Pimentel condemns attack on Sultan Kudarat doctor
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government must prioritize the security of healthcare professionals working in areas where armed conflicts persist, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said on Monday.
Pimentel strongly denounced the attack on Dr. Charmaine Ceballos Barroquillo, a government physician recently ambushed in a remote area in Maguindanao del Sur.
“In times when those dedicated to saving lives face grave threats, it becomes the nation’s duty to safeguard them. It is our responsibility to protect our doctors,” the senator said, as quoted in a statement released by his office.
Barroquillo, a physician at the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital, was driving her car in Buluan, Maguindanao del Sur on the evening of February 3 when she was shot thrice by assailants on a motorcycle.
The doctor survived the encounter but sustained injuries to her left shoulder and lower back.
“These doctors have invested a lot of their time, talent, and resources to be who they are. And the Philippine State has also invested a lot in them. Hence, we should protect these educated and knowledgeable people with the ability to improve our health and general well-being,” Pimentel’s statement added.
The senator, who is also from Mindanao, said that the recent incident highlighted the dangers faced by doctors who help patients in remote areas of the country, which are plagued by constant threats to security.
“Let us put an end to the senseless violence against our doctors. It is time to prioritize the protection of our healthcare professionals,” Pimentel stressed.
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He likewise urged government security authorities to immediately apprehend the perpetrators as the ambush may create a “chilling effect” among doctors who serve remote and conflict-stricken communities.
The Maguindanao del Sur police are yet to determine the motive of the attack on Barroquillo.
Following the incident, Sultan Kudarat Governor Datu Pax Ali Mangudadatu offered a reward of P1 million to anyone who could provide information about the gunmen.