Gunman in 2017 slay of barrio doctor falls
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — The family of slain Aklanon barrio doctor Dreyfuss Perlas on Monday welcomed the arrest of the suspected gunman nearly five years after the murder in Lanao del Norte province.
“We are very happy. At last, after five years, Doc Drey will be given justice,” Dennis Perlas, Dreyfuss’ father, told the Inquirer in a text message.
Lt. Col. Salman Saad, the spokesperson for the Lanao del Norte Police Provincial Office, said policemen arrested Mohammad Nabel Banding in a house at Barangay Abaga in Lala town on Jan. 28. Banding, 39, was unarmed and did not resist arrest.
“An informant tipped us off about Banding’s presence in the area and we launched the operation against him,” Saad said in a telephone interview on Monday.
Banding, a former security guard, was arrested through a warrant for murder issued on May 18, 2017, by Judge Albert Quinto of the Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte, Regional Trial Court Branch 21.
A gunman shot and killed Perlas on March 1, 2017, in Kapatagan while he was driving his motorcycle on his way home to Lala.
Perlas, 31, a native of Batan town in Aklan province, served as the municipal health officer of Sapad, Lanao del Norte.
His death provoked widespread outcry because he was one of the few volunteer doctors who opted to stay in his area of assignment after his contract under the Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) program of the Department of Health (DOH) ended.Perlas, who stood at 6 feet 3 inches (1.92 meters), was also known as a “gentle giant” to residents of Sapad and his friends and relatives.
Police tagged a woman and three men in a criminal complaint filed in relation to Perlas’ killing but only Banding was indicted.Saad said they were still gathering information from Banding, including the motive of the killing and if there were other people involved in the plot. He declined to disclose details, saying any information would need to be validated.
But Dennis, a town councilor of Batan, said they were hoping that all those behind his son’s murder would be arrested and prosecuted.
“We believe that somebody paid (Banding) to kill our son,” he said.Local ‘hero’
On March 11, 2017, former Health Undersecretary Enrique Tayag bestowed the Bayani ng Kalusugan award posthumously to Perlas. The award honors individuals and organizations for their help in giving universal health care to people. It carries a P200,000 cash prize.
Perlas was well-loved by the community he served in Sapad and people whom he had helped and worked with lauded him for his generosity and dedication.
After taking up biology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños in Laguna, Perlas graduated from the West Visayas State University College of Medicine in 2011 under a DOH scholarship program.
Being a DOH scholar, Perlas became a member of the Batch 30 of the DTTB program that required them to render two years of government service, usually by being assigned in rural areas with no doctors.
Perlas chose to be assigned in Sapad and after his DTTB stint, he decided to join the local government as a municipal health officer.
The local government of Sapad, in March 2018, declared a holiday to commemorate the first death anniversary of Perlas and renamed the town’s birthing center in his memory to honor his contributions to Sapad.