Children of detained health workers appeal for parent’s release

Egoy, 4-year old son of Dr. Merry Mia Clamor, says his mother is a doctor and treats patients and wants her home to be with his 1-year old sister. With him is his father, Jigs, KARAPATAN Deputy Secretary-General (Arkibong Bayan)

QUEZON CITY, March 6, 2010—Egoy Clamor is only four years old and longs for his mother, Merry. Though a little bit sad, his concern is much for the patients of his mother at the government-run Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

“Ang nanay kong doktora laging nasa PGH kasi marami siyang pasyente dun… pero noon yun. Ngayon, kawawa naman ang mga pasyente ni Nanay kasi kinulong na siya. Wala naman siyang kasalanan. Paano na ang mga pasyente niya? (My mom, a doctor, is always at the PGH because she has so many patients there. Now, her patients suffer because she’s in prison. She did not commit any crime. How will her patients cope now?),” he said in a statement.

Egoy is the son of Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor, one of the 43 health workers arrested while in a medical training in Morong, Rizal last February 6. The elements of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, represented by the 202nd Infantry Brigade stress that Clamor and her colleagues are all members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

However, the supporters of the Morong 43, which the group of health workers is popularly know, say that they are not insurgents but legitimate health workers servicing the poor in the countryside, usually not reached by the government’s health service.

“They want their mothers and kin”

“As we are about to celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 8, children of the Morong 43 want their mother, sisters and other relatives to celebrate the day together with them, outside camp Capinpin and away from any harm, threat and abuse,” says Sophia Garduce of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, a nongovernmental organization, advancing children’s rights and welfare.

Dr. Merry Mia-Clamor with children patients. (Photo courtesy by Terence Krishna V. Lopez)

The 34-year old lady obtained her medical degree at the Pamantasang Lungsod ng Maynila (University of the City of Manila) in 2001 and joined the health NGO, Council for Health and Development (CHD), Inc.

Aside from Egoy, three-year old Paula also misses her mother, Teresa Quinawayan, a midwife also working with the CHD.

Alarmed over harassment, deception

On the other hand, Garduce says that the relatives, colleagues and friends of Morong 43 are alarmed over the reports that the military are resorting to psychological pressure by using the detainee’s family and relatives, such as threatening harm or luring them with cash or material incentives, to implicate themselves or their co-detainees as members of the New People’s Army.

There are also reports that the three health workers, Valentino Paulino, Elenor Carandang and Chenily Tawagon were forced to get another lawyer.

“We’ve heard that the three of the 43 (health workers) were taken by the AFP and were forced to get a new lawyer. And we are actually condemning that because it is unethical because the three health workers already have their own lawyer. It is a part of their dirty tactic because they do not have enough evidence to persecute the 43 and they are now making up charges, making up stories to justify their maneuvers. They are forcing the 43 to admit being NPAs (New Peoples Army) and that is a clear violation of their rights,” says Dr. Geneve E. Rivera-Reyes, secretary-general of the Health Alliance for Democracy in an interview.

On the other hand, Garduce attested that Dr. Clamor and the others are real doctors, nurses, and health workers and not NPAs.

“Nanay Merry is not only a mother to Egoy, she is also a mother to all students in the day care center as she conducts regular check ups for the children and provides medical service anytime she is needed. As the 43 health workers continue to languish under the hands of their illegal custodians and torturers, thousands of children in rural and urban poor areas are being deprived of their health services,” Garduce said.

Keep the children alone, military told

Moreover, Garduce warns the military not to touch or approach any child or relative of the detainees.

“The impunity of the present government, ironically headed by a woman president, creates a society of orphans, traumatized children and broken families through extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance, displacement, massacres and illegal arrest and detention. Salinlahi believes that Mrs. Arroyo’s coddling of this culture of impunity and continued tyrannical rule is only made possible because our society is in a de facto martial rule,” she explained.

On Monday, children of the Morong 43 and all other children victim of alleged injustice and terror of this government will join the sea of protesters in Manila, as the international community commemorates the International Women’s Day on March 8.

When asked what he wants on Women’s Day, Egoy said: “Palayain si Nanay Merry!” (Story also in CBCPNews.com)