Editorial: Preventable tragedy

·3 min read

In a span of 12 days, from July 13 to 25, these all happened in Cebu: A 20-year-old man died in a swimming pool in Minglanilla town; the 57-year-old budget officer of Daanbantayan died in a beach resort in the adjacent town of Medellin; and a 12-year-old girl died in a river of Carcar City.

One thing was common in their deaths: They all drowned.

As for the 12-year-old girl, Jendie Paran, she was swept by a flood caused by a sudden downpour while she was swimming with her companions in the river that traverses Barangay Can-asujan.

This happened on July 25, ironically World Drowning Prevention Day, which was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in April 2021 as “a global advocacy event that serves as an opportunity to highlight the tragic and profound impact of drowning on families and communities and to offer life-saving solutions to prevent it.”

Paran’s body was found on July 26, in Barangay Tuyom, some 10 kilometers from Can-asujan where she had taken a dip.

Drowning is a preventable tragedy.

A change in the weather is visible to the naked eye—if it is about to rain, the skies turn gloomy.

Rivers, especially those that traverse upland villages like Can-asujan, are prone to flash floods during a downpour. So visible signs of bad weather (dark clouds and rain itself) should be taken seriously—everyone swimming in the river must get out of the water and head home.

As for the drowning in a Minglanilla resort’s swimming pool, the man who was with his fellow employees for a company activity jumped into the eight-foot portion of the pool. His fellow workers who were in the shallower portion of the pool failed to notice him, but they should not be faulted as it was the resort’s duty to secure its clients.

A resort lifeguard has denied there were no lifeguards on duty at the time of the incident, which was captured on security camera. If there were lifeguards on duty, how come no one was able to rescue the man right away? The security camera footage showed the man waving his hands, clearly a gesture from a distressed person in need of help. If a resort employee was monitoring the video feed, the employee could have radioed a lifeguard.

Minglanilla Mayor Rajiv Enad issued an order last July 14 suspending the resort’s operations pending an official investigation.

In a Medellin beach resort, the Daanbantayan budget officer drowned after she fell into a manhole near the sea. Her granddaughter, who also fell with her, survived the incident.

Initial police investigation revealed that the hole was covered only with a bamboo table and there was no warning sign—a clear sign of negligence on the part of the resort’s management.

According to a UN report, drowning is a leading cause of accidental death, with over 200,000 people drowning every year. Thus, “making drowning a major public health problem worldwide. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death globally for children and young people aged 1-24 years. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death, accounting for seven percent of all injury-related deaths.”

The United Nations reported that over half of the world’s drowning occurs in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia regions. The Philippines belongs to Southeast Asia, and the Department of Health has reported that over 3,000 Filipinos die each year, with children vulnerable.

In Lapu-Lapu City, its Council has made a laudable move when it approved the resolution encouraging government agencies to promote drowning prevention and risk mitigation. Other legislative bodies in Cebu should follow this initiative.

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