Davao Today

DAVAO CITYPeers of the slain AH1N1 doctor expressed alarm that the extrajudicial killings in the country no longer spare doctors and health workers giving services to the poor.

Dr. Jean Lindo, the chair of the doctors group Rx for Peace, said the death of Dr. Rogelio Bong Peera, an epidemiologist of the Department of Health (DOH) actively involved in the campaign against AH1N1, is a big loss not only to his family but to all people in the region already suffering from lack of access to affordable medicines and the services of committed health professionals.

We grieve over the unacceptable loss, Lindo said. Dr. Peera was an epidemiologist in charge of monitoring the AH1N1 virus, Lindo said. Amidst the exodus of doctors out of the country, he was among the few who opted to stay. But what did he get? He got killed in return.

Lindo said the killing of Peera has raised the concerns of their colleagues over the safety of six other physicians identified in the military Order of Battle (OB) list earlier leaked by Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo to the media. The six physicians named in the list included Dr. Ruben Robillo, Dr. Jose Lacuesta, Dr. Shalom Lorezana, Dr. Eugene Nalian, Dr. Rey Lasaka.

Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, commanding officer of the 10th ID, however, said no such list existed and that it was only a concoction of Ocampo. Ocampo refused to disclose the name of the soldier who gave the power point document to him.

Lindo said the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) plans to call a meeting with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to clarify whats on the document.

Unidentified gunmen killed Peera on his way home on Wednesday after he fetched his 15 year old child. He was a Board member of the United Integrated Health Services Foundation Incorporated (UIHSFI), a group of health professionals included in the list. He was also a council member of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), another group identified in the list.

Aside from being a government doctor, Peera was active in opposing government programs that could limit peoples access to health, including the privatization of government hospitals and the streamlining of government bureaucracy that limits the number of health workers. Dr. Peera was also one of the few doctors trained to handle and monitor possible outbreaks of AH1N1, dengue, malaria and other diseases known to afflict depressed communities. We have not known him to have enemies, Lindo said, He was a level headed individual.

His work as epidemiologist brought him to the communities where the people are, said Robillo. Its so ironic that such a peace-loving individual died so violently. If this is a warning for us, health workers, I dont think this particular activity will work. Were not cowed down just because of the killing, said Robillo, whose name was on the list. Our commitment is to the communities and the underprivileged. That is our oath,” he said. “No amount of political killing can stop us from doing our work.

“It (the killing) is a violation of the international humanitarian law,” said Lindo. “We are physicians and are non combatants, we are only engaged in saving lives.” (Germelina A. Lacorte/

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