8 September 2006
Hon. Francisco T. Duque, MD
Department of Health
San Lazaro Compound, Rizal Avenue
Sta. Cruz, Manila
Dear Sec. Duque,
URGENT REQUEST TO DISPATCH MEDICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SANITATION TEAMS TO THE SOUTHVILLE HOUSING PROJECT IN CABUYAO, LAGUNA
We are writing with urgency to appeal to the Department of Health (DOH) to immediately deploy medical and environmental sanitation teams to the Southville Housing Project in Cabuyao, Laguna in light of the reported occurrence of skin diseases, diarrhea and other ailments among some of the relocated railway dwellers purportedly due to the poor environmental health conditions in the area.
We make this appeal on behalf of Luisa Yabut, whose photo is attached, and the other afflicted children that we have met during our visits to the relocation site on 9 and 28 August 2006. The heartrending documentaries shown on GMA7’s “Imbestigador ng Bayan” on “24 Oras” (30 August and 1 September 2006) and “Emergency” (1 September 2006) only corroborated what we thought was an emerging health crisis.
Consistent with the Department’s mandate of ensuring accessible and quality health care services to all Filipinos, especially the poor, we urge the DOH, in coordination with the Municipal Government of Cabuyao and other concerned agencies, to speedily and effectively respond to the health needs of the relocatees. Specifically, we ask the DOH to send medical and environmental sanitation teams to the Southville Housing Project on a regular basis or until the local authorities have fully taken on this responsibility.
As a member agency of the National Solid Waste Management Commission, we urge the DOH to take the lead in ensuring the safety of the relocatees from chemical pollution, and implore you to work for the following requirements of R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000:
1) The introduction and implementation of an ecological system for managing household discards within the entire relocation site.
2) The closure, cleanup and rehabilitation of the private dumpsite situated next to several residential blocs.
3) The provision of safer housing units for relocated families, especially those whose houses are located within the 200-meter radius of the dumpsite, which should be a no-construction zone under the law.
We further request you, Mr. Secretary, to seriously look into the water, drainage, electricity and indoor pollution issues, which, if adequately resolved, would tremendously improve the environmental health conditions in the relocation site.
We thank you and look forward to your decisive action to ensure “health for all.”
Elsie Brandes De Veyra, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution
Joey Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement
Noli Abinales, Buklod Tao Foundation
Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition
Manny C. Calonzo, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Merci Ferrer, Health Care Without Harm
Yolly Esguerra, Kaalagad Katipunang Kristiyano
Dr. Angelina Galang, Miriam PEACE
Dr. Pastor Cruz, Montalban Environmental Protection and Development Council
Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation
Joyce Palacol, National Secretariat on Social Action/CBCP
Romy Hidalgo, November 17 Movement
Marie Marciano, Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan
Bang Palacio, Sining Yapak
John Francis M. Lagman, Urban Poor Associates
Ofelia Panganiban, Zero Waste Philippines