30 health workers, teachers, community organizers, and allies gathered outside the Philippine Consulate in Vancouver on the eve the Philippines Presidential Inauguration to the demand the release of 43 health workers that have been detained since February 6, 2010.
“These courageous health care workers provide essential health care to poor and marginalized communities in the Philippines, often at great personal sacrifice” said Martha Roberts of the Alliance for People’s Health. “Absolutely no evidence has been produced that would justify their imprisonment or the supposed links to the armed New People’s Army.”
The Philippines currently spends 6 times more on the military and 63 times more on IMF/WB debt servicing than on health care to its own citizens. As a consequence of privatization and the labour export program of the government of the Philippines many Filipinos have virtually no access to health care. At the time of their abduction the 43 health care workers who have come to be known as the ‘Morong 43’ were participating in a “first responders” health training to respond to the unmet need in their own communities.
“One of the detainees I have known since 2003. Ma. Teresa Quinawayan, is a midwife who provides care to the most marginalized mothers of Filipino society. The accusation that with one hand she brings life into this world, and with the other she builds bombs, is simply outrageous. Doctor Merry Mia-Clamor I have personally witnessed, on a number of occasions, examining patients with the deepest love and respect. And Reynaldo Macabenta repeatedly took time to make my own young children feel welcome and comfortable in a new culture and environment, ensuring that our needs were met and we had someone we could rely on for help” Ms. Roberts elaborated. “These women and men should be lauded for their contribution to Filipino society, not condemned to languish in prison. This case is symbolic of the pattern of human rights abuses of the past decade under the Arroyo regime. It is our hope that President Aquino will chart a new path, starting with the immediate and unconditional release of these brave health care workers.”