October 27, 2016
No Respect: Police Arrest Medics and Patients
Health Alliance for Democracy joined other sectors in an indignation rally on October 27, 2016, 9:00 am at the Bonifacio Shrine. The groups later marched towards the US Embassy at 1:00 pm. “Aside from the violent dispersal, we also condemn the illegal arrest of our paramedics last October 19 at the US Embassy. The police violated the medics’ obligation to give first aid treatment, thereby delaying treatment and worsening patient conditions” said Dr. Darby Santiago, HEAD Chairperson.
“They were arrested despite wearing identification badges, and they were beaten by wooden batons!” saidDr. Santiago. “Worse, they tried to handcuff paramedic Adam Lacson and tried to separate him from the group. If not for the medics’ decision to huddle together and protect Adam, he might have suffered worse injuries at the hands of the police,” added Dr. Santiago. “The illegal arrest of the medics ultimately delayed the treatment of patients, worsening patient conditions and increasing the number of injured.”
In light of these events, Dr. Julie P. Caguiat and Mr. Lacson together with the other paramedics who were hurt filed a complaint against nine police officers at the Office of the Ombudsman yesterday, October 26. They joined members of the national minority groups and indigenous people who were also hurt in the violent dispersal in filing complaints. Among the cases filed were attempted murder, serious physical injuries and obstruction of justice. “The police had strong intent not only to hurt but also arrest and detain protesters, at the command of Sr. Supt. Pedrozo. Many of the patients had injuries on the head; those who went under the police mobile had serious injuries,” added Dr. Santiago.
Dr. Julie P. Caguiat was the team leader of the 12-person medical team during the protest. Five of them were illegally arrested, some of whom received beatings from wooden batons by the police, while they were giving medical treatment to patients who were also beaten and ran over by a police mobile. One of the patients was Agree “Piya” Macli-ing Malayao who suffered wounds on her right leg. The medics resisted arrest as they explained to the police that they were in fact medics. These fell on deaf ears as the police continued to drag them across the pavement and even berated them, shouting curses at the medics who were only trying to help the injured.
Earlier this week, nine police officers involved in the violent dispersal were relieved from service. Dr. Santiago stated that “Relieving them of service could not be called a punishment. Sr. Supt. Pedrozo and PO3 Franklin Kho must be held responsible; they and the other police officers involved must undergo investigation and be punished accordingly.”
“Today, we join the national minorities in their fight for self-determination, the push for an independent foreign policy and their fight against US imperialism. The presence of US troops in the country side, the continuous plunder of our resources and the state murder of lumads and anti-mining activists are but manifestations of the US interference on our country’s sovereignty,” said Dr. Santiago. “We also condemn the harassment of medical professionals by state forces and the illegal arrest of medics. All these have to end, and these have to end now!”