‘Deaths of tribal chieftain, son reflect PHL’s poor health services in IP communities’

Dec. 16, 2016

Photo by Aya Ragragio

DAVAO CITY, Philippines— Datu Gombil Mansimuy-at wanted a doctor in their community, a wish he will not see happening after he died due to cholera on December 8 in their village in Talaingod town, Davao del Norte province.

Jong Monzon, secretary general of Pasaka in Southern Mindanao said it is ironic that Mansimuy-at died due to the infectious disease since he is known to be one of the Datus who called for free health services in their area.

Members of Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao and Philippines Ecumenical Peace Platform mourned on Thursday, Dec. 15 at United Church of Christ in the Philippines- Haran during a tribute for Mansimuy-at. The village leader was described as a much loved by the tribal folk for his fight to protect the Pantaron Range of Davao del Norte against the logging operation of a C. Alcantara and Sons (Alsons) in the area.

During the tribute, the group presented a video taken last January where Mansimuy-at stated his three wishes:sustainable agri-farms, schools for the children and free hospitals for his fellow Lumad.

In the video, Mansimuy-at said: “I wish my community will have a doctor because we don’t have money for our treatment, this is our dream to create a health center.”

“It is hurtful for us that another leader died because he was deprived on his right to live by the government who took for granted their health needs,” he said.

On the day of his burial, Monzon said Mansimuy-at’s death, along with 15 other Lumads, one of whom is Mansimuy-at’s 3-year-old son who all died because of cholera, “is a representation that the government still didn’t give any attention to the health issues of the indigenous peoples.”

The Ata Manobos evacuated to UCCP- Haran two years ago to avoid military harassment over suspicion of aiding the New People’s Army. But since then there were still no health assistance given to them by the Talaingod local government unit and from the Department of Health, Monzon said.

“DOH should directly go to the community so that they will know that there are already people who got ill and died because of the disease, it is not necessary already to have documents,” Monzon said.

Beryl Grace Avila, secretariat of the Solidarity Action Group for the Indigenous People and Peasants told Davao Today in an interview that a medical mission was scheduled in Sitio Sambulongan, but Mansimuy-at perished before receiving treatment.

Avila said they are alarmed of the case of diarrhea in the community after they received reports that there are already 3,100 individuals who are reportedly suffering from diarrhea, pneumonia and other viral infections.

“We held a medical mission on November 29 to Nov. 30 and another one on December 9 to 12. Sadly, Datu Gombil died on Dec. 8,” she said.

The 3,100 individuals came from at least 15 sitios (sub-villages) in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. (davaotoday.com)

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