Promotion of soldiers implicated in arrest of health workers sign of Arroyo’s culture of impunity – Migrante
“This is spitting at the face of the victims and their relatives and practically shoving a dirty finger at human rights and its defenders, including the international community which has condemned the arrest of the Morong 43!” Thus declared Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, the largest alliance of Filipino migrant organizations in referring to the promotion of two military officers — Colonel Aurelio Baladad and Lieutenant Colonel Jaime Abawag, who arrested the 43 healthworkers and doctors while in a training in Morong, Rizal.
The arrest has been slammed for being illegal and serious allegations of psychological and physical torture, including sexual abuse of the workers while in detention at Camp Capinpin, Rizal have raised serious concerns about the military’s arrogant display of power. It must be remembered that even the Supreme Court had to clearly threaten the military with sanctions when the military ignored the decision of the Court in approving the petition for the writ of habeas corpus filed by the relatives.
“The promotion just shows that the culture of impunity is so entrenched within the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and is actively being perpetuated by this government,” continued Martinez. “Who can forget Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s(GMA) very public commendation of Jovito “Berdugo” Palparan, praising him to high heavens in no less than a State of the Nation Address? In promoting violators of human rights, the AFP generals are simply emulating their Commander-in-Chief.”
Martinez declared that migrant Filipinos sympathize deeply with the victims. “We understand the outrage they must have felt upon hearing the news. Katulad siguro ng galit na nararamdaman namin sa dinarami- dami ng mga kasong nireklamo namin na inabuso kami, minaltrato, ginoyo, pinagkakitaan ng mga mapagsamantalang mga recruitment agencies, ng mga aroganteng employers at di makatarungang mga batas ng mga bansa – naglilipana pa din ang mga lumalabag ng aming karapatan dahil halos walang kinakasuhan o pinarurusahan ang ating gobiyerno. Bagkus ay pinatitindi pa nito ang pagbebenta sa amin ng mistulang mga alipin. Tulad ng mga Morong 43, hinahangad namin na sana naman ay mabigyan ng katarungan ang mga nabiktimang mga OFWs.”
Last year, Migrante has filed 762 and 131 number of complaints and appeals at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA) respectively, most of which are completely ignored by the these agencies. Elsewhere, thousands are in detention, some of them already in deathrow or have been stranded because they have been victimized by illegal recruitment or various labor violations. No employer, no recruitment agency, no government has been taken to task by the Philippine government for such violations. GMA’s deployment target in 2010 is to reach the 2 million mark.
“We are just so glad that GMA’s term is ending but remain vigilant. We also challenge all those who are running for a seat in government to dismantle this culture of impunity that GMA has so deliberately nurtured.” Martinez concluded. ###