One less pediatric surgeon-A A +A
Thursday, January 24, 2013
JOHN Pope was a journalist, so I presume he did his research on Dr. Reynaldo Rafols.
Pope would have known that Dr. Rafols was one of the very few pediatric surgeons in Cebu. Very few means five.
Dr. Rafols was a member of high standing in the medical community. Because of the nature of his profession, he was meticulous and exacting. He had to be; there is no room for mistakes when operating on a child.
I did not know Dr. Rafols but my doctor-friends did. He was their mentor at Cebu Institute of Medicine and a colleague. They say he inspired people to do their best and to enjoy what they do.
Dr. Rafols did not inspire Pope, a Canadian whom the doctor had the misfortune of being neighbors in a middle class subdivision in Cebu City.
Instead, Dr. Rafols riled up the foreigner. As head of the homeowners’ association, he had called Pope’s attention to the complaints of their neighbors about the foreigner’s disregard for the house rules. Those who knew the doctor say Rafols was frank and authoritative, traits that could be misinterpreted as arrogant. He was a man who took care of everyone.
Pope did not like being confronted by the doctor.
This triggered the hostility between the doctor and the foreigner, a giant of a man by Filipino male standards.
Pope, who had been described by some of his former colleagues at the Prince George Citizen as “weird” and “a bit of a gun nut,” attacked Rafols in his clinic that the doctor shared with his wife, a pediatrician. Had the building guards and the police not subdued Pope, the two doctors would have been shot to death. This was in May 2011. That incident traumatized the couple and led to their filing of charges against Pope.
Litigation in the Philippines is not exactly speedy. Dr. Rafols found it tedious and had expressed a few times to his doctor-friends that he wanted the case settled soon.
He did not like going to the Palace of Justice; he had young patients who demanded his care; they were his priority, not this weirdo.
In one Christmas gathering last month, a conversation between Rafols and his fellow doctors led to the court case. Rafols often described Pope as “labad nga foreigner.”
He wanted Pope deported but that meant he had to initiate and spend for the proceedings himself. He was not up to it.
Some of his friends joked to him about getting rid of his unfriendly neighbor “quickly” and “out of court.” He was appalled at their suggestion. He told them he would have the law take its course so no way was he going to hire someone to permanently dispose of the “labad nga foreigner.” He was a Pope lest they forget, he joked back.
Had they foreseen events on Jan. 22, 2013, they would have carried out their suggestion themselves. The esteemed Dr. Rafols would still have been alive now.
The death of Dr. Rafols is a huge loss to the medical community of Cebu. He was one of only five pediatric surgeons here. Very few doctors go into pediatric surgery, it being a field of medicine that calls for intensive attention and requires years of training. Children are the most demanding patients and it takes supernatural patience and dexterity to alleviate their pain.
With what happened to Dr. Rafols and his lawyer Jubian Achas and to Assistant City Prosecutor Theresa Casino, a Cebu City Prosecutor said on TV yesterday, “(Pope) deserved to die.”
Fr. Monico Catubig, who said mass at the crime scene yesterday, prayed for all those who suffered, including Pope, whose childhood no one among us knew.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 24, 2013.