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Children of Morong 43 speak up: Free Our Parents!

By MARYA SALAMAT Bulatlat.com [1]

MANILA — “Most children are candid and direct to the point,” said Sophia Garduce, spokesperson of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns. “Children will give it to you straight, how they feel, what they think.” Which is why when Salinlahi hosted a press conference with two children as speakers, it was their shortest press conference on record, Garduce said. Salinlahi held the press conference in response to the children’s request that they be allowed to speak as well for the 43 jailed health workers.In the press conference, Garduce aired the appeal of the detainees’ children. “As we are about to celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 8, children of the 43 jailed health workers want their mother, sister and grandparents to celebrate the day together with them, outside Camp Capinpin and away from any harm, threat and abuse.” Salinlahi conducted workshop sessions with the children and grandchildren of the jailed 43 health workers last week of February. In the sessions, the children were urged to talk about their parents’ situation in detention. At the workshop, the children asked the adults: “What have my mother done wrong? They are not criminals, why are they imprisoned?” Egoy, or Diego Gabriel Clamor, 4, the son of Dr. Merry Clamor, one of the 43 health workers currently jailed at Camp Capinpin, and Vince Michael Montes, 8, a grandson of Dr. Alex Montes, another detainee, asked the press to give their messages to the military. “I don’t know why my Lolo is being kept in prison. I wish they would set him free,” Vince said. Vince said he wanted to tell the military: “Free my Lolo now. He did nothing wrong. He is a kind, helpful man.” Egoy was shy at first. In the Salinlahi workshop, he had said that “my mom is a doctor who is always in PGH (Philippine General Hospital) because she had many patients there. But that was before. Now, her patients will suffer because she was detained. She did not commit any crime. How will her patients cope now?” At the press con attended by sons, daughters and other relatives of 43 health workers and classmates of Egoy, he was less talkative. But asked what should be done with the military who arrested his mother, he said “Jail them, too!” “My mother is a doctor, serving the poor. I hope she would get out of jail,” Egoy later said. Garduce said that Dr. Clamor also served as the vice president of a daycare center run by the Parents Alternative on Early Childhood Care and Development or PAECCD, a member organization of Salinlahi. “Nanay Merry is not only mother to Egoy, she is also a mother to all students in the daycare center as she conducts regular checkups for the children and provides medical service anytime she is needed. As the 43 heath workers continue to languish under the hands of their illegal custodians and torturers, thousands of children in rural and urban poor areas are being deprived of their health services.” Garduce stressed that “the impunity of the present government, ironically headed by a woman president, creates a society of orphans, traumatized children and broken families through extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance, displacement, massacres and illegal arrest and detention. Arroyo’s coddling of this culture of impunity and continued tyrannical rule is only made possible because our society is in a de facto martial rule. For the sake of our children, this should end.” (Bulatlat.com) [1]

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