A Dabawenyo Philippine Army officer suspected of having contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) died on Wednesday afternoon became the first casualty to the dreaded virus from the military frontliners.
The victim was identified as Army 2LT Vince Magbanua who was declared dead on arrival at the Norzagaray Municipal Hospital at 3:40 p.m. after he was rushed there for severe breathing difficulty. In a statement, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo on Thursday confirmed Magbanua’s death.
The 24-year old Magbanua hails from Davao City and was assigned in Bulacan. He was a graduate of Colegio de San Ignacio in Davao City and was a member of the Philippine Military Academy’s Alab Tala Class of 2018.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa was among those who first posted a message of sympathy to the family of Magbanua.
The Dabawenyo lawmaker and PMA alumnus wrote: “Rest easy 2Lt Vince Magbanua, my cavalier, kababayan and schoolmate of my children. You have now complied everything. Mission accomplished.”
A father of Magbanua’s classmate in the PMA also posted: “2Lt Vince Dela Cruz Magbanua PA died helping others while exposing himself to covid-19 in the outskirts of Sierra Madre . THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE WAS MADE SO THAT OTHERS WILL STAY @HOME.”
“It is with great sadness that we mourn the death of one of our young and promising officers, Army 2LT VINCE MAGBANUA at 3:40 pm yesterday, April 8,” Arevalo said in a statement.
According to Arevalo, Magbanua was rushed to the hospital on April 7 in an ambulance after complaining of having difficulty in breathing. The Army officer was then diagnosed with acute bronchitis and was advised to return to the barracks to medicate and undergo self-quarantine. The Army has yet to receive a report on whether Magbanua has COVID-19 but contact protocols and contact tracing are already being implemented in the 48th Infantry Battalion as a matter of precaution.
“We extend our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of 2LT MAGBANUA, a member of PMA “Alab Tala” Class of 2018. He is looked up to by his superiors, peers, and subordinates for his dedication, commitment, and idealism,” the AFP official said.
Magbanua’s remains was immediately cremated on Thursday, according to a source, witnessed by his twin brother Viko, also an Army serviceman belonging to the PMA 2019 class and assigned in Quezon Province.