MANILA - The Department of Health on Monday called on authorities to secure its doctors and health workers, as it mourned the death of a colleague who was gunned down in an impoverished southern town last week.
Investigators are looking at several motives for the murder of Dreyfuss Perlas, including personal grudge, and a reward was put up for information that will lead to the capture of his killer, said Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.
Health personnel wore black arm bands Monday to seek justice for Perlas, whose death highlighted safety risks to doctors deployed to remote communities.
Perlas was a municipal health officer in Lanao del Norte’s Sapad town, classified as “fifth class” or among the poorest in the country. He had served under the two-year Doctors to the Barrios program in the same area.
“He is a rarity now in public health. Thus, it is of great loss to the health sector and the thousands of patients he could have continued to serve,” Ubial told reporters.
Ubial appealed to authorities, saying, “Please protect our doctors and health workers and help them so they can serve you better.”
Perlas had volunteered in the most severe emergencies in Mindanao, including Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) in 2012 and the siege of Muslim rebels on Zamboanga City in 2013.
Ubial said a fund to assist public health workers would be set up and named after Perlas.
The DOH employs 300 Doctors to the Barrios annually, or 5,000 since the program was started in 1994.