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Nurses group wants stop to harassment, red-tagging of health workers

The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) on Friday called for a stop to harassment and red-tagging of healthcare workers, particularly those who engaged in union activities.

The group issued the call after Lumad advocate Dr. Natividad "Naty" Castro was released from detention following a court order dismissing the kidnapping and serious illegal detention case against her.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) also accused Castro of being a ranking member of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“We are heartened that justice has been served by a courageous judge who saw through the state’s agenda of vilifying, terrorizing and harassing activists and change agents working for and with marginalized sectors seeking justice and genuine reforms like Doc Naty,” the group said.

“But we continue to be outraged that other people servants and rights advocates continue to languish in jails because of trumped up cases under the blanket of subversion thrown by state forces,” they added.

The FNU said some healthcare workers have also received threats from “state forces who subject us to vilification and harassment through red-tagging.”

“There have been instances when hospital workers engaged in union activities were stalked their workplaces and/or red-tagged and caricatured in social media to denigrate their persons never portray them as enemies of the state,” it said.

The group explained when they raise grievances on work life conditions including asserting rights to fair wages and humane work conditions, they are simply  "justly exercising our fundamental rights to free speech and organization.”

“But an extreme response by some state forces is to stifle the exercise of legitimate rights, sow fear by red-tagging, hurl trumped-up charges to exact arrest and worse, as has happened, even physically eliminate the targets,” it added.

The group also called for the abolishment of the National Task Force End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying that it “acts gestapo-like in its zealous intent to quash all forms of dissent by the citizenry.”

GMA News Online sought comment from NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lorraine Marie Badoy but has not yet replied as of posting time.

Castro's family said on Thursday that she was released from detention on Wednesday.

In a statement, the family said Castro, who is being linked to communist rebels by the police and military, was no longer in Mindanao.

The PNP said it is open to using legal remedies for the court to reconsider the decision.

“The PNP reserves the right to seek further legal remedies that may convince the Court to reconsider,” it said.—LDF, GMA News