The group also pointed out that Nisperos and other health workers recently picketed in front of public hospitals to denounce the health budget cut.
KJ Rosales/File
Doctor threatened for criticizing government health care program
Artemio Dumlao, Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – A human rights group has condemned the harassment of a public doctor who criticized the huge cuts in the Department of Health (DOH)’s budget and the government’s health care program, allegedly perpetrated by state forces.

Karapatan yesterday reported that Dr. Gene Nisperos, a faculty member of the UP College of Medicine and president of the All UP Academic Employees Union-Manila Chapter (AUPAEU-Manila), has received a death threat from an anonymous person through text message. 

They said based on initial reports, Nisperos received a text message from an anonymous mobile phone number at 8:58 p.m. on Monday, threatening to kill him and his wife Dr. Julie Caguiat.

The text message supposedly read: “Both of you (referring to Nisperos and Caguiat) will line up with cottons on your nostrils in due time.”

Karapatan said the text message also indicated that the sender knew Nisperos’ place of residence and that it also threatened Nisperos that something bad will happen to his entire family.

The group linked the threats against Nisperos with a recent press conference he held with other health practitioners where they criticized the budget cuts of the DOH and the Philippine General Hospital and said that the country is under a “health crisis” following the recent outbreak of preventable diseases such as polio and dengue.

“The death threats were triggered by the recent statement of Dr. Nisperos and other health workers who directly coined the current situation of the health system as a ‘health crisis.’ For speaking out and pointing the structural defects of our health system, a doctor-teacher-unionist and his family are being harassed,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Karapatan said they have strong suspicion that state forces were behind the death threat as the same text message blasted Nisperos for being “very arrogant to challenge us to line up in government hospital.” 

“Instead of hearing and addressing the failures of our health system and governance, there are those, whom we suspect are state agents, who would rather shoot the messenger,” she added.

The group also pointed out that Nisperos and other health workers recently picketed in front of public hospitals to denounce the health budget cut. 

“We attribute this harassment to the Duterte government and their band of militarist ilk. There is a concerted effort to perpetrate atrocious hate and attacks against rights advocates who tirelessly and courageously speak out against injustices and anti-people policies that generate killings and human rights violations,” Palabay said.


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