By COMMUNITY HEALTH EDUCATION, SERVICES AND TRAINING IN THE CORDILLERA REGION (CHESTCORE)
Rachel Mariano is a staff and is concurrently the Health Program Desk Coordinator of the Community Health, Education, Services and Training in the Cordillera (Chestcore) based in Baguio City. In late August 2017, we learned from the Ilocos Human Rights Advocates and concerned personnel at the Department of Justice about an investigation regarding a gun firing incidents involving one of our staff.
We denounce the prosecution of development workers, human rights defenders and political activists as we note that Rachel is among the five women named in the Investigation data form of the Department of Justice along with 18 individuals for frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder related to a gun firing incident between a group of New Peoples Army and the Armed Forces in the Philippines on August 4, 2017 in Sigay, Ilocos Sur. The warrant of arrest is expected any time soon.
For several years she has actively been involved in the education and training of community health workers in the six Cordillera provinces. As the Health Program Desk Coordinator, she headed the Community Health Workers Training in the different provinces in the Cordillera since 2004. The trained community health workers served as the frontliners in safeguarding the health care system of their respective communities whereby the end goal is the development of community based health program (CBHP) in the far-flung areas.
Under the Medical Services Desk Program, she relates and consults with the Friends Of Chestcore (FOC) network composed of doctors (dentists, psychiatrists, medical doctors) and psychologists who are helping patients referred by the community health workers through Chestcore’s office. What is appalling in this accusation is that on that date Rachel was at the office doing her daily routine of coordinating activities with partners as part of her tasks.
We assert that these trumped-up charges are maligning health workers like Rachel and the other women included in the investigation data form. It is a part of a nationwide scheme that aims to cripple the mass movement that is working towards attaining basic social services, including health services.
We believe that the continuing persecution of health workers would certainly affect the services benefitting the far-flung communities in the Cordillera. We take our inspiration from the fact that we are committed to a wholisitic health care system for all especially the indigenous peoples’ communities who are denied of basic social services.
Rachel is a health educator, trainer and service provider. If the state keeps on threatening her of arrest and eventual detention, it is depriving its citizens of their chance to receive proper trainings and efficient health services.
Thus, we demand that the trumped up charges against all political activists and development workers are dropped immediately for these are baseless and fabricated. We condemn this State-sponsored terrorism using the Philippine justice system to harass, intimidate, threaten and “neutralize” whom they tag as enemies of the state. # nordis.net