It was an emotional meeting between KATRIBU president Beverly Longid and Ray-om Among, a 22-year old Mangyan who is detained in Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal with 42 other health workers. The visit was the first for Among since she was arrested on February 6 while participating in a week-long health care training sponsored by the Council for Health and Development (CHD).
Longid, an Igorot from the Kankanaey-Bontok tribe visited Among, who hails from Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro and her “kailian” (fellow tribe member) Angela Manugan Doloricon Thursday. She was also accompanying Neil Doloricon, former Dean of the College of Fine Arts in UP Diliman, who visited his wife Angela.
Longid said she and Dolorico had to go through the “excruciating ordeal of having to pass through tightly guarded gates in Camp Capinpin and watch anti-activist films before finally meeting Among and Angela.”
Tears and applause for first visit
According to Among, other detained health workers were tearful as they gave her a round of applause when their jail guard announced that she had a visitor. Until Longid’s visit, she was one of the four detainees who have not been visited by family members since their arrest.
A fellow detainee even asked Among if Longid was her mother. It was the first time Among met Longid, who paid the Mangyan and Igorot health workers a visit on learning that they were among the 43 illegally arrested medical practitioners.
Far-flung tribal community
“Among may belong to another tribe, but as indigenous peoples, we are bound by our land, blood and distinct identity, not to mention that we share the same plight and struggle. Every tribe is our family,” Longid said, noting that indigenous peoples are the main constituents of Katribu Partylist.
According to Longid, Among shared that her family is likely facing difficulty in paying her a visit due to financial constraints, not to mention that they hail from a far-flung indigenous community in Mindoro. Among belongs to a family of 10. One of her sisters is serving as a Barangay Health Worker in their community,
“From the nearest main road, it takes about 8-10 hours of hiking before one can reach our tribal community,” Longid also recalled Among telling her.
Discrimination in the camp
Longid warned that the state forces could be impinging on the indigenous peoples rights as guaranteed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which the government acceded to in 2008.
“Going by the statements of the military, it seems that the health workers have not only been tortured mentally or physically but were also discriminated against on account of their distinct identity and socio-economic status, a matter that indigenous peoples are so sensitive about,” Longid said.
Longid recalled that in a TV interview, Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ 2nd Infantry Division, claimed that the detained health workers generally had low educational attainment, citing this as a reason to brand them rebels.
According to Longid, Among is a high school graduate. “Does that instantly make her a rebel?” Longid asked.
“Such remark is discriminatory and insensitive to marginalized sectors such as indigenous peoples. It is precisely government’s neglect to provide basic services such as education and health that drove the health workers to serve poor communities. Now such State neglect becomes the crime of the health workers?” Longid lamented.
Milk, blanket and freedom
Longid called for the immediate release of her “katribus” (fellow indigenous persons) Among and Doloricon as well as the other health workers. She also urged the military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as communists and rebels.
According to Longid, her group will help mobilize legal, material and moral support for Among. “We are trying to facilitate the visit of her family. We will stand by her side and Angela’s as they go through this ordeal,” Longid said.
Longid, a feisty human rights defender from Cordillera could not help but get teary-eyed when her 30 minute-meeting with Among was up, and all the young Mangyan health worker would ask for were a blanket and a can of milk.
“Among, Angela and the other illegally detained health workers immediately need food and comfort, but freedom above all,” Longid said, vowing to support her “katribus” and the rest of the 43 until they are freed.
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Maoist terrorist’s “United Front” at play!
“LUMANG TUGTUGIN!” Obviously visible now is the protective mantle thrown by Maoist terrorists’ legal and sectoral front organizations on the 43 NPA personalities cum medical workers arrested in Morong, Rizal, last week.
The cortège of sectoral front organizations, all under BAYAN, are drumming up and stirring the front pages of media black propaganda with their cohorts in media vigorously at work. All these are designed to put the government and its judicial processes under serious threat.
Expected are the actions of Karapatan whose avowed mission is to protect the rights (sic!) of Maoist terrorists personalities arrested by government security forces or killed during encounters. The ALLIANCE FOR NATIONALISM AND DEMOCRACY (ANAD) Partylist is fully aware of the pompous milieu of highly questionable and suspect actions expediently thrown by these self-righteous sectoral Maoist terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF organizations to rescue the so-called “Morong 43” out of detention. Again, the sets of pre-planned mass actions, e.g. black propaganda, mass actions in the streets and other government institutions and facilities, and insidious moves against government personalities and functionaries, are tailored-cut to destroy government.
