Health union denounces harassment of members

Cristy Donguines, president of Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union showing the memorandum of the Philippine National Police. (Contributed photo)

The men still proceeded inside their office and took a picture of their organizational chart, which bears their names and pictures.

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – There is no exception from the crackdown of President Duterte’s critics, not even public health workers are spared, said Alliance of Health Workers president Robert Mendoza. Just last week, two men in civilian clothes visited the office of their union asking information and activities of their “organization.”

Mendoza condemned what they perceived as harassment targeting their ranks particularly the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union (JRRMMCEU) and the employees of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital. He said aside from universities, students and human rights defenders, unions are also being targeted by the State for they do not only fight for their rights but also the people’s right to free health services.

The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) has 27,000 members comprised of government health workers from several major public hospitals nationwide.

‘Attempt to sow fear’

Cristy Donguines, president of JRRMMCEU, said the incident was an attempt to sow fear among their members and stop them from joining pro-health workers and pro-people campaigns. “If they think that we will stop, they are wrong,” she said in a press conference last Friday, Oct. 5.

Donguines recounted that the men who introduced themselves as police first visited the union office, which is located inside the hospital on Sept. 28. They asked to interview its members for a purported workshop entitled, Workshop on Threat Groups held last Aug. 23. The union member was told to fill up a biographical profile form that also bears the name of Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao’s chief of staff to make it appear that it is the one asking the information.

The biographical profile form contains information such as name, alias, name of the group, education, etc. The member asked the purpose of the profile but the men did not explain, said Donguines. The men left but said that they will return on Oct. 2.

The men came back on Oct. 3 instead and showed a memorandum from the National Capital Region Office Manila Police District dated Sept. 25. The memorandum orders the intelligence chiefs of precincts “to update and validate the periodic situation report factors that has implications to the peace and security of Metro Manila.”

According to Donguines the police said the memorandum is proof that they are indeed legal. “But how come they went to our office without coordinating with us first? Our member asked why they are not wearing proper uniform and name plate. They could not answer those questions,” said Donguines. She said the two men showed their identification cards but she questioned its authenticity.

The men still proceeded inside their office and took a picture of their organizational chart, which bears their names and pictures.
The AHW said it was also on the same day that the police also visited Fabella Hospital. Mendoza said such act put the lives and security of their union members and leaders at risk.

The PNP Memorandum. (Contributed photo)

“This is an affront to health workers’ rights,” said Mendoza adding that State forces are working 24/7 to suppress all forms of opposition to the government.

The memorandum identified major components of the periodic situation report on threat groups which are:
a. Communist terrorist groups-armed struggle
b. Communist terrorist groups-legal struggle
c. Peace inclined armed groups (MILF, MNLF)
d. Terrorism (ISIS, ASG, KIM, etc)
e. Terrorism financing

It also stated the purported legal struggle parameters as mass protest actions, number of “left-leaning organizations,” monitor preparations for the 50th Communist Party of the Philippines anniversary this December and “identify communist terrorist group supported candidates for the upcoming 2019 mid-term elections, current officials supporting provincial and national candidates” among others.

‘Classic example of red-baiting’

The Makabayan bloc denounced the memorandum saying that it is a classic example of profiling and red baiting of individuals, organizations and candidates.

On Oct. 9, Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution 2233 to probe the said memorandum. It said that the memorandum is in accordance to government’s concocted “Red October” plot, a violation of human rights and even election laws as it tagged candidates and groups as communist supported.

The Makabayan bloc said they will study the possibility of filing charges against the individual police officers implementing the memorandum as well as their superiors. They also demand the immediate withdrawal of the memorandum and its implementation.

“The Philippine National Police is not only engaging in partisan politics with this memo they are also in a way unjustly campaigning against candidates. To put it bluntly they are gauging the extent of the support of the Makabayan bloc and harass their supporters in the run up to the elections,” the Makabayan bloc said in a statement. ()

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