Dear Congressman Angara,
I wrote to you last June 9, appealing for assistance so that an ambulance can bring your indigent constituent to Ospital ng Makati (OsMak). The Office of VP (and then Makati Mayor) Binay has already kindly offered to accept and treat the patient, as a charity case. All that is needed is an ambulance ride from Diarabasin, Aurora to Makati City (roughly a 6.5-hour drive).
Because I was in Manila, I thought that the best way is to seek your help. I then sent you an email via the HOR’s “Contact Us” system. I also asked another congressman to relay my message to you and he said, he already did.
Yesterday, as I was in mass, I remembered that you have not even replied to my email. Not a single word from your camp. I prayed for the patient and started figuring out how much will I spend if I just pay for an ambulance service myself. I also prayed for funds for it as I began to worry…is she still strong enough for the ride to Manila? I worried, too, because it was months since I have written to you.
Today, I received a message from my Mom. She said that the patient already passed on. You can imagine my mixed emotions of frustration, anger, sadness, and admittedly, some guilt. I felt guilty because I did not make some more follow-ups to your office. However, I ask now, isn’t it enough that someone from Aurora, a kababayan, wrote to you? Isn’t it enough that one of your colleagues also sent the message to you? Aren’t all these enough, Representative Angara? More importantly, how can this happen when you yourself is an advocate of health care for all? (I know that you have recently filed a House Bill pertaining to mandatory universal health care coverage.)
It is not your fault that she died already. However, I am pretty sure she will still be alive now had someone in your office (you?) been kind and attentive enough to lend one of the province’s ambulances to her. June to November was a long time for someone to recover. Even if she will eventually die because of her deteriorating condition, it will still make a difference that someone in your office (you?) has sent out for an ambulance for her. Your thought and concern could have really mattered.
I do not know you and I have no right to judge you. However, I want to ask you these questions: Did you receive my email? If so, what did you do about it? Did you get the messages that I relayed through another Congressman? What did you do after that? What could have possibly prevented you from helping out your constituent, a person who must have been voting for you and the others in your family so that you can all enjoy your seats in government? Where were you when someone badly needed your help? And how many more will die like this? How many more will hope that they can use your province’s ambulances when they needed them most? I already have a direct access to you and yet, you never bothered answering my email. What more for someone who has no access to the right persons?
I wish I have the answers for you.
As I type this, a family in Diarabasin grieves over a lost loved one. It may not matter to you. She is just among your many voters. But for this family, she is a nurturing mother, a caring sister, and a loyal friend. And she once needed your help so she can continue to love and nurture. Alas, her knocks on your door went unanswered, and she had to leave with nary a smile on her face.
I grieve, too, not just for her, but for the rest of this country who continue to hope that somewhere, somehow, there are still strong and compassionate leaders who have a good head over their shoulders and a kind heart that knows no bound and limits.
I end this letter with the hope that this will not happen again to any person in Aurora.
Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
P.s. Below are the exact text of what I sent you and the auto-reply which was generated by the HOR contact system.
Date: Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 12:15 PM
Subject: Your email to the Office of Rep. Angara, Juan Edgardo M.
To: email@example.comDear MARY ANNE VELAS-SUARIN:This email has been automatically generated. We have forwarded your message to the Office of Rep. Angara, Juan Edgardo M. and they will get in touch with you as soon as possible if you have requested them to.Yours Sincerely,The Webteam
House of RepresentativesFor committee affairs, CMSD: +63 2 931 5001 local 7122
For technical info and other concerns, ICTS: +63 2 931 5001local 7616– Original Message –HREP Website Visitor: Urgent help for an indigent in Diarabasin, Aurora (request for ambulance)
Name: Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
Dear Congressman Angara,Greetings of peace and hope! Sir, I am writing this letter with deepest hopes for your kind help. I have also sent urgent SMS through Rep. xxx (name deleted to protect the Congressman’s privacy). Sir, there is someone who needs urgent hospitalization but who is so hard up that she seems to have given up all hope and simply waiting for death in a dark and impoverished hut in Brgy. Diarabasin, Aurora, Province.Sir, I wrote to the Office of Vice President Jojo Binay and they just called me up to say that they are willing to help in ensuring admission to the Ospital ng Makati (OsMak). However, they cannot provide an ambulance as Aurora is very far.In this regard, Sir, can your kind office assist in sending an ambulance to Brgy. Diarabasin so that the patient can be brought to OsMak?
The patient that I am referring to is Mrs. xxxx (she is known in the neighborhood as xxx). (Name deleted to protect her family’s privacy.) According to relatives, she met an accident some 3-4 years ago when a container of gasoline accidentally hit her and she was near a burning stove. I am not privy to the complete details but all I know is that she suffered a serious burn. She was brought to a hospital but due to her extreme poverty, she was not able to afford the long-term medical treatment that she needed. Her condition deteriorated over the years. Right now, she can no longer stand up so she is just lying in bed, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even the sheer act of urinating is a difficult task for her and her husband who assists her (he is also old and perhaps, deteriorating, too). She is so thin (and I think partly blind) now. Looking at her brought so much pain. She is in a very bad condition but I also think that she can still recover and become productive/partly-productive again if she can get a decent and loving care in a good hospital such as the OsMak.
Sir, may I humbly appeal for your assistance so that she can get the treatment that she needs? An ambulance ride from Diarabasin to OsMak is urgently needed at this point.
Sir, I do appeal for your touch of kindness. In the right time, and with God’s graces, your kind help, Sir, will be returned. No specific promises but I do believe in “paying forward” so please do be assured that somehow, in the future, I will help someone, too, and maybe more of our kababayans who may need my help in the future. I end this letter with hopes and prayers. I wish you and your family all the best. God bless you and your family, Rep. Angara!
Mary Anne Velas-Suarin
UPDATE: Through a friend, Rep. Angara was able to read this blog. I have posted his reply below (see comments field). Here is my reply to his private letter to me (which is basically the same with what he sent here):
Dear Rep. Angara,
Thanks for your email. I appreciate your time and the fact that you have helped Ms. (name withheld to protect her family’s privacy) previously. It is very much appreciated.
However, with all due respect, Sir, I think that the serious flaw was in how you/your staff had never checked with the House ICT about the email address assigned to you/your office. What if hundreds of people have written to you through that email address, too? The HoR’s website was the only available “public” access to Congressmen and people expected those “contact us” page to work. That address existed and even the ICT cannot be blamed. They did their job to assign those addresses to all the Congressmen. The next question that comes to mind is on whether many Congressmen also do not use those email addresses assigned to them? Is the HoR wasting such a valuable resource?
This is a very sad episode Sir. Alarming even. Another life could have been saved only if that email had reached you.
Nevertheless, I understand that we can no longer undo what had already transpired and we can only do our best to ensure that this does not happen again. Let me also check with your Colleague as he assured me that he relayed my message to you.
Thank you once again for your time and efforts in reaching me.
(By the way, I have checked with my Congressman-friend and he reiterated that he passed on my message to Rep. Angara. So it makes me wonder who is saying the truth…)
This is not a paid blog.