Make your own free website on

The Official Publication of the Moro Human Rights Center Inc.


Volume 1 Issue 1

Cover Story:
More of the Same
by Erwin Francis Gaerlan

The Many Facets of Conflict Resolution
by Sophia Dimalog

by Erwin M. Gaerlan

The Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights

A Human Rights Framework For the Moro Struggle
by Cris M.Gaerlan, Jr.

Signs of Peace
by Sahara (Samira Gutoc)

by Faith Joan C. Mesa

News Bits
* IMAN binuo ng mga estudyante
* Moro Civilians Abducted by Military

- Jamal Matanog


Economics of War

by Faith Joan Mesa

He was lying on the steel, cold stretcher-bed only weakly able to move the right side of his body. Luckily, his speech was not affected unlike most patients I get to see on a regular day at the Philippine General Hospital Emergency Room who come in unable to articulate their pain.

His wife said he found him inside the men's room slumped in the toilet seat. He felt dizzy and had a headache after walking for hours to 00 his medical benefits, rather unsuccessfully. He had previously suffered a stroke and wasn't able to work since then.

After a brief yet thorough examination I confirmed their worst fear that he had another stroke and will need a cranial CT scan immediately. I knew they would not afford the steep cost but I still urged her to find the means to pay (It will be my headache if she doesn't). I handed her a prescription which she held nervously in her hand and begged in a soft voice, "Doktor, wala ho kaming kadala-dala P50 na lang po pamasahe pauwi. Maawa na po kayo," And tears started rolling down her cheeks.

I've heard the line uttered a hundred times before but at that particular moment I had to suppress a tear that started to swell in my eyes. Instead I heard myself sigh. Exasperation? Desperation?

The same month last year I was in Parang, Maguindanao, one of the sites of massive evacuations following military assault against MILF rebels. Numerous families found themselves spending cold nights in makeshift tents in classrooms and unfinished gyms with meager belongings. During the medical mission one child was referred to me.

He had been febrile for the past three days and suffered a chill the night before. He lies sideways to share the limited cemented stairs in Plaza Gym, Parang, Maguindanao with his sister who is also running a fever. His mother cuddles his younger brother in soiled linen who keeps on having watery stools. Unmindful of the flies feasting on wounds on his head, he slips to a probably dreamless sleep.

Children aged 2-6 years old are the most vulnerable. The Lanao mission found that they usually suffer from communicable diseases such as upper respiratory tract infection, diarrhea and even tuberculosis. When people evacuate to temporary shelters or evacuation centers, overcrowding, poor health and sanitary conditions facilitate the spread of many diseases. Diarrheas and dehydration, measles and respiratory disease account for the majority of deaths while in temporary shelters. However, in the evacuation areas visited no deaths were reported.

The Cotabato mission similarly found that the common diarrhea was significantly higher ill the 0-4 years of age. Some of the potential factors, which can contribute to these findings, are poor hygiene practices, inadequate water supply and poor breastfeeding practices. Most of the pregnant women do not have sufficient knowledge on breastfeeding.

Symptoms of headache, difficulty in sleeping, behavioral problems among children may point to post traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorders. The trauma experienced by children creates deep rooted feelings of helplessness and undermines the child's trust in others. In evacuation areas in Pikit and Parang, children were still in the stage of denial. Anger, frustration and fear, which pervade their consciousness, were clearly expressed in their drawings. If these emotions persist, severe psychological scars, social isolation, violence and reduced creative potential may result. Thus, there is a need for short and long term intervention in this area. This issue was not satisfactorily addressed during the Lanao mission.

That day my superior remarked, "Ako naniniwala na dapat magbayad ang mga pasyente sa mga laboratoryo." Would he have uttered these words to my patient's wife or to the countless other patients who literally sell their most precious belongings, just to bring their patients to an institution they believe can care for their needs? Sometimes, it may just be too easy for health managers who sit in the comfort of their swivel chairs to decide on the fate of our poor patients by brandishing figures and statistics.

What my experience in Mindanao has taught me still rings true. Primary and preventive health care even at the remotest and poorest village must taken care of. Development and peace will only be brought forth by healthy individuals. |K|