Thursday, March 18, 2010

Kins and colleagues of 43 health workers urge CHR to fully fulfill its mandate to: check on state forces’ abuses and uphold and protect human rights

Media Release
Dr. Eleanor Jara
Mobile : 0917-9789297

The families, supporters, and colleagues of the 43 health workers trooped to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) today to demand for justice on their unlawful arrests, detention, and torture. CHR Chair Leila de Lima ordered a hearing today between military and police officials, the judge issuing the search warrant, Dr. Melecia Velmonte and son Jose Manuel, and the 43 health workers.

“We want speedy justice for our colleagues. Each day that they spend in detention translates to the delay in delivery of health services to government-neglected areas. They do not deserve another day in jail,” said Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, one of the spokespersons of the Free the 43 Health Workers alliance.

She shared her optimism that the CHR thru Chair de Lima will maintain its independence and live up to its mandate to probe on cases of human rights violations. “We challenge the CHR not to submit to pressures from the military and other high ranking officials and maintain their independence in probing the truth and seeking justice for the health workers,” Dr. Jara explained.

Community Health Workers or CHWs, whom a police official called “uneducated” and therefore unfit to undergo health skills training, number to hundreds of thousands and serve communities in the farthest recesses of the country. Where government services lack or are simply non-existent, these CHWs render much needed health services that save thousands of lives each year. Dr. Jara explained that the lack of high educational attainment does not make anyone unfit to learn and render health skills because the main requirement to become a CHW is the understanding of the importance of the role that ordinary people play in setting-up a people-managed health care at the community level and the commitment to serve others without expecting anything in return.

Dr. Jara also took note of Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo’s apparent silence on the wanton human rights violation committed by her state troops. “Mrs. Arroyo’s silence on the unlawful arrest and torture of the 43 is tantamount to allowing the culture of impunity to perpetuate and a brazen disregard for the rule of law, “she said.

She stressed that the alliance is optimistic that the Commission on Human Rights will stand by its mandate and bring the perpetrators of this grave human rights violation to court but primarily, it is the people’s unrelenting struggle that will ensure justice will be served.

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