TACLOBAN CITY – Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos ordered an investigation on the alleged hazing of Bureau of Fire Protection-Region 8 (BFP-8) trainees that led to the hospitalization of eight of them.

Accompanied by investigators from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) central office, Abalos visited a hospital on Friday and talked to Jan Allen Ferreras, one of the two trainees who is undergoing dialysis but details of the discussion were not divulged to the media.

The eight trainees were rushed to the hospitals last July 5, 2022, four days after their training started, allegedly due to kidney failure. The hospitalization of trainees led to speculations here that the trainees could have been hazed.

Ferreras, who was diagnosed with Acute Kidney Failure and Liver Damage due to Strenuous Physical Activity or Rhabdomyolisis, was discharged from the hospital last July 7, 2022 but continues to undergo regular dialysis until his creatinine levels return to normal.

Ferreras’s sister Joebelle turned to social media to seek help from the public for the hospitalization cost of his brother. Up to the time that he was discharged from the hospital, the bill already amounted to Php 114,000, which the family settled through the help of friends and relatives.

“Recently, his creatinine level instead of going down it went up to 1400 plus, which really hurt all of us. His nephrologist suggested a Hemo Perfusion, which costs Php 45,000 per session and that he would need three sessions to finally get his creatinine level back to normal,” Joebelle wrote in her social media post.

Abalos sought the help of NBI to investigate the incident and appealed to other trainees to speak up and help shed light into the matter.

“The NBI must check into the medical records of the hospitalized trainees, their injuries, and the circumstances leading to this incident,” he said. He added that the NBI is now tracing the whereabouts of the six discharged patients to get their testimonies also.

“This is not good. I would like to know what really happened here and we have to immediately look into this,” Abalos said, adding, “These trainees are like our children and we would like to get into the bottom of this. We will get experts to investigate this.” 

FCSupt Rodolfo Denaga, Regional Director of BFP in Eastern Visayas, denied allegations of maltreatment during the training as there was no hematoma found in their bodies.

He said four of the trainees initially complained of muscle pain and were found to have discoloration of urine during a laboratory test prompting the doctors to recommend that they be admitted in the hospital.

Denaga said he is supporting the investigation and is ready to be relieved anytime if that will be the decision of the higher authorities.

FCInsp Jean Tolosa, Chief of Health and Services Section, earlier said the trainees were diagnosed to have ‘acute kidney injury from rhabdomyolysis’, which she says happens when a person is suddenly subjected to an extraneous physical exercise without preparation. Abalos said he will source money initially from his own private foundation to be able to give at least Php 50,000 to every trainee who were hospitalized for any kidney-related illness. (By Elmer Recuerdo, EV Mail July 25-31, 2022 Issue)