Just so people will understand how a Doctor To A Bario is actually being carried out nowadays: All physicians who are DOH scholars, or doctors who had their education in government subsidized medical institutions are obligated to serve atleast two years in areas of needs. But, the government can not force these doctors to serve in areas that are obviously dangerous. No doctor can be forced to go to war torn areas or in areas where security can not be guaranteed. So, how did Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas end up in Lanao’s Municipat Health district? The answer is simple. He chose to be there.
Dr. Perlas was just 31 when he was shot dead by an unidentified gunman while on his way to his apartment, yesterday night. He just returned from a medical mission which he himself spearheaded in a far flung barangay in Lanao. People who witnessed the incident rushed him to Lanao District Hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
Lanao lost a dedicated doctor who placed their needs above his, and the medical community lost a brother, and a respected collegue.
He could have stayed in Aklan, where he will be among the people he knew since birth, or he could have chosen to go to Manila to specialize. He could have become one fine specialist, and allowed some fine things in life. But he chose to be deployed in a war torn, derelict, and chaotic area, away from his family, and far from any chance of career advancement. Why? Because amidst the mutation and open destruction of our beloved profession, there are doctors like Dr Perlas who find his medical license not as a key to make money, but to serve the poorest of the poor. He served the outcasts, the discarded, the unknown. And he was killed burdened by the sufferings of these people who seem to have been forgotten by the world.
He was only required to give back two years to the government. Instead, he offered 12 years, an entire lifetime, if you come to think of it. 4 years as BS Biology student in UP Los Banos; 4 years as Medicine proper in Visayas State University; and finally 1 year as post graduate intern. He did not specialize. After receiving his medical license, he chose to serve in Lanao and spent 12 years of his life there as municipal health officer, until his death, by a single bullet that pierced his heart.
The entire medical community mourn his passing, but it is the Lanao people, those who reside in the outermost limits of civilized living, who lost the most. They lost a hero. They lost their “Superman Doc”.
When you murder a doctor whose life had been dedicated to serving people that for years had been deprived of doctors and medical care, you did not just murder one person, you killed an entire community.