DR. MODESTO Llamas, a Thomasian surgeon and four-term president of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), died on Monday, March 18. He was 83. 

The PMA, the country’s largest group of medical professionals, confirmed his death in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

“The entire Philippine Medical Association mourns the passing away of Dr. Modesto O. Llamas, one of PMA’s hardworking, compassionate and servant leaders who continued to serve the Filipino people even after his term of office,” it said.

Llamas took the helm of PMA in 1997 and was reelected in 1998. During this tenure, the group clinched the Most Outstanding Professional Organization award from the Professional Regulatory Commission for the first time. 

He won the presidency again in 2005.

Nearly a decade later, in 2012, Llamas was elected to a fourth term. 

In his last year as president, the PMA threw its support for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill, which provided access to contraceptives, and the Sin Tax Bill, which levied a tax on the purchase of cigarettes to be used to improve the healthcare system.

The PMA lobbied for a new law repealing the Medical Act of 1959, but the bill languished in Congress.

Llamas has long called for a law protecting the rights of healthcare workers. “We are trying to convince the government to improve the working conditions of doctors nationwide,” he told the Varsitarian in 2008.

He was dragged into a financial dispute with Iloilo chapter members near the end of his term, which cost him his reelection. 

In the 2013 PMA elections, Llamas was defeated by Dr. Leo Olarte, an orthopedic who was eventually forced out a year later over allegations of tax evasion.

“Societies under our umbrella look down on us for the way our last election was conducted, very degrading, just like in the real politics!” Llamas wrote in a column titled “PMA Election – Not PMA DIRTY Politicking,” published in the group’s newsletter in May 2013. “Dirty politicking should have no place in PMA!”

Born on Jan. 24, 1941, Llamas specialized in general and peripheral vascular surgery. He earned his medical degree from the University in 1965.

He completed his internship at the Rochester General Hospital in New York and residency at the Boston University Hospital in Massachusetts, both in the United States.

Llamas became president of the Philippine College of Surgeons in 1994.

The former PMA president retired from teaching at the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery in 2008. A decade later, he was named as one of the most distinguished alumni, recognized by the faculty in preparation for its 150th anniversary in 2021.

Llamas had also served as medical director of the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center.

His remains were interred at the Manila Memorial Park on Saturday, March 23.


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