Archive for the ‘death’ Category

Davao mayor denies the existence of a death squad blamed for more than 800 murders

March 31, 2009

It’s appalling to learn that since 1998, there are about 800 deaths which the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) attributes to death squads in Davao City. Leila de Lima, chairman of CHR says the unsolved killings are the most audacious violations of human rights prompting an inquiry over the “Davao Death Squad” aka DDS.

There have been reports that killers aren’t afraid of being identified for no one responsible for the hundreds who were killed have been prosecuted. The CHR chief is met with a challenge from Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who denies that death squad exists in his jurisdiction. He blames the deaths to drug traders and gang wars. The mayor ostensibly challenges the CHR to come up with evidence that his government is involved in vigilante killings.

“The Coalition Against Extrajudicial Summary Executions (CASE), composed of rights groups, and religious and concerned individuals, has tallied 814 vigilante-style executions from 1998 to February this year. More killings happened in the city this month. Many of the victims were reported to have had criminal records.”—-Inquirer (03/31/09, Tupas, JM)

Judge Isaac Robillo, the executive judge of the Regional Trial Court of Davao believes DDS exists and is condoned by a “bigger person,” —otherwise, the killings wouldn’t go on for such a long time with unrestrained brazenness.

The Rape & Slay of Rebelyn Pitao

It is said 185 and 45 of the victims are young adults and children respectively—an ignominious record for a place that prides itself of peace and order. The most recent is the brutal slaying of 20-year old teacher Rebelyn Pitao, the daughter of a communist New People’s Army (NPA) commander Leoncio Pitao.

Unidentified men snatched Rebelyn earlier this month while she was on her way home. The following day, she was found dead. Her body disclosed signs of torture and rape. Her father and Duterte tagged the military as responsible for her death.

The huge number of unsolved deaths is mind-boggling. Since 1998, only one case of summary execution has been filed and the public seems comfortable with such an astounding record. By death squad or not, if truly murders happen in the city how nothing has been done for 20 years to stop the lawless killings? De Lima rightfully asks the public to speak out against the immoral practice of taking the life of human beings without judicial process. About 16% of those killed in Davao are between 13 to 17 years old.

The defensive Mayor Duterte is reputedly overbearing in dealing with petty criminals in Davao. If he has nothing to do with the murders, why doesn’t he take the lead to probe the deaths so that justice can be served? Instead of showing lack of cooperation, isn’t it good to work with the CHR to get into the bottom of the crimes? Vigilante killings destroy the public reliance to the rule of law. (Photo Credits: Keith Bacongco; Barryohaylan)=0=


Broadway star Natasha Richardson died of brain injuries in a ski accident

March 19, 2009

Forty-five year old Natasha Richardson, daughter of well-known actress Vanessa Redgrave died on March 18, 2009 in Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, New York following a ski accident in Montreal Canada. The acclaimed movie personality was with her husband Liam Neeson and two children in the resort.

“Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha,” the statement said. “They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”—- Yahoo News/ AP (03/18/09, Italie, H)

The star of the Tony award-winning Broadway revival Cabaret, Natasha apparently suffered head injuries during a ski training fall in Mont Tremblant resort in Quebec.

Richardson was not wearing a protective headgear during the accident last Monday. The movie celebrity was initially asymptomatic, but was admitted at a local hospital in Canada after complaining of headaches. She was later flown to New York City for further treatment, but died not long after hospital confinement. The granddaughter of reknown British actor Sir Michael Redgrave and the niece of actress Lynne Redgrave, her death was announced by Alan Nierob, her husband’s publicist. (Photo Credit: AP/ Joel Ryan) =0=


Recalling Ciudad Juarez and the dead in the US-Mexico border drug war

March 9, 2009

I could just imagine Ciudad Juarez, a border city of Mexico close to El Paso, Texas which had become a killing field of warring drug lords in the area. I was there when the warm dusty place South of the border was still peaceful, about two decades ago.

“Nearly 40 percent of the dead last year tested positive for cocaine or marijuana. About 20 percent were never claimed by their families, many out of fear. Cardboard boxes with bloodstained cowboy boots, cell phones and bulletproof vests are stacked to the ceiling in the crime lab…Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.3 million across the border from El Paso, Texas, has a modern, estimated $15 million morgue and crime lab thanks to international support after another notorious spate of killings — the Women of Juarez. More than 400 women have been raped, strangled and dumped in the desert since 1993.”—-Yahoo News/ AP (03/08/09, Watson, J)

It’s appalling to know Ciudad Juarez which brings memories of cities in the Philippines has become a perilous place to be. The Mexicans living there whom I met were very friendly. As a group, they share many character traits of Filipinos. I feel sorry they are now in harms way as criminality surges in the area.

The rivalry for narcotics peddlers in the drug corridor had been fierce. Last year more than 6,290 died in drug-related killings which gripped both Mexicans and Americans living where gangs and their members operate.

Eight weeks after the start of 2009, a record number—-more than 1,000 people were mercilessly murdered, making the peace and order situation in the area worse. The morgues had been swamped with bodies of murdered victims, many with signs of foul play.

