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Pag-Asa Island council bet succumbs to heat stroke

MANILA, Philippines - A local candidate running for councilor in Kalayaan town in Pag-Asa island has succumbed to heat stroke due to the prevailing hot climate currently sweeping the contested Spratlys archipelago.

Incumbent and re-electionist Kalayaan Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon identified the fatality as 33-year-old Allan Nepomuceno, one the eight candidates for councilors running under his Liberal Party (LP) slate.

“Because of the searing heat, he just collapsed on Black Saturday and was immediately airlifted by a military plane provided by the leadership of the Western Command (Wescom) to Puerto Princesa City but succumbed while confined at the hospital three days later,” Bito-onon said.

Nepomuceno left his wife Hannah and four-year-old Elysa Jane. The couple are among the first inhabitants in Pag-Asa Island which the national leadership has converted into a civilian community from a military garrison.

At present there are already 23 civilian families composed of 90 individuals including children, permanently living in the island on top of a military contingent on forward deployment in the area to guard the country’s regime of islands in the hotly-contested Spratlys region being claimed in whole or in part by China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.

Bito-onon said the prevailing hot weather system in the island municipality also disabled, for several days, another resident he identified as Reynaldo Balsomo.

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He said Balsomo who has fully recovered after several days of confinement at the hospital in Puerto Princesa City, where he was also airlifted, has returned to his home in the island.

“Since Holy Week onwards, the climate in the island as well as in the region is very very hot. It’s good that a Wescom  plane was around to evacuate my two constituents to Puerto Princesa City,” Bito-onon said

The death of Nepomuceno left Bito-onon’s LP local bets for councilors in Kalayaan island town to seven candidates in the forthcoming May 11 synchronized national and local elections in the island municipality.

Two other independent mayoralty candidates challenging Bito-onon and his group in the forthcoming electoral contest for the political leadership of the fifth class Palawan island town with only 240 registered voters including those who are manning the town's extension office in Puerto Princesa City, have fielded their own candidates.

Mayoralty candidate Rosendo Mantes running without a vice mayor, is fielding a five-man candidates for councilors while Puerto Princesa City-based businessman Noel Osorio,  who is challenging Bito-onon and Mantes, has a vice mayoral runningmate but with only six councilors.

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