Health Alliance for Democracy condemns in the strongest terms the killing of Dr. Sajid "Jaja" Sinolinding in Cotabato City, Tuesday. The ophthalmologist was shot dead alongside his security escort in his clinic by a gunman who posed as a patient.
HEAD is outraged that two doctors have been ruthlessly killed in two months. Last March Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas, a municipal health officer in Lanao del Norte, was shot in the back—his and Dr. Jaja's killers remain at large.
"How many more health workers need to die before the Department of Health and this administration stop idling around and start protecting our barrio doctors?" asked Dr. Joseph Carabeo, HEAD secretary-general. "Every day front line health personnel are putting their lives on the line to serve their countrymen, but the government repays them with indifference, deaf to the bullets that kill them."
|Health groups under the Protection and Justice for Frontline Health Workers (Pro-Just) call to stop the attacks on health workers, April 7, 2017.|
"What's glaring in Dr. Jaja's case is that he already had a security escort. This did not stop him from getting killed," Carabeo remarked.
Carabeo implored the DOH and the local and national governments to hasten the investigations on the deaths of Dr. Perlas and Dr. Sinolinding. "The underserved areas have lost much-needed doctors, and that their cases remain unresolved sends a chilling message to health workers all over the country," he said.
The DOH in particular must stop hiding behind the local government units and the national government, and assert its role as protector of health workers. "There have been cases where local governments were involved in the harassment of health workers and professionals. These must be taken more seriously. The continuous harassment and killings of health workers and health professionals must not be dismissed as 'isolated cases'. Simply transferring health workers from one community to another will not stop them from being targeted," warned Carabeo. “If not the DOH, then who else will?"