Member of Morong 43 who had given birth back to prison

Judielyn Carina Oliveros (G. E. Rivera-Reyes/Arkibong Bayan)

ANTIPOLO CITY, August 19, 2010—The Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance was disappointed over the decision by the Morong Regional Trial Court (RTC) of denying Judielyn Carina Oliveros, motion for release, together with her new born child.

Oliveros, 26, had just given birth to her son at the Philippine General Hospital last week of July.

Her lawyers had filed a petition, together with another pregnant member of the Morong 43, Mercy Castro who is due come October. Also filed a motion for immediate release were Jane Balleta, granddaughter of the late Anakpawis Rep. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran, who was confined at the PGH months ago due to epileptic seizures, and Yolanda Bellesa, who suffers from major depression.

In her pictures posted at the social networking site, Facebook, Oliveros is seen handcuffed and boarded on a wheelchair, escorted by an officer from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

The Free the 43 Health Workers Alliance had been appealing to President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to immediately release the health workers, saying that they are just victims of the former regime are red baiting.

Meanwhile, notwithstanding the alleged persecution of volunteer health workers in the countryside, the Council for Health and Development (CHD) had their general assembly last August 12, to “reaffirm their dedication and commitment to serve impoverished communities.”

“[The] delegates came from Bicol, Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, National Capital Region, Eastern Visayas, Central and Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Caraga, SOCSSARGENS, and the Zamboanga Peninsula. They have braved and survived risks for the sake of community health service… [And] despite the odds set against their work, the staff of community-based health programs and CHWs (community health workers) hold on to their commitment to serve the poor and put people’s interests above self,” says Sr. Edit Espolor, OSB, chairperson of the CHD’s Board of Trustees, in a statement.

The nun said that even though what happened to the Morong 43 had brought fear to the health community, its effects are just temporary.

Tested by time, says Espolor, the Community-Based Health Programs (CBHPs), which had given birth to CHD, had survived even the darkest era of Martial Law. The CBHPs, initiated by the religious and secular organizations, had started in 1973—the first year of the implementation of Marcos’s martial rule.

“These (CBHBs) have endured numerous obstacles but because of the worsening condition of our public health care system and [the] absence of basic social services especially in the rural areas, the need for community-based health programs continues to arise. These CBHPs have also proved effective under varied social and economic conditions,” Espolor said.

The CHD is the national secretariat of more than 50 community-based health programs in the Philippines. (Published in CBCPNews.com)