Sunday, July 31, 2011

Health group threatened anew

BAGUIO CITY — A day before the PNoy’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), a staff of the Community Health Education, Service and Training in the Cordillera Region (CHESTCORE) received a threat on her mobile number again.

At about noon on July 24, Sunday, Milagros Ao-wat received threats from cell number 09093118024 indicating close surveillance on her whereabouts and activities.

“Ingat kau, labas kau ng labas kasla kayo met gamin sigsiguro. Apay dayta trabaho yo mano ti bayad no matay kayo. Parangal laeng met.. ay ay ay. Narigat ti mabrainwash ta haan nga makita ti usto,” (Take care, you are always going out, you are very daring. Why? How much will you get from your work when you die? Only a tribute … ay ay ay. It is hard to be brainwashed because you cannot see what is right) one text message read.

This was followed by another saying, “Sinowak? Haan masapul ti nagan ko. Ammoyo met nu cno dagiti agininteresado kadakayo. Kuna yo nga iharharas mi dakayo,” (Who am I? You don’t need to know my name. You know very well who are after you. You said that we are harassing you).

“Threats continue. Nothing has changed despite Pnoy’s promise of a ‘matuwid na daan’! ,” Romella Liquigan-Rasalan, the Executive Director of CHESTCORE said. The group she said strongly condemns the continuing assault on their staff and their institution inspite of their continuing resolve to render health services.

In earlier reports, Ao-wat, a CHESTCORE staff member revealed to have received several death threats last December, 2010 and January, 2011 on her phone.

“The threats have not stopped. This is appalling because what we do is provide much-needed health services and yet, this is what we get,” Ao-wat said.

“We have already reported this to the Commission on Human Rights. They have yet to bring out their report on the past cases and now, there are new threats,” Rasalan added.

March this year, CHESTCORE launched a campaign to stop the harassment of Cordillera health workers as it exposed continuing threats that happened on staff and volunteers when in Baguio and during field work since 2007.

The campaign aimed not only to expose the threats but to help assert people’s right to health. CHESTCORE, a non-government health institution founded in 1981, has been serving far-flung Northern Luzon communities which are not reached by government health services or where these are insufficient. Unfortunately, instead of being commended for their work, CHESTCORE has been accused of being New People’s Army (NPA) supporters or their staff accused as being NPAs themselves.

“This is not really surprising even if people pinned much hope for change under this administration,” Jude Baggo, the secretary-general of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said. PNoy he added has launched his Oplan Bayanihan last December 2010, an anti-insurgency program that includes among its features the vilification or the tagging of progressive organizations as underground organizations.

“This has replaced then president Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya that accounted for the more than 1000 extra-judicial killings among militant groups” he added.

“But this has to stop!,” he stressed. Thus, he said they highlighted CHESTCORE’s case in their Assembly last July 28 & 29 in Ifugao especially in the launching of their anti-vilification campaign.

CHESTCORE and CHRA vowed to put in greater efforts in this campaign to gain broader support in these cases and to stop continuing human rights violations in the region. #

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