- Read full transcript of Senator Richard Gordon’s speech on the death of Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas
- Sen. Gordon urged the Senate to pass resolutions to honor Dr. Perlas.
- Sen. Gordon calls out the PNP for the prompt service of justice to the family.
Last March 1, 2017, a municipal health officer was shot dead by unidentified assailant on his way home from a medical mission.
Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas, “Toto” to his family, was among the doctors-to-the-barrio program by the Department of Health (DOH). He joined the program right after he passed the board examination in 2011 and was deployed in Sapad, a far flung municipality in Lanao del Norte, which have been deprived of a rural doctor for 12 years. After he finished his two-year contract, Dr. Perlas, who is an Aklanon, chose to stay and serve the locals of Sapad.
Friends, families and the whole medical community were united in mourning and clamoring justice for Dr. Perlas’ untimely and senseless death.
For his part as a legislator, Senator Richard Gordon has delivered a sponsorship speech on Dr. Perlas’ death. He also urged her co-senators to pass an urgent resolution to honor Perlas.
Read the Full Transcript of Senator Richard Gordon’s speech on the death of Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas
“I rise today to sponsor a resolution involving one of our young people who served in a program of the DOH called Doctors to the Barrios.
This young man who studied in the University of the Philippines, in home-grown schools in Aklan and in the University of Western Visayas; grew up and was raised by a couple that worked very, very hard.
His mother, Nene, is a school teacher to this day in a school in Aklan. And his father was a humble seafarer. And this hardworking couple were able to raise two siblings–Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas and the other, a nurse named Louella. Today, Louella stands alone as part of the family because Dr. Dreyfuss speaks no more. He was killed in Lanao Del Norte in Brgy. Maranding, Kapatagan, on his way to Lala Town around 7:30 p.m. when he was gunned down.
The story is very poignant, Mr. President, because this young man, not only had parents who worked very, very hard to get him educated–imagine a seafarer father saving money to put his son, who is also a scholar, by the way, to school all the way to medical school. And when he got to medical school and graduated from the University of Western Visayas in Iloilo, after having passed UP Los Baños majoring in Biology as a scholar thereat, he decided to join in 2012, a year after he graduated, the Doctors to the Barrios Program. He was sent to Sapad Municipality in Lanao Del Norte Province in Mindanao, which has not enjoyed the services of a municipal health officer for 12 years. There, he was known for traveling solo to remote villages to conduct medical checkups and deliver other medical services.
Mr. President, this is a country where many of its citizens do not see a doctor when they die. Six out of ten Filipinos die without having seen a doctor. This young man went to the barrios to minister to his countrymen who could not afford a doctor and minister to their health. At times, he would shell out his own money to ensure that destitute patients are able to buy the prescribed medication or pay for ambulance services when required and he opted, after his term, to remain in Sapad even after his tour ended. He was a doctor to the barrios all the way to his death.
He served also in Zamboanga. And in Zamboanga, if we can take a look at the picture, he was there during the Zamboanga siege where 14 of our fellow Red Cross volunteers were wounded and Dr. Dreyfus Perlas was also there exposing himself, along with the other volunteers, in the line of fire.
I spoke to his mother this morning—we have been trying to contact her several times—and, of course, I told her the sympathies of the Senate and that there have been several proposals to investigate the death within the Senate. It is of little of comfort to a family that had high hopes for a young man, very tall, very handsome—I think he was 6’3” in height—and kind. So there are no words that can fully express his parents’ agony and sorrow that the life of their first born was abruptly snapped out when he was staying in the community that he loved so much and opted to serve.
As members of this august Chamber, we join his family and the whole nation in their moment of bereavement over the untimely and violent demise of an extraordinary doctor whose Christlike dedication to the Hippocratic Oath and to the people he wanted to serve must serve as an inspiration for others who are in the medical field. Think of our own children, who will someday, because of their belief, volunteer to go to a far-flung area and, then, while serving there for humanity, is suddenly killed.
Think of the agony, think of the dreams lost, not necessarily the tears but, also, let us think not only of the woes and the agony but also the great honor that the family must feel and that we must also help them feel by coming out with a resolution of condolences in the highest legislative body of this country.
We, therefore, call on the government and I will not let it fall on deaf ears, after all, I have known the bitterness of losing loved ones through crime. We call government, therefore, and the authorities, especially the police force and the Judicial branch to immediately take action and to unceasingly pursue the malefactors of the crime until they are all captured so that justice is served on the death of Dr. Perlas.
Late this morning, I heard that one of the malefactors had already been shot and killed. I do not really approve of the killing because I would like to see and I would want to see if he indeed was the malefactor, that he goes to trial and that the whole country sees that the judicial system work and how he must have to pay for his sin if indeed that man was the one behind the killing.
I understand there were two others involved in this killing. Therefore, the Senate must not stop. I urge all the senators to, sign this resolution unanimously so that we could send this to the PNP, Gen. Bato dela Rosa himself, so that he will realize the urgency of the need to solve the case of this young man.
Therefore, Mr. President, we all know that there is an increase in trend in criminal-related cases, including issues of extrajudicial killings in our country for the last several decades. Tonight, I am trying to push remedial legislation to address this extrajudicial killing and it is not spot decision. Some of the proposals that we have written have been done by this representation previously and we want to strengthen them, like the PLEBS, or, for that matter, finally get riding-in-tandem, motorcycle-driven killers to justice. There are other bills that I would like to sponsor tonight and, hopefully, we can turn to our countrymen and say that the Senate was not asleep.
We can debate, we can shout at each other, we can even have words against each other, but what we must not do is show that we are crippled, that we are unable to react to the spate of extrajudicial killings that has astounded this country for the last four or five decades, most especially to the young. The young man who went out of his way, who went in harm’s way, at nagpunta doon sa Mindanao na kung magkaminsan sa isang taga-Maynila o taga-siyudad ay nakakatakot isipin na pupunta doon upang magsilbi sa mga taong hindi niya kilala, karamihan ay iba ang faith, although we worship the same God. He never made fear be in the way of his aspiration, not to allow that statistics of six out of 10 Filipinos dying without ever seeing a doctor.
And so today, Mr. President, I rise and ask the Senate to express unanimously as it hereby expresses our profound sympathy and sincere condolences to the parents on the death of a selfless doctor, Dr. Dreyfuss Perlas, to honor him and to inspire others to follow his youth. We are all defined by our youth. And this young man would have a great future if he had been allowed to do so. Most of us were young when we started. We are what we are today because of our past. Scholars or student leaders, as the case may be, joining extracurricular activities in college, pursuing our cause, in the prime of our youth proving our idealism not just by words but by deeds and proving to the last breath of the body that it was not a worthless sacrifice.
So, Mr. President, I would like to end there, and say, “Death be not proud.” The Body will pardon me. I am often most easily affected. I tried to be strong heart. But when something like this happens, it reminds all of us of our frailty and our duty to our fellowmen.
Let this sacrifice be worthy and not be wasted and let it not add to our apathy, our indifference, our feeling of being mere spectators and the drama of making life a little better for all, to seek justice for those who cannot defend themselves anymore and to find the sympathy and the condolences required to console the parents of a great young man that they have raised through a great difficulty and sacrifice.
I ask the Senate, therefore, to write the necessary documentation and submit it to the family today.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.”
– Senator Richard Gordon