Health group hits CHR decision on harassment
By CHESTCORE (PR)
BAGUIO CITY — The Community Health Education Services and Trainings in the Cordillera Region (Chestcore) condemned the Commission on Human Rights-Cordillera Administrative Region (CHR-CAR) for declaring the nine cases of threat harassment and intimidation against health workers and volunteers “closed and terminated.”
In an emailed statement, Romella L. Comia Rasalan of Chestcore called CHR-CAR useless after declaring their complaints closed with finality. She reiterated that CHR failed to fulfill its mandate of protecting and promoting human rights.
Rasalan pointed out that the CHR decision undermined the dangers and trauma the Chestcore staff and volunteers went through when they were put under surveillance and received death threats. She added that the decision limited the principles of human rights in a purely legal framework.
“It also downplayed the dangers of its declaration of certain communities as “red areas” and the vilification of development workers like us, continuously making us open targets of human rights violations. It negated the human rights context of Cordillera communities who are eking out their survival and sacrificing lives in their continuing historical struggle to defend land and resources against development aggression pushed by the state,” the statement further read.
The CHR decision dated June 20 declared the case of harassment and unjust vexation filed against certain John Does Manaois, Galera, Enriquez and Raton of the Philippine Army filed by Chestcore staff and volunteers Fatima Sabaten, Renay Maguinsay, Rosalinda Suyam and Rene Balintao “closed and terminated”. This was after the victims appealed for CHR to reconsider its earlier decision on March 9, 2010.
It can be recalled that CHR in its earlier decision dismissed the same case due to lack of merit despite the absence of counter affidavits of respondents. In the said decision CHR cited that the area where the incident happened was declared as a “red area” and that the incident does not constitute a case of harassment and unjust vexation as defined and penalized by law.
In its recent resolution, CHR reiterated that a case could not be filed against the respondents as it recognized that the soldiers’ actions were unwarranted. “Sadly, however, despite these findings this office could not recommend filing of a complaint of Unjust Vexation against respondents because the same light felony prescribing two months was allegedly committed sometime on June, 2007 and thus has already prescribed.”
Rasalan further pointed out that there is a systematic attack against community health workers in the country. She condemned these attacks and demanded justice for all the victims. “We raise our fists in protest and demand for justice for our colleagues,” she stressed.
Among the cases Rasalan mentioned was the recent killing of Willem Geertman, the Dutch executive director of Alay Bayan Luson, Incorporated (ABI)last July 3. She said that Geertman is have been actively participated in based. She added that he was also at forefront of protests against large-scale mining.
She also mentioned the ambush of Dr. Chandu Claver and family in Kalinga in 2009. Dr. Claver survived the attack but his wife died of fatal gunshot wounds. On the same year, two doctors were also killed followed by a slay attempt on Ronald Capitanea, a communityin Negros Occidental in 2010.
Other cases include the illegal arrest, detention and torture of 43 health workers in February 2010. The said health workers were released 10 months after as a result of protests and political pressure on the Aquino government. November 2010, Leonard Co, the country’s most famous botanist, was killed in Leyte, by soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as attested by witnesses and evidence.
Rasalan said the Philippine government’s failure to eliminate extrajudicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances despite being a party to human rights instruments and international convention at the Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations. She stressed that CHR-CAR’s decision is yet another example of this failure.
She added that the CHR-CAR decision helped the perpetrators and not the victims and has reinforced the culture of impunity tolerated by the present administration. She added that the same decision also aided the smoother implementation of the deceptive internal security plan of the government the Oplan Bayanihan that serves as a blanket of protection over elements of the AFP in guarding and protecting big foreign business interests devastating and plundering the region’s resources adversely affecting the health and lives of the people.
“The CHR-CAR leaves us to our own recourse in the protection and assertion of our rights. now rise, together with our communities, as we strengthen our ranks to further pursue our struggle to assert the people’s right to health,” the statement ended. # nordis.net