The Mexican army is being asked to help contain the spate of violence which makes even the morgue workers afraid. US students and tourists planning to travel in trouble-spots in Mexico are being warned of the dangerous situation.(Photo Credit: Hobby-Photographs) =0=


Rap artist Francis Magalona, 44, dies of leukemia complications

March 7, 2009

The country has lost a modern-day artist, a nationalist in his own creative way. Francis M. used music and fashion to promote love of country among Filipino youth.” —Sen. Bong Revilla

Entertainment world in the Philippines grieves the passing of popular rapper-composer Francis Magalona (1964-2009,) a 44-year old father of eight, of leukemia, in Medical City Hospital, Mandaluyong, Metromanila.

Following the disclosure of his illness last year, Magalona was treated with a series of chemotherapy which brought the cancer in remission. However, the ebullient husband of Pia Arroyo succumbed to severe infection—sepsis following a bout of pneumonia.

The celebrated singer was waiting for a bone marrow transplant before his death on Friday, March 6, 2009. His remains were brought to Christ the King Memorial Chapel at Green Meadows in Quezon City. (Photo Credit: fadedmilkyway)=0=

UPDATE: On March 11, 2009, Wednesday, Francis Magalona’s remains were cremated.


11 die in Cavite firecracker factory blast & 100+ Kenyans perished as they tap fuel from a truck

February 3, 2009

There is a horrid parallel between the fire cracker factory blast in the Philippines and the conflagration following an explosion of a gasoline truck in Kenya.

In the Cavite, on Jan 29, 2009, a firecracker factory suddenly exploded killing 11 workers and injuring 60 others. Though the cause of the blast wasn’t immediately known, faulty electrical wiring was suspected. By all probability, there could have been a breach in the safety measures in the production or handling of pyrotechnics. Accidental fires continually burned down similar factories before. The loud blast and ensuing inferno damaged nearby houses and commercial buildings.

The tragedy had been made worse by another blast which occurred the next day in Molo, Kenya. More than 100 people perished and greater than 300 more were either burned or reported missing. A fuel truck caught fire along the road when people tried to scoop free gasoline from the overturned vehicle on January 30, 2009.

“Everybody was screaming and most of them were running with fire on their bodies, they were just running into the bush,” said Charles Kamau, 22, who was driving through Molo, on Saturday night when he saw the road blocked by hundreds of people with gerry cans, plastic bottles and buckets — anything to siphon some free fuel. As he waited for the crowd to disperse, the gasoline ignited with a blast that was felt miles away. Prime Minister Raila Odinga said someone’s cigarette might have caused the explosion.”—-GMA News TV/ AP (02/01/09)

Hundred of miles apart, the two fire incidents speak of the dangers poor people face in order to survive. In the Philippines, the firecracker production is fraught with dangers, but people still do it for the job—so they can earn some money. Current government regulations fail to control the accidents that occur every year in these fireworks production facilities.

In Kenya, the pilferage of fuel from pipes and tanks has resulted to deadly accidental explosions. In 2006, about 200 people died in a gasoline blast. These incidents show how desperate people can go in order to survive. Without improvement of their working and living conditions, more of these accidents are bound to be repeated in the future. Burn injuries are among the most difficult to treat in medical practice. (Photo Credits: Blue_fam; Reuters/ Ranoco,R) =0=

Young Brazilian beauty queen dies of sepsis

January 25, 2009

The 20 year old Brazilian beauty queen Mariana Bridi da Costa died of the effects of sepsis after weeks of fighting an overwhelming systemic infection caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a gram-negative bacteria.

In late December 2008, the young model and family breadwinner who represented her country in international beauty contests was initially suspected to have kidney stones and urinary tract infection (UTI) which worsened and led to septicemia (presence of infection in the bloodstream,) loss of consciousness, and the amputation of both her hands and feet.

Pseudomonas is commonly found in soil and water and can cause a gamut of conditions ranging from mild local skin infections to systemic overwhelming ones which involve deep-seated body organs. In severe cases, like the case of Da Costa, the virulent organism can cause poor blood circulation (hypoperfusion,) shock, and breakdown of tissues leading to organ failure, and eventual death.

A rare cause of UTI, the bacteria can be anti-biotic resistant. It may infect patients with low immunity (immunocompromised,) diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hospitalized patients, and those made vulnerable because of certain debilitating illnesses. Known to be in good health before her illness, Da Costa’s infection has baffled her doctors.

The death of the beauty queen on January 24, 2009 sent shock waves to those who admire her. Many concerned individuals who learned about her plight expressed their sympathies and prayers. Her website was overwhelmed by outpouring or support from people all over the world. (Photo Credit: AP)=0=

So long Mary! With reconciliation, RP may have a thousand years of peace

January 17, 2009

Mary Ejercito, the mother of disgraced ex-president Joseph (Erap) Estrada got outstanding honor when she died. For three days, the 103-year old matriarch of the Estrada clan was laid for viewing at Pinaglabanan Church in San Juan, Manila before she was interred on Saturday, January 17, 2009 at San Juan Public Cemetery. Numerous people from all walks of life streamed in to pay their respects and condoled with the bereaved family.

