US Nurses' Group Asks Philippine Government to Free Detained Health Workers

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MANILA, Philippines — National Nurses United (NNU), a 150,000-strong organization of registered nurses in the United States, asked the Philippine government to release the 43 health workers who were arrested on Feb. 6 in Morong, Rizal and accused of being Communist rebels.

NNU, through its co-presidents Deborah Burger, Karren Higgins, and Jean Ross, also wrote U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking her to intervene, stressing that the arrest and continuing detention of the so-called Morong 43 are illegal and constitute human rights violations.

In a news release, the group also voiced their deep concerns on how dedicated health workers are being treated in a country where a lot of medics are forced to leave because of the lack government support.

NNU commended the efforts of the 43 health workers and particularly mentioned Gary Liberal, a fellow nurse and an operating room nurse from Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital who is also the National Auditor of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), a recognized union of healthcare workers in the Philippines.

Earlier, the National Council of Churches also asked Clinton to investigate the case of the 43 detained health workers.

Among the organizations who have earlier expressed their support include Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR), Red Mundial de Mujeres por los Derechos Reproductivos Réseau Mondial de Femmes por les Droits Reproductifs (Netherlands), Organizing Centre for Social and Economic Justice (Canada), Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia, Kasammako (Korea), Peoples Health Movement, and other international human rights and religious organizations.