MANILA, Philippines?Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) on Tuesday strongly condemned the ?intransigence? of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which seeks to award two officers involved in the ?illegal arrest, detention, and torture of 43 health workers? known as the ?Morong 43.?
?Rewarding human rights violators is not only insulting to the victims and their families but also an affront to basic decency in a country that is supposedly a democracy,? said Dr. Darby Santiago, HEAD chairperson in a news release.
The health group is reacting to an announcement made earlier by AFP spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner Jr. that the military establishment is conferring the fourth-highest military award on Colonel Aurelio Baladad and Lieutenant Colonel Jaime Abawag this Wednesday in Camp Nakar, Quezon.
?The illegal raid in Morong last February 6 and the subsequent treatment of the detainees is distinctively atrocious for its flagrant disregard of due process and basic human rights.?
?After the warrantless arrests, the health workers were denied legal counsel and subjected to sleep deprivation and repeated interrogation while blindfolded and handcuffed. Some were tortured and sexually harassed.?
?Are these the alleged feats that the AFP now honors?? decried Dr. Santiago.
The health group said it believes that the arrogance of the AFP stems from the encouragement given by the Arroyo regime and meant to prop up some semblance of success for Oplan Bantay Laya, the counter-insurgency campaign that will end this June.
?As commander-in-chief, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is accountable for promoting the terror and brazen brutality being waged by her security forces. Now, she should explain what she finds exemplary in the crimes being committed against ordinary citizens.?
?In truth, there is nothing honorable in the transgressions committed against the 43 health workers.?