By Chito Chavez
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) lashed at critics issuing threats at medical practitioners who have revealed the current public health situation in the country.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia has denounced the threats made against Dr. Gene Nisperos, his wife Dr. Julie Caguiat and their children, after saying in a press conference that there was a ‘health crisis’ in the country.
Nisperos is a UP College of Medicine faculty member and president of the All UP Academic Employees Union—Manila Chapter (AUPAEU-Manila), while Caguiat is the executive director of the health organisation Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED).
As a doctor-teacher-unionist, Nisperos slammed the government’s huge budget cut on key health institutions, such as the Department of Health (DOH) and Philippine General Hospital (PGH), and underscored the worsening situation of our public health system.
“Vocal critics of government policies and action should not be responded with any form of retaliation as everyone has the political right to express their opinion in a democracy,’’ de Guia said.
De Guia insisted the people have the right to demand redress if there are legitimate human rights concerns that the government should look into.
She added that any form of intimidation, harassment and threat to life is an assault on people’s freedom and dignity.
“Apart from the threats received by Dr. Nisperos and his family, there is a growing number of attacks and human rights violations committed against individuals and groups speaking out against injustices and government inaction,’’ she added.
De Guia noted these individuals have consistently articulated that the general political climate in the country has become hostile for expressing criticism and dissent.
The CHR has continuously reminded the government to provide protection and grievance mechanisms for human rights defenders who struggle to surface the plight of various marginalised and vulnerable population.
“Similarly, the Commission backs the demand for the government to invest more on public health care system, especially that there are several outbreaks and diseases that have plagued thousands of Filipinos this year, particularly children and youth. Our public hospitals are still confronted with issues of inadequate staff and health facilities that could not sufficiently accommodate the medical needs of our people,’’ the CHR noted.
“The Commission is hopeful though that with the passage of the Universal Health Care Law, people could genuinely enjoy accessible and affordable medical services, responsive and quick treatments, regardless of their social and economic status,’’ it added.
De Guia stressed the health care situation in the country is already a concern that the nation should lament about but the continuous attack against human rights advocates is an equally grave concern that we should never disregard and continue to demand justice for.