Bomb scare may discourage next Bohol surgical missions

Even if it was a prank call, the bomb threat to a private hospital in the city Tuesday afternoon may discourage future Bohol surgical missions, depriving still many more poor sick of free cure.

Philippine Gift of Life (PGL) President/Chief Executive Officer Francisca Baluyot condemned the “serious anti-life joke” made right when doctors from the US were performing free operations at the hospital.

Gov. Edgar Chatto directed the police to fully investigate and trace the identity of the culprit who should be punished.

He strongly warned any “sadist” individual or group from taking advantage of any situation by creating threat and sowing fear to the community.

The bomb scare from a still unknown prank caller to the Borja Family Hospital caused the responding policemen to have the building vacated, including the evacuation of patients to a safe place nearby.

Later on, the policemen declared the threat to be a hoax as they found no explosive.

Still, Chatto would want whoever was responsible to be dealt with accordingly and face the consequences of his act.

Chatto and Baluyot were behind the free operation on cleft lip and palate patients, who were almost all children, performed by surgeons from different American states led by Dr. Joseph Clawson.

The Bohol government principally sponsored the week-long surgical mission as facilitated by the PGL and assisted by other government agencies, medical and allied professionals, private groups, and volunteers.



In an interview a day after the scare, Baluyot told the author of the dangerous bomb joke, “Whoever you may be, you are killing the ailing poor. Give me your address. I’ll take to you the rest of the child patients and let you finish their operation.”

“I am not angry. I am really hurt,” she said.

Patients would have been in extremely serious trouble—like the risk of cardiac arrest that could lead to death—had the bomb scare and panic evacuation happened during the critical heart mission.

Also sponsored by the province and facilitated by the PGL, the mission was performed by doctors from the Philippine heart Center and Heart Foundation of the Philippines at the same hospital a week earlier.

US-based PGL chairman Dr. Ramiro Cadag quickly called Baluyot as soon as he learned of the incident here during the cleft lip/palete surgical mission.

Baluyot said the American doctors came over here, leaving their families and sacrificing the substantial income they could earn in the dollar country, just to help the ill Boholanos.

Yet, she said, they got a life-risking joke instead of “thank you” call.

The surgical team under the Clawson foundation included Dr. Wayne Ozaki, chief of plastic surgery at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and Dr. Stephen Bone, chief anesthesiologist, St. Charles Hospital, Oregon.

Ozaki’s clients include some of Hollywood’s rich and famous.

Even nations at war cannot bomb an enemy hospital as a universal humanitarian protocol under the Geneva Convention, said Baluyot who is a former long-time Red Cross – Bohol administrator.

During the so-called 911 bombing in Ney York, a tender Boholana child was undergoing a major heart operation at a hospital just two blocks away from the scene of the terrorist attack

The New York police rushed to secure the hospital until the completion of the critical surgery, which was likewise facilitated by the PGL.

When the Borja hospital bomb alarm broke out, parents of patients who had yet to be operated cried, believing that the mission might be stopped and the doctors packing up back home.

But the foreign surgical team and local partners decided to continue the mission until last Friday. They left yesterday.

It was Clawson group’s sixth surgical mission in the Philippines, their past five all done in Bohol, too.

At the height of the terrorist siege in Marawi City in June, Clawson’s group then asked for assurance that Bohol is safe when they would conduct the September surgical mission.

Baluyot is planning to retire once Chatto’s final gubernatorial term will have ended in 2009. (Ven rebo Arigo)

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