Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Continuous harassment of health workers in other places of the country

35 Examiner Street, West Triangle Homes
Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: (02)929-8109

Eleanor A. Jara, MD
cellfone: 0917-9789297/(632)929-8109

The harassment and intimidation of health workers continue to spread around the country. The incidents following the illegal arrest, detention, and continuous torture of 43 health workers on February 6 send a chilling effect among health professionals alike who are rendering services in rural communities.

On February 10, two staff with two Swedish exchange students of the Mobile Nursing Clinic (MNC) of the Saint Louis University (SLU) in Baguio City. They were accosted by personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) when they were coordinating for a presentation of MNC entry plans with the Sangguniang Bayan in one of the municipalities of Benguet. The lady police officer told the coordinator of MNC that “her boss” wanted to get their names and needed to know why they were in the area. She said that they were on red alert since the incident in Morong, Rizal happened.

The Community Health Education, Services, and Training in the Cordillera Region or CHESTCORE issued a statement denouncing said incident. “These terrifying incidents send wrong signals to health professionals wanting to serve the people in the countryside. Serving the people is now more than just self sacrifice and giving up comfortable lives, it means giving up so much more because of the dangers that go with it. Yet despite these, the committed health professionals and health workers opted to stay behind to serve the Filipino masses, resisting the bandwagon of overseas migration that would have given them opportunities of earning the much needed cash for their families. Hence, they do not deserve such treatment! They must be regarded instead as the unsung heroes of the country,” Dr. Erlinda Palaganas, RN, member of CHESTCORE’s Board of Directors said.

Meanwhile in Davao del Sur, Community Health Worker (CHW) Benjei Faldas, a 38 yo male, has been falsely accused of participating in an armed encounter between the New People’s Army and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on January 20, 2010 resulting in the injury of CAA Antonio Amo. On February 11, Faldas together with nine others were reportedly charged with the frustrated murder of Amo. CHD’s regional partner, Urban Integrated Health Services (UIHS) condemned this latest incident, “we cannot understand why health workers are subjected to such treatment by the Armed Forces of the state. Faldas was falsely accused. Hence, cannot anymore tend his rice fields or man the community clinic and pharmacy.” The community clinic and pharmacy in Barangay Sibulan in Davao del Sur was funded by the European Union through CHD and UIHS under the project Bringing Health into the People’s Hands.

This string of incidents against health workers of community-based health programs shows the AFP’s brazenness and utter disrespect of human rights. Health workers are continuously subjected to persecution for mere allegations and suspicions of “subversive “association.

“We call on the attention of the European Union and other international agencies who believe in the sanctity of human rights to state their positions regarding the continuous and aggravating harassments of health workers in the Philippines. We likewise enjoin the entire Filipino people and the international community to put pressure on the Philippine government and the AFP to stop the harassment of health workers all over the country. We also enjoin everybody to demand for a stop to the torture and illegal detention of the 43 health workers,” Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, Executive Director of the Council for Health and Development concluded.##

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Justice for the 43!