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7th victim in Bulacan drowning found

Dino Balabo (The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2014 - 12:00am

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – Rescuers recovered yesterday morning the body of the seventh victim in a drowning incident in San Miguel, Bulacan.

Maiko Eleva Bartolome, a first year tourism student, was found at around 8 a.m. several meters away from the area in Balaong River where they drowned Tuesday afternoon.

 Bartolome was found under a rock, rescuers said.

On Wednesday, rescuers found the bodies of Jeanette Rivera and Mary Magdalene Navarro under a bridge meters away from the area.

Four of the victims were recovered minutes after the incident. They were Helena Marie Marcelo, Michelle Ann Rose Bonzo, Mikhail Alcantara and Sean Rodney Alejo.

The Bulacan State University (BulSU) offered assistance to the families of the seven victims, who were part of  a group of students on a field trip to Madlum Cave in Barangay Sibul. 

University president Mariano de Jesus appealed for sobriety and requested prayers from the public for the victims and their families.

He said a crisis committee was created to investigate the incident, adding appropriate measures would be taken based on the result of the investigation.

De Jesus announced that another prayer vigil would be held today on campus.

The families of some of the victims vowed to file charges against the university, the trip organizer and the tour agency.

The municipal government of San Miguel has temporarily suspended tours at Madlum Cave while the provincial council investigates the incident.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said BulSU officials will face administrative, civil or criminal charges if they are found to have committed lapses that led to the deaths of the students.

CHED executive director Julito Vitriolo said the agency would conduct a separate probe into the drowning incident.

Vitriolo said initial investigation by a committee created by the university showed the school failed to submit to CHED’s regional office documents required for the conduct of a field trip.

Under CHED guidelines, schools must justify whether such an activity is relevant to the course.

It said students should also be covered by insurance, accompanied by their teachers, and provided with accredited vehicles.

BulSU administrators earlier showed waivers signed by the students and their parents, exempting the university from any liability should something happen to them.

“Waivers are not absolute. It only shows that the students are allowed by their parents to join the activity but these do not cover deaths and injuries,” Vitriolo said.

He said CHED could also suspend educational tours.– With Helen Flores  

           

 

BALAONG RIVER BARANGAY SIBUL BULACAN STATE UNIVERSITY DE JESUS HELENA MARIE MARCELO HIGHER EDUCATION JEANETTE RIVERA AND MARY MAGDALENE NAVARRO JULITO VITRIOLO MADLUM CAVE SAN MIGUEL
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