Statement of DOH Secretary Ubial Regarding Murder of DOH Doctors

I join the entire medical community and all the nation’s health workers in calling for an end to the killing of government doctors in the Philippines. The brutal murder of one of our valued physicians, Dr Vicente Soco, the provincial Health Officer of Dinagat Islands from more than a decade, is the latest in a series of vile crimes against entire communities that are in need of health care services.
 
The Department of Health, along with the health offices in local government units, and the government law enforcement agencies are doing all they can to protect government doctors, most especially in underserved areas. However, these doctors can only be truly safe when they are protected by all members of the community as there is only so much that the government can do.
 
The DOH battle cry of “All for health towards health for all” embodies the principle of community participation and ownership in the processes of ensuring that all our fellow countrymen enjoy good health, and have access to professional healthcare services when needed. Thus, we reaffirm the need for the contribution and cooperation of all sectors in Philippine society from local government to civic groups and even individual households, in the shared goal of according every Filipino with the quality healthcare he or she deserves. For most people, such assistance can simply take the form of supporting and protecting the health systems and personnel in their locality. 
 
Killing a town’s physician is almost like killing the countless people who rely on this physician to ensure their health and longevity. While murdering a doctor leaves behind a bereaved spouse, children, siblings, parents, and other family and friends, it also leaves behind an untold number of people whose lives become endangered when they are deprived of vital healthcare services this doctor provided.  
 
Our countrymen must be made to understand that a community’s doctor is not just another person with a job, but a gatekeeper of the health situation in each community. Many of our doctors have been known to go far beyond the call of duty by working beyond their allotted time, dipping into their own resources to pay for medicines for indigent patients, and even literally donating their own blood for their patients. As rural physicians are figuratively the lifeblood of the health systems in their respective locales, it is a shame for a community to be remiss in amply protecting them.
 
We call for the speedy resolution of the murder of Dr Vicente Soco, and of the other government physicians who lost their lives to violent crimes in the past several months.  We enjoin our nation’s law enforcement, justice organizations and witnesses to bring the early resolution of the case so perpetrators of this crime will be put to justice and do what it takes to deter any further killings by these outlaws. 
 
There is nothing to be gained by finger pointing and attempting to lay the blame for this spate of murderous crimes on any agency. The murders of these five doctors are heinous crimes committed by lawless elements who do not seem to comprehend or even care about the massive negative ramifications these murders have on our fellow countrymen. 
 
Let us put an end to these killings now! Let us protect our nation’s health workers!