are members of the NPA.

“Head believes that state security forces are doing everything to sow disorder and instigate turmoil that will be used as excuse to impose martial law and further vilify progressive organizations,” she said.

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