By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — A community health worker in Negros Occidental was wounded when fired upon by unidentified motorcycle-riding men in Barangay Manlacahoc, Sipalay City on Feb. 23. The attack on Ronaldo Capitania came on the heels of the arrest of the 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal, on Feb. 6.
Capitania, 24, single, who earns a living as a habal-habal (motorcycle) driver, was on his way to Barangay Cambugiot to fetch a regular passenger when he noticed two men wearing ski masks on a motorcycle tailing him, the Negros Island Health Integrated Program (NIHIP) said.
Capitania was able to flee but the men fired at him thrice, hitting him on his shoulders and abdomen. NIHIP said that despite the pain, Capitiana remembered the Basic Health Skills Training 1 given to him by volunteer nurses. He was able to minimize the bleeding by applying pressure on his wounds.
Capitania is now confined at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH) in Bacolod City. According to NIHIP, his colleagues suspect that the military is behind the shooting because their organization was active in the campaign calling for the withdrawal of the military detachment inside the barangay hall.
Capitania was one of the 30 community health workers (CHW) who finished a one-year ladderized health training sponsored by the Council for Health and Development (CHD) and NIHIP last Nov. 22, 2009. Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the 43 health workers illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal, was one of those who distributed diplomas for the graduates of the South CHW Association where Capitania served.
Capitania is also the Public Information Officer of Camindangan Small Farmers Association (CASFA), a partner organization of NIHIP in southern Negros.
Analyn Pabiona, a volunteer nurse of NIHIP, said the military has been using the barangay hall in Manlacahoc as their detachment for quite some time already. Since then, the soldiers are seen everywhere brandishing long firearms.
“There was an instance when we were conducting a health training in the same barangay and the military just went inside bearing their long firearms. They took pictures. Some of our participants hurriedly went home because they were terrified of the presence of soldiers,” Pabiona said in a telephone interview with Bulatlat.
Fred Caña, secretary general of Karapatan-Negros, identified the military unit operating in Sipalay to be the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
Caña said that since 2001, there have been 35 victims of extrajudicial killings in Negros island. Eleven were killed last year, most of whom are farmers.
“We will definitely do something about this, as of now we are still firming things up. We are condemning this harassment to community health workers. We are calling for the withdrawal of the military detachment here in our place,” Pabiona said. (Bulatlat.com)