DOH decries 'senseless' killing of another doctor

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 15) — The Health Department pleaded for help in protecting health workers, after three doctors were killed in just five months.

"We ask our local governments to please protect our doctors and health workers! Help them so they can serve you better," Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in a statement on Friday, three days after the killing of Dr. George Repique, provincial health officer of Cavite.

Repique was gunned down by a riding-in-tandem at around 9 p.m. on July 11 while in his car on his way home. The gunmen aimed at the backseat, where Repique was seated.

Repique and his driver Riorito Bacasa were rushed to the General Emilio Aguinaldo Memorial Hospital. Repique died during treatment from five gunshot wounds. He was 47.

His driver survived after only his thigh was wounded.

The Trece Martires police are investigating the motive behind the crime. They said five persons of interest may provide vital information.

Deputy Police Chief Jaypee de Guzman said it's obviously premeditated, and the doctor received death threats in the past.

"So allegedly mayroon daw two years ago parang nagumpisa na yung threat. To be a provincial health officer is malaking posisyon, maraming taong haharapin, kakausapin, o nakakasalamuha," De Guzman said.

[Translation: "Allegedly, the threat started two years ago. To be a provincial health officer is a huge task, you have to face, talk to, and deal with many people."]

In the CCTV footage obtained by CNN Philippines, the motorcycle was spotted escaping the crime scene. Bystanders who refused to be named said the motorcycle had no plate.

'Senseless, brutal'

Ubial joined the medical community in condemning the "senseless and brutal killing."

 "I wish to express great grief over this unfortunate incident. We have lost yet another dedicated health worker and I am extremely saddened by the fact that Dr. Repique was the third victim in a row after the still unresolved killings of Dr. Dreyfuss and Dr. Jaja early this year," Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said.

Volunteer doctor Dreyfuss Perlas was shot dead in Lanao del Norte on March 1, while ophthalmologist Shahid Jaja Sinolinding was assassinated in his own clinic in Cotabato City on April 18.

Read more: Volunteer doctor slain in Lanao del Norte

Also read: DOH: Another barrio doctor killed

Non-government organization Health Alliance for Democracy, however, said it is the Health Department that should issue a policy to provide better protection for health workers.

"[If I am a doctor] at the frontline and I'm facing such problems, I'm being harassed and I'm receiving death threats, who do I turn to? Where do I go? Walang ganoon, walang ganoong nakaset-up (There's no such thing in place now)," the group's vice chairperson, Gene Nisperos said Friday.

CNN Philippines' Eimor P. Santos contributed to this report.