Saturday, December 18, 2010

Finally, most of the 43 Philippine health workers are free

Intal salutes the newly released health workers and thanks those who helped to get them free.

It is with great joy that we learned about the release of most of the Morong 43 in the evening of December 17. It is a moment we have been looking forward to since they were arrested in Morong, Rizal province, on February 6. We were confident that they had to be released sooner or later because we knew for a fact that the charges against the 43 didn't hold water. It is a shame that it took more than ten months before 33 of them were released and that 10 of them are still in jail.

Intal has been involved in solidarity work with community based health programs in the Philippines for many years and some of us know some of the 43 personally. Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor was a doctor of the Council for Health and Development, one of our partner organizations. The arrest of the 43 health workers was nothing less than an attack against the movement for health rights. It shows that the struggle for health is a struggle for social justice.

We thank everyone who joined us in the campaign for their release, particularly our partner organizations in Palestine, the DR Congo, Latin America and the global People's Health Movement. We also thank our friends from the Stop the Killings platform in Belgium and the hundreds that joined our campaign activities including pickets, petition signing and a paid advertisement in a Philippine newspaper. We are proud that we have been able to contribute to the groundswell of protest because the release of the health workers is the fruit of the people's struggle in the Philippines and internationally.

After ten months in detention they had this to say: “We're happy to be free, and excited to help provide healthcare to communities. Excited to again be able to serve the people!” These words inspire us and give us courage. The struggle for health is far from easy but, indeed, there's nothing more rewarding than serving the people. While we're hoping that the remaining ten Philippine health workers will be released soon, we salute the newly released health workers and wish them good luck as they take up their tasks again in the people's movement.

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Justice for the 43!