By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Aisah Mariano, 23 called on government forces to stop harassing and vilifying activists and development workers like her mother.
“It angers me to think how easy for government forces to fabricate charges against activists and development workers who did nothing wrong but dedicate their lives to serve the poor and marginalized,” Aisah said.
Aisah is the oldest daughter of Rachel Mariano, one of the five women human rights defenders accused of being New People’s Army guerillas by soldiers of the 7th ID.
Rachel with Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Sherry Mae Soledad, Joanne Villanueva, Asia Isabella Gepte, Shirley Ann Angiwot and 18 others were named in an investigation data form as having been involved in a clash with government troops in Sitio Mabileg, Brgy. San Ramon, Sigay, Ilocos Sur on August 4. They were accused by a certain Corporal Melvin Sevilla Saura. They have been charged with ten counts of multiple attempted murder.
Aisah said her mother chose to serve far flung Cordillera communities deprived of basic health care sevices.
“My mother and her organization provides much needed health care services to communities that have not been serviced by the government but why do government soldiers paint an evil picture of her and even go to the extent of filing false charges against her,” Aisah said.
Aisah said the trumped up charges hamper her mother’s work. “Instead of going to the communities to serve more people, she has to face these false accusations,” she said.
Rachel is a member of the Community Health Education Services and Trainings in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore), a non-government organization dedicated to provide and equip marginalized communities in the region with basic health care services.
Aisah said that because of work, her mother is away most of the time. “She spends several weeks in the communities. When I was younger I was resentful and did not understand why she had to leave us for weeks. But when I got to see for myself what she does, I came to appreciate her sacrifices,” she said.
Aisah said she was 14 years old when her mother tagged her along in one of their medical missions in Malibcong, Abra. They brought medicines and conducted basic health care trainings. “We taught the people basic home remedies for fever, cough and other common diseases so they could manage on their own,” she said.
Aisah learned from the people that the nearest hospital was hours away and that no health workers has visited their community, except her mother’s group.
After her Malibcong experience, she would tag along with her mother when her schedule permitted.
Aisah is now 23, a graduate of BS Biology and a liscensed teacher.
“What struck me the most during our medical missions is the warmth and love the community folk showed us,” Aisah said.
She said the community folk would thank them a dozen of times for the service they have rendered.
She further said that even when they do not see them for many years, the people they have served would hug them wherever they meet them. She said that there were even times when she fails to recognize them but the community folk would remind them about how they met.
“I am proud of my mother, I admire her commitment and courage that even amid persecution and even threat to her life, she persists,” Aisah said. # nordis.net