Health workers in Southern Tagalog wear black for slain doctor
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna — Health workers both in public and private institutions in Southern Tagalog provinces wore black on Monday to express solidarity with the family of slain volunteer doctor Dreyfuss Perlas.
Dr. Eduardo Janairo, regional director of the Department of Health in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), said doctors, nurses and health workers in the villages responded to calls to wear black.
Dr. Rio Magpantay, DOH regional director in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), said while most of the DOH staff came to work in white, many sported a black arm band.
Perlas’ colleagues in the DOH’s Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) program marked Monday as a national day of mourning.
Perlas volunteered to the DTTB and stayed to serve as the municipal health officer in Sapad town in Lanao del Norte province. He was shot and killed by an unidentified gunman on March 1 in Kapatagan town.
“We want to show that we too are calling for justice. Emphasis should be given to the protection not only of those being deployed to remote areas, as crime happens everywhere,” Magpantay said in a phone interview.
Janairo said the killing of Perlas served as a “wake up call both to the [DOH] management and the public” to give attention to the protection of health workers. Many, he said, risked their lives without getting hazard pay or protection.
“Dr. Perlas was an icon, but this too is in solidarity with all the many others being harassed while in service,” Janairo said.
He cited a case of a barangay health worker killed in Limay town in Bataan province and a female nurse raped in Maguinadano province some years ago.
“What is the government doing? What about those (cases) in the past?” he said. SFM/rga