Advocates red-tagging, health workers should stop: groups

Lawyers and healthcare workers go to the Ministry of Justice in Padre Faura, Manila, to demand an end to what they say are red tags and trumped up charges against defenders human rights and health workers. Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – About 60 lawyers, doctors and other health workers marched from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to the Department of Justice (DOJ) at Padre Faura in Manila on Tuesday morning to demand an end red markings and attacks in their ranks.


“Kami pong mga doktor, nagsisilbi. And we are committed to saving lives. And yet all pong buhay are in danger during this time, dahil gusto lang naman namin na bigyan kami ng kaluwagan na kami ay gumanap sa aming duties as doctors to save lives and take care of our patients without fear of us have marked in red,” said Dr. Magdalena Barcelon of the Community Medicine Practitioners and Advocates Association (COMPASS).

Barcelona noted that over the past six years, seven doctors and a health worker have died, among 427 human rights defenders and service providers killed after they were supposedly marked red.

“Gusto lang naman po namin na makapagsilbi among moms. So it’s really a tragic irony that we doctors, doctors, devoted to helping patients and saving lives, fear for our lives,” she said .

Clutching a cane, Barcelona joined members of the Health Alliance for Democracy and the Alliance for Health Care Workers, among other groups, who staged a short protest action at the DOJ.

“Ang atin pong Ministry of Justice. Our mission is to provide efficient, effective and fair administration of justice. And sila po ang ating commissioned a primary law agency. Kaya’t sila po dapat ang responsible for investigating, prosecuting and punishing offenders. So even though the Department of Justice has changed, so have the top doctors? ” she asked.

One doctor believed to have been killed after being marked red is Dr Mary Rose Sancelan, who was shot dead with her husband in Negros in December 2020 by unidentified gunmen.

The police linked her to the Communist rebels before and after the murder.

For Barcelona, ​​the case of Sancelan highlights the problem of the lack of public health doctors in the communities.

Sancelan, she said, was sent to medical school by priests due to the lack of doctors in their area.

She eventually became a city health worker, leading her community’s efforts against COVID-19, only to be red-marked and killed.

“Hindi po namin masisisi yung aming mga kasamahan na plus gugustuhin na mangibang-bansa et sila is important in the practice of practicing the profession,” Barcelon said.

“Talagang nahihirapan kami na maghikayat government doctors and doctors, nurses,” she added.

She cited DOH data showing the Philippines had 40,000 doctors in 2017 but had fallen to 28,000 by 2021, some of them in private practice.

“Kulang-kulang has 16,000 NASA civil service doctors. Kaya bawat is a doctor, halos pitong libo na mamamayan ang caniyang inaalagaan,” she said.

“Kaya isipin po natin na sa bawat doktor na mamamatay, pinagkakaitan ng serbisyo ang halos pitong libong mamamayan. she adds.


The Movement Against Disinformation (MAD), a group of more than 50 lawyers led by former Ateneo School of Government Dean Tony La Viña, has expressed support for health workers.

“The red marking represents an imminent danger to the life, liberty and safety of health workers. Unquestionably, ‘red-tagging’ is one of the most vicious and insidious forms of misinformation,” he said in a statement.

In April of this year, MAD represented AHW officers and members in filing a criminal complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman and an administrative complaint with the Professional Regulation Commission against a former undersecretary of the Presidential Office of Communications Operations.

“MAD stands ready to continue to support healthcare workers to resist any attempt to ‘red flag’ them and to defend their right to seek redress for their legitimate grievances and to peacefully assemble,” he said. declared.


But it’s not just the red flag that concerns the health workers who took part in the protest action at the DOJ.

Registered nurse Cristy Donguines, president of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center-Healthcare Workers’ Alliance employee union, also lamented the apparent lack of concern for their well-being.

“Don’t forget the hospital staff. Sagad-sagad na duty namin. Quality care by rin ba naibibigay namin sa ating mga pasyente? hindi na. Sagad na pagod namin. Wasak na katawan namin. Hindi na kami nakakatulog, ‘di na nakakapagpahinga,’ she said.

“Naririnig ba kami ng gobyerno? Naririnig ba hinaing namin? Sa palagay n’yo ba, pakikinggan kami?” she asked the crowd and pushed back the heavy police presence.

Donguines also mentioned a budget cut of 900 million pesos in the proposed HMP budget for 2023.

“Since PGH is the last hospital as well as in the Philippines, there is not much care, not all health care is needed, no budget is needed, even if it is for quality care, for quality care pasyente na nangangailangan? Alam naman po natin na ito lange tanging hospital na matatakbuhan ng mahihirap na walang pera and kapus-palad na talagang sagad na sagad na, wala na ngang ipapakain in kanilang mga kamag-anak, in mahal in buhay. Tapos, wala pa silang matatakbuhang hospital na libre para sa kanilang mga kalusugan,” she said.

“Kami pa po ang-aalay ng buhay namin, kami pa po ang nire-redtag. Kami pa po ang pilit na sinasakal. Kami pa po ang pilit na winawalanghiya and binabalewala ng gobyerno natin,” she added.

Throughout the pandemic, healthcare workers have raised delayed and insufficient wages and benefits as ongoing concerns, and have opposed a deployment ban, then a deployment cap, preventing healthcare workers from leaving. the country to look for better opportunities outside the country.

Then incoming National Security Advisor (NSA) Dr. Clarita Carlos said in June that she hoped the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) would stop branding people. in red and would instead focus on helping people on the ground.

According to this retired political science professor from the University of the Philippines, labeling people and identifying them as “terrorists” does not solve the problem.

“Why do you identify [identifying] people as if you were already concluding? Stop this red marking,” she said.

Health Ministry official Maria Rosario Vergeire said last month that providing health worker benefits was among her priorities.


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