An activist doctor and professor received death threats against himself and his family mere hours after joining a rally demanding a bigger 2020 budget for the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).
Dr. Gene Nisperos, president of the All UP Academic Employees Union-Manila Chapter (AUPAEU-Manila), received a text message Monday night, October 21, saying he and his family would be killed soon.
“I know where your condominium is. We will get your family one by one…You are dead by…including your children and wife,” the message in part said.
The message was sent by an unidentified person through mobile phone number +639567955995.
Nisperos told Kodao he blames the climate of violence created by the Rodrigo Duterte government against those who seek substantial reforms and genuine change in Philippine society for the latest threats against him and his wife, also a doctor.
“The climate under the Duterte government has fostered the kind of violence inflicted on those who stand for what is just and right. Sa panahon ngayon, ang gumawa ng kabutihan at manindigan sa tama ang siyang tinutugis. Naghahasik na takot dahil sa takot dinadaan ang pamumuno. Dapat ito labanan. Sa lahat ng anyo. Sa lahat ng pagkakataon,” Nisperos said. (In these times, those who do good and stand for what is right are persecuted. It is sowing fear because it rules by fear. This must be opposed in whatever form and whenever it occurs.)
As he was being interviewed by Kodao online, Nisperos received another threat from the same number Tuesday morning.
He however clarified that it was not him who issued the challenge to government officials to line up at government hospitals.
“It was at a different press conference by other doctors who challenged (Department of Health secretary Francisco) Duque and other government officials to line up at government hospitals. I was not even there,” Nisperos clarified.
Nisperos spoke at a rally at the PGH lobby last Monday, demanding a P10 billion budget for the country’s premiere government hospital.
A graduate of UP College of Medicine’s prestigious Intarmed program, Nisperos and wife, Dr. Julie Caguiat, served as community doctors in Mindanao before returning to Metro Manila to advocate for community-based health programs on the national level.
Nisperos is a professor at their alma mater.
Duterte government as suspects
The AUPAEU-Manila condemned the most recent death threats against Nisperos and family.
“Following months of profiling, red-tagging, vilification, threats, and harassment of members in other AUPAEU chapters, the Union sees this as a continuation of the attacks to activists, teachers, and unionists perpetuated by State security forces under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte,” the group said.
“This threat comes at a time when the AUPAEU-Manila is calling on all faculty, administrative staff, and REPS of the university to unite against the impending budget cut for the University of the Philippines, particularly on the UP Manila and Philippine General Hospital (PGH), regularization of contractual workers, among others,” it added.
The union said the threats are attempts to sow fear among teachers and unionists who assert for their rights and to fight for a higher state subsidy for social services such as education and health.
“[O]ur Union will not tremble in the face of vicious repressive measures and increasingly fascist attacks by this administration,” AUPAEU-Manila said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)