By Martine Sadongdong
The cremated remains of a young Philippine Army trooper who died after exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 was sent back to his hometown in Davao City on Friday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.
The ashes of 2nd Lieutenant Vince Magbanua arrived at the Davao Air Station in Barangay Sasa, Davao City aboard a C-295 aircraft of the Philippine Air Force.
“The ashes of Lt. Magbanua were already transported to Davao, he was cremated [Thursday]. All persons/ soldiers in contact are already on quarantine,” AFP Chief of Staff General Felimon Santos Jr. said.
Magbanua’s twin brother who is also a soldier, 2nd Lieutenant Vico Magbanua, accompanied the cremated remains of his brother from Manila prior to the turnover of the urn to their parents, according to the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom).
According to Vico, he will never forget the advice his brother told him during the most trying times: “Stay alive. I love you all.”
A simple religious blessing was held by the district chaplain of the Coast Guard District Southern Mindanao. It was followed by a final salute rendered by personnel of the EastMinCom’s Tactical Operations Wing (TOW).
Magbanua, 24, died last Wednesday after experiencing severe difficulty in breathing. He was declared dead on arrival by attending physicians at the Norzagaray Municipal Hospital in Bulacan.
A day before his death, he was brought to the hospital due to the same complications. The attending physician’s diagnosis was acute bronchitis. He was advised to return to barracks and observe self-quarantine.
Santos said they have yet to receive Magbanua’s COVID-19 test result from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
He added that safety precautions were implemented to ensure that all those who had close contact with the deceased soldier are traced and subjected to quarantine protocols.
Magbanua hailed from Davao City and was a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Alab Tala Class of 2018.
He was designated the platoon leader and executive officer of the Weapons Company, Headquarters Service Battalion of the 48th Infantry Battalion, 7th Infantry Division based in Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan.