Monday, September 20, 2010

Will there be change?

I was a physician-surgeon working with a Community-based Health Program in the province of Kalinga since 1987. Years of experience in alternative health care has taught us that the best and most effective approach is to work with the people where they are at. Area-based community health worker training has therefore been one of the main components of any effective health initiative especially in the light of the inability of the State to effectively deliver the necessary health services to its constituents.

Such was the activity that the health professional and health workers known as the Morong 43were engaged in on February 6, 2010 when more than a hundred heavily-armed military and policemen swooped down and took them into custody. While in the hands of the military they suffered physical and psychological torture. To this day, they remain behind bars despite a growing realization among observers of the infirmity of the State’s case.

Traditionally, health personnel and religious workers have been relatively immune from vicious reactionary backlash. But this has not been true in the last ten years. Goaded on by mad generals and cabinet members, the Philippine State Security Forces have literally gone into a rampage of killings, abductions and illegal detentions. This they do for their stated goal of crushing the longest running liberation movement in Asia today – an obvious impossibility considering that they have kept moving forward their self-imposed deadline for many years. The fire of this crazed witch hunt is stoked even more by the logistic support of the most powerful nation in the world.

State oppression is usually done by deception or by force. In the last several years, State has had to employ more and more the latter means, as the carrot does not seem to work anymore. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lot of dead bodies, missing people, and hundreds of political prisoners. And like the Morong 43, there are 338 more political prisoners languishing in jail. None of them deserves to be there.

But now we have a new president. In the first two and a half months of his term, I still have to see some concrete action on his part to actually put a stop to the blood bath. The nation has put its hopes on him. Will he fail us? Will he change things? We will know in the next few months. Otherwise, it will again be up to us, the Filipino people to change things for him.

Chandu Claver
17 September 2010

*Chandu Claver – Kalinga-based former coordinator of the Community Health Concerns for Kalinga, a community basedhealth program. Former member of the Board of Trustees of both the Community Medicine DevelopmentFoundation (COMMED), and the Council for Health Development (CHD). An ambush by suspected State forces resulted in the death of his wife and severe damage to himself. Continuing threats on himself and his children forcedhim to relocate to Canada as a refugee. After investigation a formal hearing, Canada has found his refugee claims asvalid. Presently the Chairperson of BAYAN – Canada.

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