UPDATE (Philippines): Another detainee dies in jail; 18 others at risk for lack of medical attention


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-027-2009
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of association, Inhuman & degrading treatment, Right to health,

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) deeply regrets to inform that one of the 19 striking workers, held in detention on fabricated charges, has died after contracting an illness inside the jail. His health was aggravated by poor prison conditions and the lack of adequate medical attention. He is the second detainee to have died after a fellow detainee passed away a year ago.


In our previous appeal (AHRC-UAC-102-2009), we mentioned the continued detention of the 19 striking workers in Cainta, Rizal, on fabricated charges. One of their companions, Melvic C. Lupe, has already died after contracting tuberculosis in June 2008. His illness was also aggravated by various complications.

It is appalling that anyone should die of tuberculosis today. Tuberculosis is no longer the dreaded affliction that has killed millions of people over the past decades. It has been for many years now an easily treatable disease and the fact that Lupe died of it whilst in custody speaks of the criminal neglect of the prison authorities.

On September 24, another detainee, 25-year-old Leo C. Paro, of Parang, Marikina City, died due to illness that he also contracted in jail. Prior to his death, Paro had been complaining of difficulty in breathing. The medical report, that could have explained the cause of his death, was not immediately available. Due to the typhoon in Metro Manila, there were difficulties in the access of information in the jail where the detainees are held.

Paro’s death was announced on September 26, two days after he passed away. When this information reached the local group helping these workers, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), they attempted get more information about the cause of his death. However, the flooding in Metro Manila, that also affected the town where the jail is located, frustrated any efforts to obtain more information.

There are serious concerns with regard to the health of the remaining detainees. It is reported that they have not been able to obtain adequate medical attention; they receive no regular medical examinations and also lack adequate food. In our previous appeal, we have also expressed our disappointment at the corrupt practices by jail guards who steal part of the food supplied by the families of the detainees.

Also, in the aftermath of typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana), there are serious concerns that their already vulnerable health condition is likely to be aggravated further. It has been announced that there are also serious concerns over the possibilities of an outbreak of disease in towns affected by the flooding. The municipality of Cainta, Rizal province, where they are held, is among the hardest-hit areas.


Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below asking them to conduct an investigation into the death of this detainee. Immediate action should also be taken, in particular by affording immediate medical attention, to the remaining detainees whose health and condition are continuously at risk due to poor prison conditions.

The AHRC is also writing letters to the Special Rapporteurs on the question of torture, human rights defenders and the independence of judges and lawyers.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear _________,

Re: PHILIPPINES: Another detainee dies in jail; 18 others at risk for lack of medical attention

Names of detainee who died:
1. Leo C. Paro, 25, single, of Parang, Marikina City. He died on September 24, 2009.
Names of others whose health is at risk:
1. Sonny M. Batuyang, 39, married, of Banaba Extension San Mateo, Rizal
2. Claro M. Claridad, 28, married, of Nangka Marikina City
3. Romeo M. Amit, 36, married, of Barangay San Isidro Taytay, Rizal
4. Leo D. Sabaten, 20, of Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal
5. Andy S. Salarson, 29, single, of Concepcion, Marikina City
6. Jessie A. Bergona, 22, ofBanaba Extention, San Mateo Rizal
7. Rodolfo D. Mendoza, 30, of Village St., Cainta, Rizal
8. Melanio A. Delovino, 29, of Villa Tupaz, San Juaquin, Pasig City
9. Renato B. Lopez, 33, of J. Pasig, Cainta, Rizal
10. Crisanto D. Sabaten, 18, of Banaba Extention, San Mateo, Rizal
11. Emuel Vergara, 25, laborer, of Fairview, Quezon City
12. Richard P. Sabuco, 27, of Abnay St., Sitro Lupang Arenda, Barangay Sta. Ana, Taytay, Rizal
13. Joseph M. Atienza, 34, of Marikina Heights, Marikina City
14. Julius S. Alcantara, 36, of Barangay San Isidro, Taytay, Rizal
15. Pulido I. Baguno, 30, of Kabisig Floodway, Cainta, Rizal
16. Bobby A. Maglay, 30, of Tomana Concepcion, Marikina City
17. Jason T. Alvarez, 22, of Loveros, Antipolo City
18. Robert B. Camagay, 23, Barangay San Isidro, Taytay, Rizal
All of them are presently detained at the Karangalan Police Station, Cainta, Rizal
Status of the case:
The charge filed against the workers for Serious Illegal Detention remains pending at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 80, in Morong, Rizal. There had been needless delays in the conclusion of the case due to, for instance, the judge taking leave of absence.

I am shocked to learn that one of the 19 detainees, who have been continuously held in detention, reportedly on fabricated charges, has died due to illness in jail. The victim, Leo Paro of Parang, Marikina City, passed away on September 24, 2009.

Paro is the second detainee to have died after becoming ill due to the poor prison conditions and lack of adequate medical attention. Prior to Paro’s death, another detainee, Melvic Lupe, died from tuberculosis. His condition had also been aggravated by poor prison conditions and various complications. Paro and Lupe were physically fit and did not have these types of illnesses prior to their detention.

It is appalling that anyone should die of tuberculosis today. Tuberculosis is no longer the dreaded affliction that has killed millions of people over the past decades. It has been for many years now an easily treatable disease and the fact that Lupe died of it whilst in custody speaks of the criminal neglect of the prison authorities.

I have learned that the detention center, where they are presently held, is a small prison cell measuring about four square meters. Initially more than 20 inmates were occupying the detention cell. All of the detainees had to take it in turns to sleep due to the overcrowding.

The detainees’ vulnerability from contracting illness, and diseases inside the jail and the weakening of their bodies is also aggravated by the lack of adequate food and nutrition. Not only is their food scarce, there are occasions when the food ration is served late. And even if the visiting relatives bring food for the detainees to eat, the jail guards would take some portions of the food before it reached them.

I therefore urge you to conduct an inquiry into the circumstance of Paro’s death. Immediate action should also be taken, in particular to affording them immediate medical attention and food rations, to ensure their well-being. I also demand that the jail authorities, where they are continuously held, should improve their prison facilities. It is disappointing that despite the death of one of the detainees over a year ago, the death of Paro apparently illustrates the jail authority’s continued failure to prevent similar deaths of the detainees who are under their custody and care.

Also, I urged Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Ma. Teresa Cruz San Gabriel to ensure that the hearing of the detainees’ case is concluded without further delay. She should immediately conduct personal jail inspections, as required by the Section 25 Rule 114 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, to evaluate the detainees’ present condition.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Leila De Lima
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: mtm_rodulfo@yahoo.com

3. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
E-mail: ruth_cossid@yahoo.com

4. Ms. Agnes Devanadera
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: raulgonzalez_doj@yahoo.com

5.  Mr. Marianito Roque
Department of Labor and Employment (Dole)
7/F DOLE Building, Intramuros
Manila NCR 1002
Tel: +63 2 527 2131
E-mail: sec_art_brion@yahoo.com.ph

6. Ms. Ma. Teresa Cruz San Gabriel
Presiding Judge
Branch 80, Regional Trial Court
Morong, Rizal
Tel: +63 2 691 5535

7. Dr. Esperanza I. Cabral
Department of Social Welfare and Development
DSWD Bldg., Constitution Hills, Batasan Complex,
Quezon City
Tel: +63 2 931 8101 / 2 931 8107
Fax: +63 2 931 8191

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)