Filipino nun in Spain dies of COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — A Filipina Benedictine nun has succumbed to coronavirus in Spain, her congregation said.
Sr. Maria Gratia Balagot, who was the superior of their community in India, was only visiting Spain to renew her visa when she contracted COVID-19, according to a post on CBCPNews, the official news service of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
“Please pray for her and for her community in India and for the whole congregation during this difficult time,” CBCPNews cited part of the Facebook post by US-based Missionary Benedictine Sisters-Norfolk Priory, the congregation to which Balagot belonged.
The congregation added that their sisters in Korea are on the frontlines in their hospitals and clinics as well as those in the Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Namibia, Brazil, and India.
Spain ranks second to Italy in the number of COVID-19 patient deaths worldwide and is fourth in the number of cases.
As of March 29, the death toll in Spain has jumped to 5,982, while the number of confirmed cases also soared to around 73,235.
Meanwhile, the church group National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos, are calling for extraordinary measures to release political prisoners amid the coronavirus crisis.
“We can all attest that these are not ordinary days. This is a time for saving lives through much-needed grace and ingenuity. An undeniable threat of catastrophe hovers over jails, filled far beyond capacity in the Philippines. Decongesting facilities will help secure the lives of detainees and jail personnel,” said Alminaza in a statement.
“The Duterte administration should act with utmost urgency to decongest prisons as well as engage mass testing and provide separate quarantine facilities… this is a matter of life and death calling for extraordinary measures,” he added.
“As the number of positive COVID-19 cases spike up, the most Christian thing to do is to leave no one behind. Don’t forget those in prison, especially human rights defenders facing trumped charges, who have staunchly worked for social justice and human rights. They need compassion, they need justice and they need protection. They should be released under humanitarian grounds,” the NCCP said in a separate statement.
“We could start with the vulnerable groups – the sick and elderly, low-level prisoners, and political prisoners or those detained because of their political beliefs or by simply expressing dissent,” the group said.
“It is also deeply distressing that in a time of a public health crisis, authorities fixate on threats of imprisonment as punishment to disobedience. This does not only exacerbate the situation in our detention facilities but also fails to address the urgent humanitarian needs of the people,” it added.
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