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36 poor BARMM ophthalmic patients get free eye surgeries

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Thirty-six more ophthalmic patients, some of them squint-eyed, benefitted from a seven-day eye care mission of the figurehead of the Bangsamoro government and a physician-member of the 80-seat regional parliament that culminated on Saturday.

Radio reports here on Sunday stated that many of the 36 marginalized patients who benefited from the weeklong outreach activity of Regional Parliament Member Kadil Monera Sinolinding Jr. and Bangsamoro Chief Minister Ahod Balawag Ebrahim are from the Muslim, Christian and non-Moro ethnic communities in far-flung areas in Central Mindanao.

The continuing eye care missions of Sinolinding, a physician-ophthalmologist trained in India, started right after he was appointed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in August 2022 as member of the interim parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, led by Ebrahim, who is chairman of the central committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Ranking officials of BARMM’s health ministry told reporters on Sunday that many of the 36 eye patients served in the past seven days by Sinolinding’s team underwent free cataract and ptyregium surgery, done with the help of volunteers from the non-stock, non-profit medical service outfit Deseret Ambulatory Referral Center based in Kabacan town in Cotabato.

A number of the 36 beneficiaries of their latest outreach mission were squint-eyed, or “duling” in most Filipino vernaculars, whose eye defects were fixed by Sinolinding and his assistants via delicate surgical procedures.

One of the squint-eyed patients treated for free, the 49-year-old farmer Bernie Garde of President Roxas town in Cotabato, showed himself to reporters here on Sunday to prove that his left eye deformity had been fixed by Sinolinding’s team.

“I can’t thank them enough for this free treatment,” Garde told reporters.

Sinolinding said they are targeting to treat an additional 100 more poor eye patients after the Islamic Ramadhan fasting season, which started on March 12 and shall end in the second week of April based on the lunar Islamic Hijrah calendar.