Fil-Am Women Call On Philippine Military to Stop the Torture and Harrassment of Mothers and Pregnant Women

Health Care Workers Should Be Released To Their Families And Communities Who Rely On Them For Health Care Given The Government’s Neglect Of This Basic Need

Contact: Valerie Francisco, Vice Chair, GABRIELA USA,

Fililpino women member organizations of GABRIELA USA across the United States demand the release of the 43 illegally detained healthcare workers. Of the 43 healthcare workers, 26 are women including a woman doctor and midwife, and two are pregnant. Most of the healthcare workers are peasant women from various poor communities that were taking classes on first aid and basic healthcare,  however, the Philippine military justifies the illegal arrest, detainment, and torture by claiming that they are members of the New People’s Army.

For a great majority of poor women and children in the provinces as well as urban poor areas, community healthcare workers provide the only access to basic healthcare, education, and prevention because it is not being provided by the government. The ratio of doctor to patient in the Philippines is pegged by the Department of Health at 1:30,000.

These healthcare workers should be praised and supported for their work as healthcare workers for their local communities.  Instead, they have been illegally detained and maltreated with forms of torture and sexual harassment. During their detainment, they were also denied access to food and bathroom privileges, and subject to various indignities.   They were also blindfolded and handcuffed for days on end.  The military has even defied the Philippine Supreme Court’s writ of habeas corpus order for them to present the 43 community health workers.

“While so many healthcare nurses and doctors have left for greener pastures to the United States and other countries, these community healthcare workers have chosen to stay and serve the poor. Many of them are mothers who have volunteered their time out of their busy schedules from working on their farms and taking care of their children to serve their communities with basic healthcare. They should not be criminalized. The real terrorism that has plagued our country is a broken, fascist government that has denied basic necessities like healthcare to the majority of the people.” stated Raquel Redondiez, chairperson of GABRIELA USA, chapter of GABRIELA Philippines.

GABRIELA USA, a national alliance of progressive Filipina women organizations, stands in solidarity with the members of 43 illegally detained healthcare workers and their families. GABRIELA-USA is an overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, with Babae in San Francisco, Pinay Sa Seattle in Seattle, WA, SiGAw in Los Angeles, CA, and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment in NYC.