Monday, January 24, 2011

Morong 43 back at giving health services to the people

Over a month after they were released from the confines of a civilian detention, members of the Morong 43 are back doing what they have committed themselves to – serving the marginalized sectors of society by providing much-needed health services. Four of the Morong 43 serving as staffs of a health NGO which sponsored the First Responder’s Health Skills Training last February 2010 participated in Medical and Dental Mission today in Ina ng Lupang Pangako, Urban, Payatas B, Quezon City. Sponsored by the Filipino Ministry of San Bernardino California, Kilos Bayan para sa Kalusugan (KBK), Samahang Pangkalusugan ng Payatas (SaPaPa), Ina ng Lupang Pangako Parish – Parish Pastoral Council, and Council for Health and Development (CHD), the medical and dental mission is expected to benefit more than 600 patients today. Medical doctors, dentists, nurses, community health workers and health science students who actively supported the campaign to release the 43 health workers last year also join the activity.

“Despite what we have gone through in the hands of state forces, we are resolute in our commitment to serve the poor and lay the foundations of a people-managed health care,” said Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, among the previously detained health workers and current Director of CHD’s Health Education, Training and Services Department. Meanwhile, Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, Executive Director of CHD related that “this is a landmark medical and dental mission” for their organization because they are now joined by Dr. Mia-Clamor, CBHP doctor; Ma. Teresa Quinawayan, midwife and Field Assistance Unit staff; Ms. Delia Ocasla, community health worker and Reynaldo Macabenta, administrative staff.

She added that the “continued support of local and international groups and individuals in community based health care” play a major role in the continuing struggle for access to public health care in the Philippines.

Payatas, tragically famous for the trashslide that buried hundreds of persons in 2000, remains one of the poorest population in the city. Many residents, surviving on a hand to mouth existence largely depend on scavenging Payatas’ “mountains” for food and recyclable materials. The mountain’s height is fast becoming an issue of concern among residents as history might be reprised.

The medical and dental mission is done in cooperation with different organizations and volunteer dentists and physicians. “For as long as there is inequality and oppression in the Philippine society, CHD together with its 60 member programs will continue to work with the people for their right to health and struggle for social change,” Dr. Jara ended.##

Reference: Eleanor A. Jara, M.D.
Executive Director, Council for Health and Development
(+63) 0917-9789297 / (+632) 929-8109

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cal-Nevada's Philippines Solidarity Task Force Celebrates Release of 'Morong 43'

"The Philippines Solidarity Task Force celebrates with the people of the California-Nevada Annual Conference for a great work done," exults the Rev. Felicisimo ("Fel") Cao.

The community health workers known as "Morong 43," whose arrest and detention by the Philippines military was widely condemned, have been released.

In June, 2010 the Cal-Nevada Annual Conference Session approved a recommendation submitted by the Philippines Solidarity Task Force to support actions by the General Board of Global Ministries, World Council of Churches, and National Councils of Churches in both the U.S. and the Philippines, in protesting the arrests. The Secretary of the Annual Conference was directed to send a letter demanding release of the Morong 43 to the newly elected Philippines President, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino, III.

On Human Rights Day, President Aquino ordered the Philippines Department of Justice to withdraw the charges against the health workers – abducted while undergoing training for their health work in the remote and poor areas of the Philippines, under claims that they were suspected of being members of the New People's Army, the armed wing of the Communist party of the Philippines.

"The Morong 43 health workers suffered from illegal arrest, detention, torture, and were denied proper health care intervention – as two women gave birth in detention," Rev. Cao states.

The release of the Morong 43 follows pressure from the Philippines Solidarity Task Force and the California-Nevada Annual Conference Session, along with other Philippines and international human rights groups and churches, for the Philippines government "to do the right and just thing," says Cao.

Task force member the Rev. Ruth Cortez (retired) wrote, "Every step in response to our claims and petitions is a point of thanksgiving and celebration. Yet it is an opening for us to pursue the other issues – and the bigger and more fundamental and historical struggles – that the PDO (poor, deprived and oppressed) Filipinos continue to wage. But again, an auspicious opening like this is something that we are grateful for."

A Philippines Solidarity Task Force delegation left for the Philippines on January 4th. The delegation, headed by task force member Jeanelle Ablola, Minister of Youth and Outreach at Buena Vista UMC in Alameda, will work in partnership with the Manila Area of the UMC and National Council of Churches in the Philippines, and is expected to have an opportunity to visit and have a dialogue with the released health workers.

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