Volunteer doctor shot dead in Lanao del Norte

MANILA, Philippines – The medical community is mourning the death of 31-year-old Dreyfuss Perlas, a physician who had been deployed to Lanao del Norte under the government's Doctors to the Barrios (DTTB) program.

Perlas was shot dead while riding his motorbike in Barangay Maranding Annex on Wednesday night, March 1. He came from a medical mission in Sapad town and was on his way home to Barangay Maranding where he was renting a house.

The doctor was rushed to the Lanao del Norte Provincial Hospital in Kapatagan town, but was declared dead on arrival.

Lanao del Norte Provincial Police chief Senior Superintendent Faro Antonio Olaguera said they are investigating a heated argument that Perlas reportedly had with a patient or a patient's relative at Bontilao Country Hospital late February.

"We have gathered evidence, including his phone, which we are submitting to the Anti-Cybercrime Group," Olaguera added.

Police recovered a .45 caliber cartridge from the crime scene.

Grieving medical community

The Filipino medical community took to social media to express their grief over Perlas' sudden passing.

Describing Perlas as an "Aklanon deployed [to] Lanao del Norte where no one dares to work," JR Ong, one of the slain doctor's batchmates in the DTTB program, said Perlas chose to stay in Lanao del Norte even after his contract ended 3 years ago.

A program by the Department of Health, DTTB provides "quality health care service to depressed, marginalized, and underserved areas through the deployment of competent and community-oriented doctors."

Below are some online posts from Perlas' colleagues:

Perlas finished his undergraduate degree at the University of the Philippines Los Baños in 2006. He completed Medicine at the West Visayas State University in 2011. – with reports from Raisa Serafica and Bobby Lagsa / Rappler.com