CHR says NCMH chief slay alarming as area sprawling with cops
MANILA, Philippines — The killing of the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) chief is a cause for concern as criminals appear too emboldened to kill despite the area being heavily guarded, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said on Monday.
According to CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, the gunmen’s move to kill NCMH chief Roland Cortez along Tandang Sora Avenue — just when police have a beefed up security in the area in preparation for President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) — reeks of vigilante-style attacks.
“The [CHR] denounces the murderous assault against National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) Chief Roland Cortez and his driver by unknown gunmen today, 27 July 2020, along Tandang Sora Avenue, Quezon City,” De Guia said in a statement.
“In the midst of the preparation for the State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa, the brazen and vigilante-style killing of a public official in an area where there is heavy police presence is deeply concerning as this signifies how emboldened the perpetrators are in carrying out a crime in broad daylight,” she added.
Earlier, it was reported that two individuals were killed along the said avenue, eventually identified to be Cortez and his driver.
Cortez recently drew headlines after he asked former NCMH chief administrator Clarita Avila to stop making statements on behalf of the institution, after the latter revealed last April that some patients in the health facility have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Avila also came out publicly alleging that the situation inside the NCMH has become dire as employees are left to work without PPEs, making them vulnerable to coronavirus transmissions.
After the issue, Avila was transferred to the Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Las Piñas by DOH. But Eventually, NCMH admitted last April 27, that 88 of its staffers and patients have contracted COVID-19, forcing it to limit admissions of mental patients.
Despite these issues, CHR said that Cortez does not deserve to be killed — a double-edged sword as the resolution of such issues becomes harder.
“Despite the death of the medical chief, the Commission urges the government to continue its investigation of the irregularities within the NCMH, while the CHR also has started looking into the case,” De Guia said.
“In this time of a global health crisis, unethical and corrupt practices in public health institutions undermine people’s access to healthcare, especially the most marginalized and disadvantaged,” she added.
Previously, Cortez also filed a graft complaint against Avila for allegedly using a construction firm she is a part of to facilitate the building of establishments inside NCMH.
CHR vowed to do an independent probe on the issue.
“Despite the allegations of corruption in the NCMH against Dr. Cortez, no one deserves to die and experience this kind of violence. Now that he is gone, we only lost the opportunity to legally address these issues,” De Guia said.
The CHR appeals to the Philippine National Police and other local authorities to carry out a swift and full investigation of the case to hold perpetrators accountable. For its part, the CHR commits to conduct an independent probe and will closely monitor the situation,” she noted.
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