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CHR: Probe into NCMH irregularities should continue after chief’s killing


The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Monday urged the government to continue its investigation into the alleged irregularities within the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) despite the recent killing of its chief.

On Monday afternoon, NCMH chief Roland Cortez and his driver, Ernesto Dela Cruz, were shot dead in Barangay Culiat, Quezon City.

"Despite the death of the medical chief, the Commission urges the government to continue its investigation of the irregularities within the NCMH, while the CHR also has started looking into the case,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said in a statement.

Cortez was in the news in April after reassigning former NCMH chief administrative officer Clarita Avila to the Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in Las Piñas in April after she spoke about the coronavirus situation in the facility.

Cortez had instructed her not to speak on the issue, saying she was not a spokesperson for the facility.

"In this time of a global health crisis, unethical and corrupt practices in public health institutions undermine people’s access to healthcare, especially the most marginalised and disadvantaged,” De Guia added.

The CHR also denounced the “murderous assault” against the two victims, stressing that this occurred hours before President Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address.

“[T]he brazen and vigilante-style killing of a public official in an area where there is heavy police presence is deeply concerning as this signifies how emboldened the perpetrators are in carrying out a crime in broad daylight,” De Guia said.

It also appealed to the Philippine National Police and local authorities to carry out a swift investigation to hold the perpetrators accountable.

"For its part, the CHR commits to conduct an independent probe and will closely monitor the situation. We call for justice for the slain public servant and extend our deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones of Dr Cortez and his driver,” De Guia said. — Joahna Lei Casilao/BM, GMA News

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