WSCF calls on Philippine President Benigno Aquino to release illegally arrested health workers
6 November 2010
The WSCF, an umbrella of around 110 national student Christian movements around the world and an NGO with ECOSOC consultative status at the United Nations, also issued a public statement shortly after the illegal arrest, detention and torture of the 43 health workers during the former administration of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo.
As a gesture of solidarity to the families of the 43 health workers, who appealed for an international action on November 6, in the ninth month of their detention, the letter said “We now call on HE President Aquino, as the new commander in chief, to release the health workers and to take serious measures in calling the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and all other government security forces and apparatus to end all forms of abuse, harassment, intimidation and violence against groups and individuals who are critical of the government.”
“We also call on your new administration to hold those who have been directly involved in the human rights atrocities in the Philippines in the last ten years be held accountable,” says part of the letter.
Signed by the WSCF’s General Secretary Christine Housel and Chairperson Horacio Mesones, the letter further drew attention to the particular inclusion of two pregnant women, who have now given birth and who they called to be released immediately on humanitarian grounds.
“In the spirit of living and defending justice and human rights for all, we are called by our Christian commitment and witness to be in solidarity especially with the marginalized people and communities in the Philippines and around the world.” “We also draw attention to the fact that Dr. Alex Montes of the Community Medicine Development Foundation and a member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines was one of the arrested 43. Dr. Montes works tirelessly as a medical doctor who serves in community health service to Filipino marginalized communities.”
The letter further called on President Aquino to heed the recommendations put forward by Philippine former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson and now Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, who has herself led a fact-finding for the release of the 43 health workers, and the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston to alleviate the human rights violations in the Philippines, including putting a stop to its counter-insurgency operations.
“We are hopeful that the new government, under your [Pres. Aquino] direction, will promote policies and take actions to uphold human rights for all,” the letter said.
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