‘Stop bombing Gaza hospitals!’ Filipino health groups tell Israel

Filipino health professionals and organizations called for an immediate stop to attacks on hospitals and civilians in Gaza as the Israeli siege of Palestinian territory enters its sixth week.

Fifty six doctors, nurses, other health workers and students in a petition said hospitals and other health facilities in the besieged territory must be spared from further attacks by Israeli military forces that started last October 7.

Officers and members of the Health Alliance for Democracy, Health Action for Human Rights, Council for Health and Development, Alliance of Health Workers, Community Medical Practitioners and Advocates Association, Filipino Nurses United, Philippine Medical Students Association (PMSA) and the Philippine Nursing Students Association called on Israel to uphold International Humanitarian Law that excludes hospitals from the list of military targets.

The petition was also signed by employees unions and associations of the National Children’s Hospital, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Philippine General Hospital, Tondo Medical Center, Philippine Heart Center, San Lazaro Hospital, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center and Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center as well as the Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center chapter of the PMSA.

“We denounce the November 15 raid of Israeli Defense Force in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Thousands were affected, vulnerable patients trapped, staff and other civilians displaced as they run out of medical supplies and fuel,” the petitioners said.

The petitioners also said they strongly condemn the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital bombing on October 17 that killed around 500 people and injured thousands more.

The groups, citing United Nations (UN) reports, said hospitals in North Gaza suffer heavy strikes and forcing almost all health facilities in the area to cease operations.

Some 1,000 kidney failure patients as well as 2,000 cancer patients and 130 premature babies in incubators are at immediate risk of death due to the collapse of the health care system, the groups cited.

Israel also repeatedly issued evacuation orders to hospitals and other medical facilities in Gaza, which the World Health Organization said is a “death sentence to the sick and injured.”

“We grieve for the more than 11,078 people killed, more than 4,600 of whom are children. We sympathize with the 27,490 people injured, and 1.6 million internally displaced. During the first month of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, over 300 Gazans died each day, bringing the death toll to more than 12,000,” the petition further said.

The petitioners also said they salute the doctors, nurses and other health and humanitarian workers who continue treating the wounded and sick amid Israel’s evacuation orders and attacks despite, deaths among their ranks and threats to their lives.

As of November 12, over 102 UN employees have been killed inside Gaza, alongside 182 health care workers.

“We call for the protection of all civilians, medical and humanitarian personnel, and unimpeded access to essential humanitarian supplies, including food, water, shelter, medicine, fuel and electricity,” the groups said, adding they stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for peace and freedom in Palestine. # (Raymund B.Villanueva)

Rights defenders at UN: Violations continue amid worsening economic crisis in PH

Filipino rights defenders urged the United Nations (UN) anew to investigate violations in the Philippines at the ongoing 53rd Human Rights Council (HRC) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

Representatives of organizations Center for Environmental Concerns, Coalition for People’s Rights to Health, Council for Health and Development, IBON Foundation, Kilusang Mayo Uno and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said abuses and lack of accountability are continuing under the year-old Ferdinand Marcos Jr. presidency.

The human rights violations are happening amid worsening economic crisis, the groups that are part of the Philippine Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Network said.

The organizations reported it participated in interactive dialogues with UN Special Rapporteurs reporting before the UN HRC on the issues of physical and mental health, protection and promotion of human rights in the context of climate change, and the independence of judges and lawyers.

NUPL chairperson Edre Olalia (left) in a side event at the United Nations Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. (Supplied photo)

They added they have talked to other UN experts, working group members and their representatives, including those on enforced disappearances; extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; peaceful assembly and of association; independence of judges and lawyers; climate change; right to food; business and human rights; and on leprosy.

“Beyond the optics and rhetoric of the Marcos Jr. administration, we come once again to the UN to hold power to account by presenting our data and recommendations,” NUPL chairperson Edre Olalia said.

Olalia added that their reports can serve as an alternative to State-backed narratives on the rights of the Filipino people.

In March, Philippine government representatives formally accepted select recommendations made by UN HRC member states at the 4th cycle of the UPR of the country’s human rights record held last November.

The Philippine UPR Watch said that there is lack of progress on civil and political rights violations in the country, adding there remains the absence of significant measures to address “deeply-rooted problems.”

The groups said these include problems on wages and job-security, precarious and hazardous work, poverty and inequality, ill health and poor services, and environmental distress and climate change.

“By failing to install robust mechanisms and staunch guardrails to respect, protect and fulfil human rights in the Philippines, those who raise dissent or dare challenge State narratives face harassment, intimidation, red-tagging, surveillance, or death,” the delegation said in a statement.

“The lives of countless workers, lawyers, judges, health workers, environment defenders, and development workers are senselessly taken, and basic democratic rights are continuously attacked with impunity,” Olalia further explained.

The human rights lawyers however said these fuel their resolve to tirelessly make their voices heard by the international community and to ask them to investigate injustices in the Philippines.

The 53rd Regular Session of the UN HRC is ongoing from June 19 to July 14. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Public sector workers protest over pay hike

Declaring a “Black Heart’s Day,” public sector workers trooped to Mendiola leading to Malacanang Palace in Manila to denounce Pres. Benigno Aquino III and Budget Sec. Florencio Abad for the Salary Standardization Law 4 (SSL 4) discriminating pay and benefits for the country’s 1.5 million government workers. Similar actions were held in Baguio, Angeles, Naga, Legazpi, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao and other cities in the Philippines.

