Youth solon urges probe of Close-Up Forever Summer party deaths

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Monday, 23 May 2016 - Last Updated on February 5, 2017

Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon today filed House Resolution No. 2704 urging the House Committees on Dangerous Drugs and Youth and Sports to jointly probe the alleged drug-related deaths in the “Closeup Forever Summer Concert” at the SM Mall of Asia concert grounds, Sunday early morning.

The concert, dubbed by organizers as “the summer’s biggest rave party” was attended by more than 14,000 people.

Based on news reports, those who died were Ariel Leal, 22; Lance Garcia, 36; Ken Migawa, 18; Bianca Fontejon, 18 and U.S. citizen Eric Anthony Miller, 33.

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The victims who were found unconscious at different parts of the concert venue were unrelated and under the influence of alcohol when brought to different hospitals for treatment. “They just collapsed individually. They did not know each other. They were all in different places at the time,” Pasay City police investigator Giovanni Arcinue said in a report.

Inquirer.net reported that Leal and Garcia were brought to the San Juan de Dios Memorial Hospital while Fontejon and Miller were rushed to the Manila Doctors’ Hospital. They were declared dead on arrival while Migawa died Sunday night while getting treatment at the San Juan de Dios Hospital.

Based on the initial investigation by the Philippine National Police, Fontejon and Garcia died due to massive heart attack.

Closeup, a subsidiary of Unilever Philippines and the organizers regret what had transpired despite the “very stringent measures and precautions we have put in place to ensure the safety and security of all attendees.” Closeup and SM Supermalls said in separate statements that they are already cooperating with investigators.

Alleged drug use

Based on House Resolution No. 2704, Ridon noted that there were information from social media stating that the drinks distributed at the event were laced with “Green Amore,” a lethal mix of ecstasy and shabu.

“There are questions that investigators need to answer: If dangerous drugs were indeed available in the party venue, how were they able to slip in such substances? Are the concessionaires inside the venue involved? Clearly, the ‘stringent security measures’ or ‘precautions’ did not deter the proliferation of said dangerous substances. And surely what had transpired in the concert is not an isolated case,” Ridon said.

The lawmaker emphasized that the proposed House probe aims to aid legislation.

“We need to craft legislation that balances anti-drug policy and public safety. While we do not condone the use of dangerous drugs in any event whatsoever, there are certain finer details that need to be considered in enacting a new law against drug proliferation,” Ridon said in a press conference.

The lawmaker noted that in the United States, there is a federal law that explicitly tackles the proliferation of drugs in rave parties and concerts.

First introduced by then Sen. Joseph Biden as the “Reducing American’s Vulnerability to Ecstasy” (RAVE) Act, it was renamed as the “Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act,” and was passed by the US Congress in 2003.

The said act expanded federal laws to prosecute business owners if they “maintain drug-involved premises.”

“May this congressional probe lead to the crafting of legislation that can effectively curb the proliferation of party drugs, ensure the placement of common sense safety measures in rave events, and enhance the provisions of the current Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly its provisions on anti-drug educational campaigns,” Ridon ended.

Closeup Forever Summer annual music festival event started in 2013 and was dubbed as the biggest social-media powered event similar to Coachella Music and Arts Festival at the Colorado Desert in California.

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