Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Doctors, Terrorists, and Politicians

The recent events in London and Glasgow, and the ongoing investigation, uncovered an unsettling detail: most of the alleged attackers are medical doctors.

BBC reports on the background of some of those arrested, and preliminary investigation shows that those arrested are predominantly medical doctors or students. The doctors arrested in Australia was seen by colleagues as "quietly spoken, diligent model doctors" (as reported by The Australian).
A senior police source told the Mirror newspaper: "Most of the people under arrest either work or are being trained to work in the NHS." - The Australian
What does this mean? Are doctors now capable of doing such dastardly, terroristic acts? "Look below your doctor's examination table, you might find some C4 there." I don't think so, and neither does British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith:
"Terrorists are criminals, whose victims come from all walks of life, communities and religions," she added. - The Daily Mail (UK)
Rather, it is the trust and confidence that the common man gives to a medical doctor by virtue of his being one.

Using this information to its advantage, terrorist cells may be finding it easier to integrate themselves in western communities with a severe doctor shortage, and concealment of any covert activity is consequently easier. Of course, the concept of medical doctors always coming from well-to-do families does not help matters much: a lot of doctors are from humble roots, and may have all the motivation to launch attacks on what is perceived as a decadent, opportunistic society.

Closer to home, we could see that a lot of our politicians are medical doctors, especially at the local level - congressmen, governors, mayors, and councilors. In the province of Iloilo alone, we have 2 re-electionist doctor-congressmen in Ferjenel "Ferj" Biron and Janette Garin.

The national government has not been so lucky (or is it the opposite?), with Senators Juan Flavier and Luisa "Loi" Ejercito Estrada not seeking reelection.

Why do a lot of medical doctors manage to get elected to positions of power? Anecdotal evidence points to an innate trust of people for doctors: healers, confidants, practically working for the common good. The oft-repeated spiel of lawyers who challenge doctors for elective posts (doctors having no knowledge of administrative or legislative actions) usually backfire, dealing the most damage come election time.

In spite of this apparent electoral success, we find sordid tales like this thread posted in a doctors' forum:
I remember once when I was about to bring my son to his class and while helping him tie his shoes I noticed them with cracks and looked very old. I looked at my wallet and I didn’t have money to buy him a new pair. And I do have a noble profession, one that cannot afford a new pair of shoes for my son. That stroke me and then I said, “Enough with this madness.” Philippines will not give me and my family a decent living. And my family couldn’t wait by hoping that the system will change in a less probability that it would be soon.
It's ironic that doctors could not take care of their fellow doctors, and reform our health care system to provide more opportunities and a decent living. It's also ironic that these same doctors in the Senate and Congress have not established bills assuring a certain percentage of the National Budget to be used for health care.

Oppressed as they may be in terms of financial stability (and professional opportunity), we have to thank the Filipino doctors' psyche and its adherence to time-honored values of pagiging matiisin and mapagpakumbaba. Because, actually, our beleaguered doctors and other health care personnel have more reasons than these terrorist cells to revolt, if only to raise their lot in life.

Too bad, because even if a doctor plans to protest by self-immolation, the government (and most of the apathetic society at large) would only remark:
If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. - Harry S. Truman

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