LCPEA-AHW: Daang nakamamatay, hindi tuwid na daan

IMG_6719Nagpiket ang mga manggagawang pangkalusugan sa harap ng Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) para ihayag ang mariing pagtutol sa planong pagtatayo ng kalsada sa loob mismo ng LCP. Ayon kay Eleazar Sobinsky, pangulo ng Lung Center of the Philippines Employees Association – Alliance of Health Workers (LCPEA-AHW), “Hindi makatuwiran na maglagay pa ng kalsada sa loob mismo ng compound ng hospital dahil napapaligiran na kami ng maraming kalsada. Ang usok na lilikhain ng mga sasakyan na dadaan sa loob ng compound ay tiyak na makasasama sa kalusugan ng mga pasyenteng may sakit sa baga na nagpapagamot sa LCP.”

Ang planong pagtatayo ng kalsada ay inaprubahan daw ng Pangulong Noynoy Aquino sa ilalim ng Quezon City Central Business District Road Network Plan at ipatutupad bago pa umalis sa pwesto ang pangulo.


Nanawagan naman ang Alliance of Health Workers sa mga pamilyang dumadalaw sa ospital na sumama sa “SONA ng bayan” kasabay ng huling SONA ng pangulo sa July 27 para samasamang isigaw ang kapabayaan sa programang pangkalusugan ng gobyernong Aquino.


Lung Center of the Philippines

July 24, 2015

Health Groups: Justice for Calago Couple, Stop Attacks Against Health Workers

On June 25, 2015, Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR) joins the Council for Health and Development (CHD) in a press conference at the Max Restaurant, Quezon Avenue, Quezon City to condemn the brutal murder, by suspected state elements, of Barangay Health Worker (BHW) Rosalie “Saling” Calago and her husband Barangay Kagawad and community leader Endric “Bayoto” Calago last May 24, 2015 at Sitio Bantayan, Barangay Tacpao, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental.

According to Dr. Magdalena Barcelon of CHD, “The couple was strafed by bullets, and their bodies scorched inside their home at around 10:00 PM by suspected elements of the 11th Infantry Battalion based in Brgy. Mckinley, Guihulngan City. This is the latest in a series of brazen attacks against health workers involving the AFP and a testament to its long history of human rights violations.”

Aside from being a BHW, Saling, 45 years old, is also a Barangay Nutrition Scholar, a barefoot reporter of local radio programs Kaling Kag Tugda and Pugasan in Negros and Cebu, and a supporter of Community Health Workers (CHWs) in their locality. Bayoto, 47, is a Barangay Kagawad (village official) and Vice-Chairperson of Kaugmaon-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. The couple are also members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Dr. Edelina dela Paz of HAHR explains that, “Health professionals, health workers, and health advocates such as the Calago couple dedicate their whole time and effort in order to serve the masses, especially in our country where adequate health services are inaccessible to the poor and the far-flung areas. This is why it is unacceptable that military elements continue to commit such heinous crimes against healthcare providers yet they remain unpunished. The government refuses to neither condemn nor investigate human rights abuses committed by the AFP.”

HAHR has tallied several cases of violations committed by the AFP and its paramilitary forces. In Manila, health advocates are accused of being armed, and portrayed by the police as ‘enemies of the state’. In Samar, a 70-personnel medical mission team for Typhoon Yolanda survivors was repeatedly shadowed by military forces which scared-away the civilians from availing the services. At least 50 community health professionals and workers were subjected to harassment, threats, illegal arrests, or filed trumped-up charges in Baguio, Cabanatuan, Cebu, Bukidnon, and Zamboanga. In Negros, Misamis Oriental, Davao, and CARAGA, frustrated murders and extrajudicial killings, at least 6 cases, were committed since 2006 against CHWs who simply stood-up for their rights, but neither suspect nor perpetrator has been prosecuted.

In the light of the incident on the Calago couple, HAHR and CHD challenge the Department of Health (DOH) and the Aquino administration to conduct an impartial, thorough, and speedy investigation so that justice may be served and the people behind the crime will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Likewise, HAHR and CHD challenge the DOH and the Aquino administration to protect the rights of its people including the health workers.

“Under fire, we, health workers pledge to strengthen our commitment to serving the masses, and fortify the struggle to achieve just and lasting peace in pursuit of the people’s health and human rights. Hopefully, all of these will redound to achieving justice and end the culture of impunity in the Philippines”, concluded Dr. Barcelon.###

Sit-down strike against privatization of Orthopedic Center

Philippine Orthopedic Center, Quezon City
March 13, 2015

Hundreds of health workers, patients and their families today converge at the hospital’s drive way and with clenched fists, chant “Save POC” and “Junk PPP/Privatization” and “On site developement with public funds”.

“Let us send our strong message to Sec. Garin and Malacanang that privatizing POC will be the death of a public hospital specializing in bone deseases. It would mean the deprivation of around 500 outpatient poor people who patiently line up as early as 4 am until 5 pm everday to be treated. Also the 80-90% poor patients who are hospitalized for one month to more than 10 years and who rely only to the hospital’s equipments and expertise in order to live,” says Mr. Sean Velchez, president of National Orthopedic Health Workers Union-Alliance of Health Workers.