Priests no longer give last rites to the dying
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2020 - 12:00am

I learned from my Facebook page that many frontliners in Metro Manila, notably, doctors  Raul Jara, Israel Bactol, Rose Pulido and Greg Macasaet have all reportedly died due to COVID-19. All we can say is, we salute them for their unselfish service and we know that God would give them his peace. We also pray for all the medical frontliners in our hospitals in Metro Cebu. We are after all, not living in normal times. This is the first time that nations on earth are suffering from the same problems in health and the economy.

I also got this report that a good friend of mine, Alan Ortiz died last Monday in Paris due to complications from COVID-19. This was reported by his daughter Monica Ortiz in her Facebook page. He was 66. I met him many times when he was the head of the National Transmission Co. (NTC) and later he was with SMC Global Power Holdings, was president of Philippine Council for Foreign Relations. As reported in his daughter’s FB post, she said, “Dr. Alan T. Ortiz - our dearest Alan, beloved father, Kuya to his family, and indulgent lolo - passed away in the early morning of March 23 due to complications from COVID-19.”

What we learned from her was that Alan Ortiz left Manila on March 3. He was in the French capital for a security conference. Before Paris, Alan Ortiz traveled to London in December. We really have no idea whether Alan Ortiz was infected by COVID-19 in London or in Paris. When we would meet, we would talk about a common love… motorcycles. So may we request the pious reader to please pray for the repose of his soul.

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As I pointed out in my Freeman column, today is not a good time to get sick. When people, especially senior citizens have flu or respiratory problems, chances are the hospital staff will consider you as Person Under Investigation (PUI) where you have to follow the protocols issued by the Department of Health (DOH). So if you are a senior citizen having a slight cough and did not really travel, then it is better for you to stay home and recuperate. Going to the hospital these days might put you under suspicion of having the virus and placed with persons having the same symptoms. In short you might just get infected because you are in the hospital. See what I mean?

I know of a family friend who passed away after a heart attack. However since they brought her to the hospital, the medical staff had to treat her as if she was having a virus. However before any test could be done, she succumbed to a heart attack. It was then we learned that the protocol issued by the DOH is that patients under suspicion have to be buried or cremated within 24 hours as no wakes are allowed at this time.

I also learned that priests here are denying requests by people seeking for the Sacrament of Extreme Unction or Last Rites for the dying. I can only second-guess that this is due to the report that we got from Italy now the epicenter of COVID-19 in Europe, that already 50 Italian priests have died due to COVID-19 infection. I would like to believe that these priests must have given Extreme Unction to the dying patients and our priests are learning from this incident.

Meanwhile there is hope that the Pasteur Institute bombarded the people in the former French colonies with Choloroquine,  the drug used against Malaria with stunning success. Also Sanofi has a similar drug (remember they brought in Dengvaxia here) that we can only hope is the best drug to combat the Coronavirus.

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I got this announcement from Sabin M. Aboitiz, Aboitiz Group president and chief executive officer that the Aboitiz Group provides a lifeline to its business units’ clients and customers to cope with the COVID-19 crisis as well as implement measures to ensure unimpeded delivery of service. This is a follow-through to its call for public-private collaboration as a key to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 by keeping the economy moving.

Aboitiz added, “We in Aboitiz fully recognize the impact of the current situation on our clients and customers and we are doing our best to help them cope until things return to normal. We are with you as we beat the odds together during this challenging time.” Thanks to the effort by the Aboitiz Group. Also added to this Aboitiz Group has donated P100 million to Project Ugnayan, a collaboration among local companies, as part of the group’s sustained efforts in assisting communities affected by the current pandemic.

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