Among those who visited the wake in St. John the Baptist Church were Pampanga representative and presidential son Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, and Senator Manuel Villar Jr.” GMA News.TV (01/17/09)

Political personalities, movie celebrities, scribes, friends and foes came. Estrada’s chief political rival Pres. Gloria M. Macapagal (who quickly pardoned him after being convicted of plunder) sent her condolence. So did political enemies like Sen. Richard Gordon, undersecretary Reynaldo Berroya, and former Pres. Corazon C. Aquino who was among those who ousted Estrada in the second controversial people’s power. They stopped by the San Juan church to be with the mourners.

In attendance too was Gov. Luis (Chavit) Singson, Ilocandia’s rabble-rouser and witness to Erap’s nightly debaucheries and theft which caused his shameful dismissal from Malacanang Palace. Laarni Enriquez, one of Estrada’s mistresses prevailed for 15 minutes in the church under the glare of people’s curious eyes before leaving.

There were countless ordinary citizens who lined up to pay tribute clogging roads and interrupting vehicular traffic. Funereal wreaths and flowers overflowed. It was to the elderly centenarian’s honor and sympathy to her family that the majority attended the burial.

Politicians are known to be strange bedfellows. Since Estrada’s political rivals and loyal friends came, Mary’s death seemed a time for real reconciliation. If true, the Philippines, rejecting hypocrisy in government leadership and society, may well realize a thousand years of political calm and progress. (Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin/ Pol Briana) =0=


Wicked Weather Count: 2,500 stranded in Bicol, 50 homes destroyed in Cebu, 16,000+ flood evacuees in Agusan del Sur

January 15, 2009

Barely 3 days after reports of floods in Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental, and Northern Samar left a trail of death and inundation, about 2,500 passengers were reported stranded in Bicol, mostly in Matnog, Sorsogon. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) temporarily interrupted the people’s sea travel due to dangerous weather conditions sweeping the country.

In Cebu, huge waves and ensuing floods destroyed at least 50 homes in coastal villages. Mayor of Ginatilan town Dean Michael Singco said people in these places were forced to move to safer grounds. They were transiently housed in schools and public buildings, before dawn on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 to avoid injuries and loss of life.

In Davao de Norte, 9 fishermen were rescued in rough seas after their nine unregistered boats ventured to open waters. Similar wicked weather caused flooding in Agusan del Sur when Agusan river rose, forcing about 16,267 people from 2,546 families to evacuate in temporary shelters. The towns of San Francisco, Prosperidad, La Paz, Veruela, Bunawan and Esperanza.—GMATvNews (01/15/09, Pantaleon, A)

A motorboat bringing passengers close to Bantique, Panay in the Visayas Islands sank killing Sylvia Cerezo, 63. Five other passengers namely, Godofredo Roxas, Rowell Baaquilar, Nida Baquilar, Jocelyn Baquilar and Margarita Dizon were plucked out from sea and led to safety. The small boat had Butacal and Pontevedra, Capiz as its usual passenger route.

The spate of wicked weather and calamities remind us of the importance of disaster preparedness in the community. People need to be pro-active in helping themselves for the government assistance is too limited. Needing our commonsense decision, we can’t completely rely on others concerning safety during travel particularly when the weather isn’t good. (Photo Credits Gahenty; Lino Almueda) =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “Floods in Gingoog City, Northern Samar, and Misamis Oriental drive thousands to evacuate” Posted by mesiamd at 1/12/2009; “With 17, 000 islands, Indonesia shares maritime woes with the Philippines” Posted by mesiamd at 1/13/2009

Obituary: Mary M. Ejercito

January 14, 2009

Mary M. Ejercito (1905-2009), loving mother of Philippine ex-president Joseph Estrada died at age 103 in San Juan Medical Center in Manila on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, of multiple organ failure after a lingering illness.

The wake is being prepared at St. John the Baptist Church in San Juan, Metro Manila. The schedule of burial hasn’t been released by the bereaved family. UP Ibalon expresses its sympathy and requests readers to pray for the eternal repose of Mrs. Ejercio. Requiescat in Pace. (Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin/ Pol Briana, Jr)=0=


Obituary: Msgr. Edmundo Surban

January 7, 2009

Nylda Surban announced the demise of her brother, Rev. Msgr. Edmundo Surban, a Filipino Catholic religious leader and chaplain based in New Jersey. Veiwing was held at McLauglin Funeral Home at 625 Pavonia Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07306 last Jan. 3 and 4 at 6 to 9 p.m.

A concelebrated mass was held at St. Aedan’s Chruch in Bergen Avenue on Monday, January 5, 2009, before his mortal remains were brought to the Philippines. Interment will take place in Calolbon, Catanduanes. UP Ibalon expresses condolence to Msgr. Surban’s family and requests readers to pray for his soul’s eternal repose. (Photo Credit: Agdenza)

May his soul and the souls of all the departed rest in peace. Amen.” =0=