Caritas Aoteroa appeals to Ms. Arroyo: Release Morong 43

Antipolo City, February 16, 2010—The Caritas-Aotearoa, the Catholic agency which promotes justice, peace and development, has sent a letter of appeal to Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately release the 43 health workers arrested in Morong, Rizal two weeks ago, due to rebellion charges.

In a letter dated 12 February 2010, Caritas-Aotearoa Director Michael Smith says that Caritas-Aotearoa is “deeply concerned about the arbitrary arrest of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal Province on 6 February 2010,” who have been incommunicado for days.

The agency chief also said that the news about alleged sexual harassments against female detainees and torture worries them.

“We understand a 60-year old doctor was electrocuted and repeatedly hit on the chest while being questioned. If such allegations are true, the military has violated the Anti-Torture Act,” said Smith, referring to Dr. Alex Montes of the Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED), Inc.

Montes, who have been a doctor for more than three decades now, has been actively serving the poor communities via COMMED and as a coordinator of the United Churches of Christ in the Philippines’ (UCCP) health committee.

“This arbitrary arrest without proper procedure and adequate evidence has tarnished the Philippines’ international image. We urge you (Mrs. Arroyo) to immediately release the 43 [health] workers and stop ill-treatment of them,” ends Smith’s statement. (Noel Sales Barcelona/Pilipinas Reporter; See also the story in CBCPNews.com)