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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

72 drown during Holy Week break – PNP

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At least 72 people have died by drowning in the country since the start of the month, police reported on Monday, attributing the unusually high figure in part to millions hitting the beach for Holy Week.

Four others were reportedly killed in vehicular accidents.

Meanwhile, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he was able to have a “very quiet” Lenten break.

The holiday is traditionally marked in the Catholic-majority nation by millions of people leaving the capital Manila to spend time with their families in the provinces.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokeswoman Col. Jean Fajardo said the high toll was partly due to “revenge travel” as the country emerges from years of mobility restrictions to contain the coronavirus.

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“People got a bit excited to go to beaches and resorts,” Fajardo told AFP.

A breakdown of the fatalities was not immediately available, but Fajardo said the victims included children who were left unattended by guardians while swimming, as well as people who hit beaches while drunk.

Fajardo called the death toll “unusual” and higher than past years.

“Resorts and beaches were packed. This also contributed to the number of drowning incidents,” she added.

The World Health Organization has said drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide, with an estimated 236,000 fatalities annually.

PNP Chief. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. said that since April 6, incident reports came from Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon).

In the report, a total of 57 drowning incidents were posted with 62 deaths, with the latest reported in Batangas wherein three people died while two others went missing in the town of Lemery.

Meanwhile, 11 vehicular accidents were stated with four deaths. Despite the Holy Week tragedies, Azurin said that the observation of Holy Week is generally peaceful with no serious security-related incidents recorded since April 6.

“We attribute this to police visibility and civilian cooperation for the peaceful observance of the Lenten season,” he added.

The Philippine National Police has been on heightened alert since April 2, with almost 75,000 policemen deployed across the country to secure roads, transport hubs, and other places of convergence.

"Deployment of personnel will focus now on bus terminals, seaports, and airports as activities and movement of the traveling public will be more in these areas," Azurin added.

The alert status will be lifted at 8 a.m. on Tuesday when almost all of those who traveled for the Lenten break are expected to have returned to their homes and workplaces.

Speaking to the members of the Malacanang media on the sidelines of the Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) commemoration, President Marcos said he was able to take a break and contemplate deeply during the Lenten Season.

The Chief Executive said that he was able to practice fasting on Good Friday. "Very good. Very quiet. I did, as I said, I did my usual routine where I went into a retreat. For the weekend, starting on Friday, I fasted.

It was a good time to take a breath, take a step back, take long walks, and think very hard about what it is that we have to do," President Marcos said.

Mr. Marcos earlier disclosed that he would have a usual retreat with his Family during the Holy Week. With AFP

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