February 8, 2010
As thousands of Filipino health professionals are driven away from the country because of lack of enough opportunities, the government terrorizes the very few who chose to stay and serve their fellow citizens, Council for Health and Development revealed in a press conference held in Quezon City.
In a statement, Eleanor A. Jara, medical doctor and Executive Director of Council for Health and Development said that at 6:15 am yesterday, February 6, 2010, medical doctors, nurses, and Community Health Workers (CHWs) were frisked, blindfolded and forcibly taken by combined heavily armed elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army and the Rizal Philippine National Police. The troop numbered to about 300, reports said.
Council for Health and Development is the National Secretariat of more than 50 community-based health programs in the entire Philippines.
“The raiding team showed a bogus search warrant and herded our doctors, nurses, and Community Health Workers conducting health skills training-seminar in the house of Dr. Melecia Velmonte,” Jara said.
“CHD denies the claim of Col. Aurelio Baladad of the Philippine Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade to the media that the participants were undergoing a bomb-making training. We further condemn the AFP and PNP’s action of planting evidences such as guns and ammunitions in the training venue. In truth, the participants were holding a first responders’ health skills training-seminar aimed to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and skills of health professionals and Community Health Workers to develop their capacities in providing health care services to the poorest of the poor,” Jara added.
Dr. Julie Caguiat of the Community Medicine Foundation further explained that such brazen act was clearly a state effort to terrorize health professionals and health workers that work among the people.
Dr. Jara lamented that the abducted health professionals and CHWs are among those that serve far-flung villages where government personnel and services are lacking or are simply absent. Because of their passion and dedication to serve their fellow Filipinos, these health professionals and CHWs brave difficult work environments and meager salaries just so they could be of service where they are most needed, Jara added.
“Instead of supporting and lauding their efforts and sacrifices, what does Mrs. Arroyo’s government do? Her military and police abduct these health professionals and CHWs and violate their rights. In effect, the delivery of health services in the poorest communities is derailed,” Jara said.
The ratio of doctor to patient in the Philippines is pegged by the Department of Health at 1:30,000.
As of press time, the military has denied the relatives and co-workers of the victims to see or speak to them.
“The military has done it again, this condemnable incident adds up to the long list of human rights violation against health workers and community-based health practitioners.
We call on all health professional organizations and the entire Filipino people to denounce state terrorism in the strongest possible terms. We enjoin our colleagues in the health profession as well as the entire Filipino nation to stand united and demand for the release of the abducted health personnel,” Jara concluded.
Julie Caguiat, MD
Executive Director – COMMED
Eleanor A. Jara, MD
Executive Director – CHD