FOLLOWING the death of two infants, reportedly residing inside the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Center, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said there could be a “health crisis” inside the center sheltering indigenous peoples (IPs) from various provinces in Davao Region.
Duterte-Carpio said in a radio interview on Tuesday afternoon, May 26, that the death of two infants with only days apart is a cause of concern.
“In a span of 10 days, duha ka bata na ang nag-expire (two infants already expired.) So, there is a problem, because highly unlikely man gud nga sa isa ka gamay nga grupo, daghan ang mamatay. So kung naa’y bata karon (mamatay), after 10 days naa napud mamatay, (There is a problem because it is highly unlikely for a small group to have several deaths. So when a certain child dies, then after 10 days, another one also dies), meaning there is a health problem inside,” the mayor said via on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.
In a previous Sunstar Davao report, an eight-month-old Lumad infant died on May 9, 2020 and was buried at Madapo Cemetery. The baby was later exhumed on May 13 by personnel of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO), Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco), and officials of 8-A Poblacion District, Bankerohan for an autopsy.
The Police Regional Office (PRO) expressed alarm after learning that the eight-month-old infant died of pneumonia, which is one of the symptoms of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
PRO-Davao Director Police Brigadier General Filmore Escobal said they are worried that the infant’s death might pose possible contamination inside the facility that houses around 700 Lumad.
On May 18, a three-month-old Lumad infant also died.
Reports showed that the three-month-old infant, whose identity is yet to be disclosed, was rushed to an unknown hospital by a Lumad couple, identified to be the parents, on the evening of May 17, 2020.
The infant’s cause of death has yet to be determined as an investigation is still ongoing.
Authorities are not discounting the possibility that it is a Covid-19 related death.
Duterte-Carpio said the Inter-agency Advisory Committee on Health and Unity, in coordination with the other local government units (LGUs) and other national government agencies, had a meeting on Friday, May 22, to discuss the current situation of the UCCP Haran.
The mayor said representatives from Haran and some tribal leaders were also invited and involved during the meeting.
“Although wala sila’y physical presence didtoa sa meeting, (but) then nasabutan sa inter-agency on what to do, nasabutan didto that we will give them our proposal on what will happen, and what we shall do (Although they weren’t physically present during the meeting, but the inter-agency discussed what to do in their current condition. During the discussion, we also gave them our proposal on what will happen, and what we will do),” she said.
Among the proposals they presented is to conduct a site inspection, and personally meet with the IPs sheltered inside the compound.
Duterte-Carpio said they expected to get a response from the UCCP camp on their proposal by Saturday, May 23.
The mayor said the dialogue was a way to avoid tension between both parties, which had been ongoing since 2015.
“Ang akoang concern man gud dili ta gusto magsulod sa Haran nga magbinirahay og tao because we will unnecessarily expose health care workers and law enforcement nga frontliners nato sa possible Covid-19 problem... Kung naa man. Wala ko nagsulti nga naa. Mas maayong dad-on sa mas maayong sabot ug pag istorya para han-ay atoang intervention sa ila (My concern is that we would like to avoid causing tension by barging inside Haran, and take away people because we will unnecessarily expose health care workers and law enforcement frontliners to Covid-19. Although, I’m not saying there is. But let us bring this through a mutual dialogue so that we will have a smooth intervention),” Duterte-Carpio said.
“Gipasabot namo sa ilaha nga there is a health crisis, and we need to do something about it. That’s why we wanted to do it ing-ani, dunay discussion, dunay proposal, dunay response and we move forward from there (We let them understand that we are doing this because there is a health crisis, and we need to do something about it. That’s why we wanted to do it this way: there’s a discussion, proposal, and a response. And then, we move forward from there.),” Duterte-Carpio added.
SunStar Davao tried to reach out to UCCP Southeast Mindanao Jurisdiction Area Bishop Hamuel Tequis for comment on the mayor’s statement but he has not yet responded as of Wednesday. (RGL)