Health workers continue to seek justice for the Calago couple

The search for justice for the murdered Calago couple continues

Different health groups from the network of the Council for Health and Development (CHD) have intensified their campaign to demand justice for slain community health worker Rosalie Calago and her husband.


Last July 29, they trooped to the Department of Health to hold a protest-rally and to press Health Secretary Janette Garin to call for an impartial and thorough investigation so that justice may be served and the people behind the crime be punished to the fullest extent of the law.


They also decried the escalating persecution against community health workers who are being accused by the military as enemies of the state for organizing the people to struggle for their right to health. Many health workers have become victims of red-tagging or the act of labeling them and other activists as communists or communist sympathizers (an armed struggle is being waged by the underground communist movement through its armed wing, the New People's Army). Many activists who had been labeled as such ended up murdered as the Calago couple.


Besides being a community health worker, Rosalie was also a member of Gabriela, an organization at the forefront of women's struggle. Her husband, Endric was, at the time of the killing, the vice chairperson of Kaugmaon, a local peasant organization affiliated with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, a national peasant organization struggling for a genuine agrarian reform in the Philippines.


In a statement, Magdalena Barcelon, chairperson of CHD expressed dismay over the inaction of the government on the worsening human rights violations against community health workers.


“Where the government fails to deliver even the most basic health services, community health workers bridge the gaps in the delivery of health care in our country where 7 out of 10 people die without ever seeing a doctor and where the lack of access to health services are particularly severe among the poor and the disadvantaged. They serve the poor full time and without any monetary remuneration. But instead of support and protection, community health workers are persecuted because they have clearly shown to the community the systemic roots of their ill health and taught them the need for unity and action to resolve these problems.”


A few days before the protest, the same groups held a press conference to condemn the brutal murder of the Calago couple and the intensifying attacks against health workers.