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Doctor comes home to run for Senate and ‘give back’ to poor

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By Joel Guinto
Last updated 01:37pm (Mla time) 03/27/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Doctor Martin Bautista left a lucrative practice in the United States, where he was earning as much as $4,500 a day as a gastroenterologist, and returned to the country in 2005, wanting to “give back” to his poor countrymen.


At the wake of his uncle, former De La Salle University (DLSU) president Rafael Donato in November 2006, Bautista said he found what he was looking for when “Ang Kapatiran” president Nandy Pacheco offered him a slot in the party’s senatorial ticket for the May mid-term elections.

Bautista said it took Pacheco a month to convince him to run. Now, he is one of three candidates of the “Ang Kapatiran,” alongside Zosimo Paredes, former Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) commission chief and lawyer Adrian Sison.

“Hindi lahat ay nasusukat sa limpak limpak na salapi [Not everything is measured in tons and tons of money]. You can’t take that with you to your grave,” Bautista said.

“I felt we have been blessed. We needed to get back to the Philippines,” he said in a podcast interview with editors and reporters.

Bautista and his wife, a pulmonologist, left for the US in 1989, after graduating from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Medicine.

“It wasn’t really that we had a choice. It was contingent to the promise that we will return. We felt it was right to come back when we were prepared to come back,” he said.

Two years after graduation, Bautista said 82 of the 140 graduates in his UP class had gone to the US.

Bautista said he performed procedures worth $600 to $900 five times a
day, on top of his professional fees.

Bautista said he and his wife, Sylvia Tan-Bautista, felt “blessed” when in the 18 years that they had stayed in the US, they established successful practices and had remained healthy, while some of their contemporaries had been stricken with disease, like cancer.

The couple returned in June 2005. Their four daughters, Kathryn, Victoria, Andrea, and Anna followed a year later.

Bautista said he and his wife offer their services for free and join Church-organized medical missions across the country. He said his family lives off their earnings from their US practice.

“Eighteen years after, the conditions [in the country] are even worse. Politics here is so corrupt, people make a living out of it,” Bautista said.

If elected, Bautista said he would push for the production of medicine locally. He said the hypertension drug Amlodipine, which is manufactured by a multinational, would cost P70 per tablet but a local alternative, hydrochlorothiazide, would cost only P0.10.

Like all Kapatiran candidates, Bautista said he would like to serve as senator only for one term, which he said was enough to initiate reforms.

“A politician thinks of the next elections, but a statesman thinks of the next generation,” he said.

He will oppose efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution, saying, “What this country needs is not another set of laws.”

He said he would favor a “compromise” between the government and former president Joseph Estrada who is on trial for plunder, saying it will be “more practical.”

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2007-03-27T08:38:58+00:00UTC03bUTCTue, 27 Mar 2007 08:38:58 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am03

Posted in Uncategorized

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