Health group calls for justice for slain Negros health worker, husband

Community health workers hold protest in front of Camp Aguinaldo today June 17 on the killing of the Calago couple. (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)
Community health workers hold protest in front of Camp Aguinaldo today June 17 on the killing of the Calago couple. (Photo by J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)

“The attack against health workers is an affront to the people’s right to health.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – The Council for Health and Development (CHD) called for justice for slain barangay (village) health worker (BHW) Rosalie “Saling” Calago, who was killed along with her husband Endric by suspected soldiers in Negros Oriental.

The couple was killed in their home, and their house burned down on May 24 in sitio Bantayan, Tacpao village, Guihulngan City. Human rights groups blamed the Army’s 11th Infantry Battalion, which they said had harassed the couple and other progressive leaders.

The CHD, the national organization of 64 community-based health programs (CBHP) all over the country, condemned the killing, which, it said, is part of the “intensifying attacks on health workers.”

Dr. Magdalena Barcelon, chairperson of the CHD’s Board of Trustees, said in a statement that Saling was also a barangay nutrition scholar and strongly supported the CBHP and community health workers (CHW) in their locality. She was also a member of the progressive women’s group Gabriela.

“The attack against health workers is an affront to the people’s right to health. When soldiers kill or harass health workers, they deprive thousands of people in poor and neglected communities of important health care services,” Barcelon said.

Rosalie "Saling" Calago (left, with stethoscope) at a medical and relief mission. (Photo grabbed from the Council for Health and Development Facebook page/ Bulatlat.com)
Rosalie “Saling” Calago (left, with stethoscope) at a medical and relief mission. (Photo grabbed from the Council for Health and Development Facebook page/ Bulatlat.com)

A BHW is under government supervision, while CHWs are organized by NGOs.

Saling was also a “barefoot reporter” of local radio programs Kaling Kag Tugda and Pugasan in Negros and Cebu. Endric was a councilor, and the vice chairperson of Kaugmaon-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Both Saling and Endric were also members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Saling also supported the Franciscan Mountain Clinic, a community-managed program run by CHWs.

Barcelon said Saling “believed in empowering communities in laying down the foundation for a people-managed, alternative health care system.

Barcelon said that under the Aquino administration, health workers were illegally nabbed and detained for crimes they did not commit, citing the arrest of Zara Alvarez, staff of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program for Community Development (NIHIPCD) in 2012.

Trumped-up charges were also filed against former NIHIP officer Josephine Torrecampo, and Mindanao CBHP staff Rosalinda Omayao and Helen Igloria who were arrested but later released.

Barcelon also cited cases under the Arroyo administration, such as the 2010 arrest of the Morong 43, and the 2006 assassination attempt against Dr. Constancio “Chandu” Claver, in which his wife Alyce was killed.

“CBHPs all over the Philippines vow to strengthen their ranks, organize and mobilize the people for health and human rights, and seek all remedies to attain justice for the Calagos, and all victims of human rights violations in the country,” Barcelon said. ()

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