29 hurt in stampede in Zambo educational cash aid payout

Roel Pareño - Philstar.com
29 hurt in stampede in Zambo educational cash aid payout
Satellite image shows Zamboanga City High School (ZCHS) main campus along Don Alfaro Street, Barangay Tetuan in Zamboanga City.
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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — At least 29 people, mostly parents and students, were hurt and injured in a stampede early Saturday outside a school in Zamboanga City when a huge crowd swarmed to avail the government’s educational assistance. 

The incident happened around 8 a.m. at the entrance gate of Zamboanga City High School (ZCHS) main campus along Don Alfaro Street, Barangay Tetuan. A massive crowd of aspiring beneficiaries swamped as the campus gate opened, said Police Col. Alexander Lorenzo, acting director of Zamboanga City Police Office. 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regional office has scheduled the release Saturday of the educational assistance at the Vitaliano Agan Coliseum which is located inside the ZCHS main campus.

Police said the crowd started to build-up on Friday night as parents and students started to camp out when the DSWD issued the notice and guidelines of the payout.

Drone footage taken by a netizen showed the beneficiaries howling and screaming while shoving their way in as several people fell on the ground and were ran over.

Police said the security guards who were manning the gate were overwhelmed by the massive crowd who fought their way to get inside. 

The Zamboanga City Medical Center public affairs and customer care unit reported that at least 29 victims were brought in for treatment of injuries and for medical and oxygen administration.

The victims were described to be aged between 16 to 58 years old. Twenty-seven were females and two were males, according to the ZCMC-PACCU report.

Mayor John Dalipe immediately intervened on sight and directed the concerned agencies in ensuring proper coordination for the orderly payout activity.

Dalipe also stressed that the local government is ready to provide support and resources that will ensure the safety of the beneficiaries. 

Ivan Eric Salvador, DSWD-9 information officer, said the payout was cancelled due to the incident but they will continue the pre-registration for assessment and that qualified beneficiaries will be notified for the release of the cash assistance.

Salvador said the DSWD-9 targets to accommodate 500 beneficiaries every Saturday to avoid a huge crowd.

He said a qualified beneficiary stands to receive P4,000.00 for college and vocational school, P3,000 for senior high school, P2,000 for high school and P1,000 for elementary as educational assistance.

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