ANAD Partylist strongly points out the following:
a) Using the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to gain entry into the Camp Capinpin, in Tanay, Rizal. ANAD is aware of the fact that when CHR chair Leila de Lima entered Camp Capinpin this week, she was accompanied by a retinue number of media personalities. Quite a number of these so-called mediamen were fake as they were known to ANAD as active operators of the National United Front Commission (NUFC) of Maoist terrorist CPP-NPA-NDF. Yet, when Ms Lima was told by the soldiers, manning the entry gates, that they should undergo strict identity check, after the military found earlier that media organizations were used by the Maoist terrorists legal and sectoral front organizations to gain entry to the camp to pass to and gain information on the detainees’ situations and conditions, her response to the guard was: “Pag-usapan natin ‘yan mamaya (We’ll discuss it later).” This is highly questionable and suspect! This is plain and unequivocal act of exerting the authority of her office and completely disregarding the policies and security measures imposed inside the military camp. What inappropriate statement from a Head of a government office, especially one who is sworn to uphold justice, fairness, and the rule of law in our country, did she make!
For fairness, we would like to ask this question: Was Ms de Lima aware that she was with a group of impostors? If the answer is NO, then she should not have protested and arrogantly forced her way inside the camp after the soldiers, manning the entry gate, explained these things to her.
b) Many, if not all, of those arrested were identified members of the NPA operating in the areas of Southern Luzon, Bicol, Central, and even from Mindanao. Indeed it was one of the biggest single arrests ever made by the security forces of the state. Admittedly, some of those arrested has acknowledged that they are members of the New Peoples Army in their respective areas, and pointed to other personalities in the group as also NPA members but chose to be silent about it with the hope that the United Front effort will spring them out of detention.
Why are the groups Karapatan, Bayan, even Satur Ocampo (a known Maoist terrorist pseudo Partylist personality but chose to be silent about his membership in the terrorist organization) persistent in using constitutional provisions, bill of rights of individuals, and other legal remedies available; yet insists on their silence regarding the membership of these personalities in the NPA as mentioned by Valentino Paulino a.k.a. Ka Beloy, one of those arrested, admitted being a member of the NPA in Bulacan, and chose to return to the folds of the law; and PNP Inspector Rex Cuntapay’s positive identification of Linda Otañez and Pearl Irene Martinez (among those arrested) as one of those in the NPA group that held him captive for 83 days after his group was ambushed in Barangay Mabacud, Rodriguez, Rizal last January 3, 2009. These are only a few of the revelations that some of the “Morong 43” made. Yet, the statements of Karapatan, Bayan, National Union of People’s Lawyers, even Satur Ocampo does not bear any reaction or clarification to the statements of Ka Beloy and Inspector Cuntapay! This is blatant deception that is the usual “flavor of the month” of Maoist terrorist personalities. Too obvious is the fact that they always resort to use and exploit all legal remedies afforded by the Constitution and international conventions on human rights made available by the government that they themselves abhor and seek to destroy.
c) Insisting on the rights of those arrested yet silent and has done nothing to uphold the rights of innocent Filipinos mercilessly murdered, extorted money, harassed, intimidated by their comrades in the Maoist terrorist NPA. While CHR Chairperson Leila de Lima’s sworn duty is to ensure that all people’s human rights are upheld and protected, the truth has revealed the opposite. CHR Chair de Lima immediately springs into action to check on allegations hurled by Maoist terrorist sectoral front and pseudo Partylist organizations against government agencies, especially security forces. Yet, she has not moved a finger on reports of NPA atrocities, e.g. murders, extortion, intimidation, and harassment, which have been noticed and received by her office.
One must not disregard the rule of law and the equal protection guaranteed by our Constitutions, and international conventions. ANAD strongly supports the move to let the wheels of justice and the rule of law turn along its due course.
The cries and protestations made by Maoist terrorist legal front and sectoral organizations must not lord over the wheels of justice and rule of law. Government must perform its constitutionally mandated task, and must not give way to the machinations and manipulations orchestrated by the organizations of doom and venom whose ultimate result would be to sow anarchy, in this country.
Finally, ANAD Partylist call on CHR Chair Lila de Lima, to fairly enforce her office’s mandate and should not allow, willfully or otherwise, any individual or organization to use the Commission on Human Rights to their benefit and gains.