They partied all night, but for some, it was to be their last.
Thousands attended the “Closeup Forever Summer” concert at the Mall of Asia on Saturday but some of the concert-goers got high not just on the music but on booze and drugs, according to some witnesses.
By 4 a.m. on Sunday, or 12 hours after the party started, five of the concert-goers have dropped dead.
The Manila Times reporter Iza Iglesias, who was at the venue, said many of the attendees took “Ecstasy” pills along with strong alcoholic drinks that can be bought at the concert grounds.
While there were bouncers watching, Iglesias said it was hard for them to secure the area because they were outnumbered by the huge crowd partying wild.
Police said some 14,000 people packed the concert venue.
“You will really notice that many people were high on drugs because they were acting crazy, seemingly not aware of what they were doing,” Iglesias related. “There was an instance when a 17-year-old boy came to me and asked if I also have pills.”
She said some of the people were shirtless when the concert ended at about 4 a.m.
Minors, according to Iglesias, were able to get in because they were not required to present identification cards.
Even the inspection of bags was lax, Iglesias said.
Inspector Rolando Baula of the Pasay City Station Investigation and Detective Management Branch (SIDMB) said toxicology tests are being performed on the remains of two victims–Bianca Fontejon, 18, and Lance Garcia, 36–to determine if they took drugs.
He confirmed that Fontejon and Garcia died of massive heart attack.
The other victims were Ken Migawa, 18; Eric Anthony Miller, 33; and American Ariel Leal, 22.
Their families refused to have an autopsy performed on the three victims.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday said probers are trying to determine if the victims took ‘Green Amore.’
Floresto Arizala, NBI medico legal division chief, said the toxicology examination will determine what substance may have caused the victims’ death.
He added that the five victims collapsed and were taken to the San Juan De Dios Hospital in Pasay City (Metro Manila) but they all died there.
Arizala said the National Bureau of Investigation got information that many of the concert participants were given “Green Amore,” an illegal substance composed of “Ecstasy” and methamphetamine hydrochloride or “shabu.”
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had said “Green Amore” is categorized as a “fly-high” substance because users get extremely high after taking the drug.
Pasay City police investigating the incident are also looking at illegal drugs, poisoning and heat stroke as the possible causes of death, according to Chief Insp. Rolando Baula.
Closeup and SM Supermall expressed regret on the tragedy and vowed to cooperate with probers.
At the House of Representatives, Rep. Terry Ridon of Kabataan party-list filed a resolution urging the House Committees on Dangerous Drugs and Youth and Sports to jointly conduct an investigation in aid of legislation of the concert deaths.
“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 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 cited the need for a measure against the proliferation of drugs that balances anti-drug policy and public safety.
“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 told reporters.
“We need to note that the issue is not only the rampant drug use in ‘rave’ events, but also the lack of harm reduction measures in said venues. Many party drugs have been scientifically proven to increase core body temperature to extreme highs, thus overheating and dehydrating users who are usually stuck in hot crowded areas, leading to fatalities,” he said.
The lawmakers added that harm-reduction measures should be put in place in such events such as the provision of drinking water and ample breathing spaces.
WITH REINA TOLENTINO