Friday, February 12, 2010

Health alert

I am not a health buff. This blog's name attests to that.

What I am is a human rights buff and the illegal arrest, detention and torture of 43 health workers just makes me sick.

Two doctors, one nurse, one midwife and a host of community health workers were arrested last Saturday in Morong, Rizal while they were in the middle of a health training conducted by the NGO Council for Health and Development. A cursory glance at their website reveals that that is exactly what they do – train community health workers and build community-based health programs to provide the needs of communities where people get sick or die without even seeing a medical professional.

Consider these: forcible entry to a private place of domicile, a search warrant that was only produced after the operation and was issued by a Cavite court for a person that the house's owner – a respected consultant at the Philippine General Hospital – has never heard of, finding a grenade under a pillow, a so-called witness who miraculously came out and pointed fingers to his "comrades". It gets more incredulous every day the arresting military unit tries to stick the "NPA" tag to those they are currently holding that even include two pregnant women.

As relayed by one of the detainees, Dr. Mia-Clamor, they have been subjected to mental and physical torture just so they will be forced to admit to fabricated membership to the NPA and even more fabricated crimes.

Their only membership is to humanity that cannot be said to those who trample on human rights. Their only crime is to deliver one of the most basic of social services to the poor that the government has long denied.

In the face of what happened to the Morong 43 or Health 43 as activist groups call them, smoking one pack a day, drinking coffee by the buckets, and missing out on my workout for two months now (and counting!) is not as unhealthy as the culture of impunity that has grown like a cancer in our society for the past decade.