PASIG CITY- The Development Academy of the Philippines has joined the clamor to give justice to a fallen son, Dr. Dreyfuss Bolivar Perlas, a graduate of its masteral program in public management, major in health systems and development, and a volunteer of the famed Doctors to the Barrios Program, who was murdered in cold blood while in the middle of his tour of duty as municipal health officer in Sapad, Lanao del Norte last March 1.
The DAP community led by DAP President Antonio Kalaw Jr. expressed indignation over Perlas' gruesome death, which saw the 31-year-old native of Batan, Aklan being shot at the left side of his back at around 7:00 p.m. last March 1 while riding his motorcycle on the way home from a medical mission to his boarding house in Kapatagan, about 18 kilometers north of Sapad town. Dr. Perlas was pronounced dead on arrival at the Kapatagan Provincial Hospital, succumbing to a single bullet wound from a .45 caliber pistol used by still unidentified assailants.
"This is a very tragic incident given the fact that it was committed against a young man, a product of our graduate school, who chose to serve his countrymen, particularly the poor, in a far-flung community," Kalaw said. "This certainly cries for justice for Dr. Drey by bringing the perpetrators of this despicable crime to court and making them accountable for their senseless act of treason not only against Dr. Drey but also against the poor people he was serving.
"We urge the authorities to pursue this without let up and show the world that in our country, we never let such heinous acts pass without the appropriate consequences," Kalaw stressed.
The call from the DAP, the country's premier government research and training institution, comes on the heels of the clamor from other sectors for "justice for Dr. Drey."
"We mourn for this premature and senseless death of our (former) student in (the) WVSU College of Medicine," said Patricio Palmes of the West Visayas State University where Perlas earned his medical diploma. "We pray that justice will soon prevail."
"There is absolutely no excuse for authorities not to do everything possible and everything they are obliged to do under the law to get to the bottom of the incident and to catch and prosecute the murderers," Tonyo Cruz wrote in the Manila Bulletin.
"Dr. Perlas was a rarity, having both the competencies and demeanor suited for a career in public health," added another person familiar with Perlas' background, Jorrel Vincent Valdez. "People like Drey represent an immense value to our society, and the compensation he received for this is a bullet to the heart."
No less than the Department of Health issued a statement on its Facebook page mourning the loss of Perlas. "We deeply mourn the loss of Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas, who was one of the few doctors who dared to work in difficult and underserved communities. The Philippines lost not only a doctor but a dedicated and exceptional true Doctor of the Barrio," the DOH statement said.
Perlas was a member of Batch 4 of the DAP Graduate School of Public and Development Management's Master in Public Management-Major in Health Systems and Development Class of 2014, one of 88 who completed their masteral program that year. Despite financial constraints, the young Perlas was a consistent achiever as a schoolboy, graduating with honors in elementary and high school. He went on to finish his Bachelor of Science in Biology/Zoology at the University of the Philippines-Los BaAos and his Doctor of Medicine at the WVSU College of Medicine, being awarded as one of the top 10 students in Family and Community Medicine.
After passing the licensure examination in 2012, he joined the DOH's Doctors to the Barrio Program, declining an option to stay in his hometown and instead choosing to be deployed in the marginalized and underserved area of Sapad, Lanao del Norte, a fifth-class municipality of 21,000 that, prior to his arrival, had not had a doctor for 12 years.
'A contribution to the country'
"I see my own improvement as a citizen and a doctor as a contribution to the betterment of the country," Perlas then said as he explained his life philosophy. "I participate in community work and medical missions and I always feel a sense of accomplishment when imparting knowledge on the essentials of health care and offering solutions that alleviate the difficulties of the people."
Perlas' dedication and commitment to public health eventually led to his appointment as municipal health officer of Sapad town after his DTTB program ended in 2013. He would have marked his fifth year in Sapad this October had he not been killed. Just two days before his murder, Perlas joined the Philippine Army's 15th Infantry Battalion in a One-Stop-Shop Medical Mission in the interior village of Karkum in Sapad.
1st Lt. Marloue Decin of the Army's 15th Infantry Battalion mourned Dr. Perlas' death, saying, "He was a great loss for us and the medical team of the province who served and attended to the health needs of the Muslim and Christian community in Sapad."
A great loss, indeed, to the entire country itself where many are now crying for justice for the fallen doctor. - Bert A. Ramirez
Source: Philippines Information Agency