Agusan del Norte town to get help from late doctor’s family

Wenilyn Sabalo

THE family of Dr. Zuriele Arambulo, or Doc Z, wants to continue her plans to help the community of Santiago in Agusan del Norte, so they’ve decided to establish a foundation in her name.

Doc Z was killed after she was hit by a sports utility vehicle in Santiago last Feb. 7, 2019. She had yet to report for duty as a volunteer for the Doctor to the Barrios program, an initiative of the Department of Health that deploys physicians to flar-flung and underserved areas.

Her father, 62-year-old Arturo, said it’s what she would have wanted.

“Plan Z is a foundation that will help residents of Santiago. We will continue her plans to set up a foundation in the town. The foundation would have been established had she not died,” he said in a mix of Tagalog and English.

Doc Z graduated with a doctor of medicine degree from the Cebu Institute of Medicine (CIM) in 2017. The 28-year-old was originally a native of Cainta, Rizal.

Six days after she was killed, Charlie Cayetano Prior surrendered to police in Santiago.

Prior, a former spiritual adviser at the Butuan City Hall, is facing criminal charges of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide. The case was filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 34 in Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte.

Arturo said aside from free medical, dental and surgical assistance to Santiago residents, they will offer free scholarships to those who are willing to study but need financial assistance. He said they already have scholars in the town.

“I interview students who are really in need. They can even study in Surigao if they want. They can stay in the house we built for our family there,” he said in Tagalog.

Although plans and works for the foundation have yet to be finalized, many of Doc Z’s friends, especially her colleagues at CIM, support the cause.

“So far, we agreed to meet either in February or March. I know that if we need doctors, her friends at CIM are willing to serve as volunteers,” Arturo said in a mix of Tagalog and English.

Meanwhile, the family hopes the person responsible for Doc Z’s death will be brought to justice before her first death anniversary.

“I’ve spoken with the pastor. He approached me after the hearing on Sept. 27, 2019. I asked him why he didn’t plead guilty during the arraignment even though he already agreed to do so. That was what we agreed on Facebook. He even told me personally he would plead guilty and yet he did not,” Arturo said in Tagalog.

“He was asking sorry from us,” he added.