Philippine Govt Official Dies of Heart Attack After Testing Positive for COVID-19

Aie Balagtas See and Jeoffrey Maitem
Manila and Cotabato, Philippines
2021-01-06
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Philippine Govt Official Dies of Heart Attack After Testing Positive for COVID-19 Police commandos arrest Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim (center), a rebellious army officer, during an assault at the luxury Peninsula hotel in Manila’s Makati financial district, Nov. 29, 2007.
[AFP file photo]

Danilo Lim, a former general with the Philippine Army’s elite Scout Rangers who had led two coup attempts during his military career and was serving as an official in the Duterte administration, died Wednesday, the president’s spokesman said.

Lim, 65, the chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, had tested positive for the coronavirus on Dec. 29 but had been asymptomatic, according to colleagues. The MMDA, in a statement issued Wednesday, said Lim died of cardiac arrest.

“The palace expresses its deep condolences to the family, loved ones and colleagues of Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Danilo Lim,” Harry Roque, spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, said in a statement.

Lim “served the Duterte Administration with professionalism, competence and integrity. He would be dearly missed,” Roque said.  

The secretaries of the departments of health and defense called Lim a “true leader and front liner.”

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, a former general, said “the country lost an esteemed leader, who valued public service above all else.”

“His vision, which he carried through from his beginning as a young officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines to his later years as a civilian public servant, was to uphold good governance and lead by example,” Lorenzana said, in a separate statement.

A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and a member of the Philippine military class of 1978, Lim was born in June 1955 in northern Nueva Vizcaya province, the youngest of five brothers and the son of a Chinese rice trader and a Filipina.

After returning from the United States, Lim joined the Scout Rangers, a unit used in anti-guerrilla operations and jungle warfare, where he served with distinction. As a young officer, he was twice wounded while fighting Muslim insurgents on southern Jolo Island.

In 2003 and 2007, Lim led two coup d’état attempts.

In 2007, he was arrested after leading a siege in Manila’s business district to express disdain against the scandal-ridden administration of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He and other officers were on trial at the time for a 2003 mutiny, when they walked out of the courtroom and took over an upscale hotel in Manila’s financial district.

The rebellious officers held out in the building until Arroyo’s forces stormed the establishment and flushed them out.

Despite the failed coups, he was later reinstated.

Lim contested and lost in the 2010 senatorial elections, but was tapped by Duterte to lead the MMDA in 2017.

Coronavirus situation

Meanwhile, a 30-year-old woman from the Cagayan Valley Region, who left for Hong Kong on Dec. 22, tested positive there for a more contagious variant of COVID-19 on Jan. 2, the Philippine Department of Health said on Wednesday.

The variant – which is said to be 70 percent more contagious than the previous known COVID-19 strain – was first detected in the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, the Philippine government said that the new variant had not been detected in the country so far.

The government had earlier banned the entry of foreign travelers from the U.K., as well as 20 other countries and territories, including the U.S.

Based on analysis by government scientists, “the UK variant was not detected in any of the 305 positive samples submitted to them from nine institutions” so far, the Philippine health department said in a statement.

The samples analyzed were collected between November and December, from patients admitted to various hospitals that “included travelers who tested positive again upon arrival at the airport,” the department said.

The Philippines, with a population of about 109 million people, had recorded more than 480,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, logging the second highest number of infections in Southeast Asia after Indonesia.

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