Closeup concert victim tests positive for synthetic drugs

Mara Cepeda

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Closeup concert victim tests positive for synthetic drugs

Manman Dejeto

Dr Wilfredo Tierra of the NBI says that while the two synthetic substances found in the body of one victim may not be illegal in the Philippines, their effects are similar to that of party drug ecstasy

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) confirmed  traces of two synthetic drugs similar in effect to the illegal drug ecstasy, found in the remains of a casualty at the Closeup Forever Summer open-air concert.

Ang findings sa toxicology report ay meron siyang (The findings in the toxicology report is that the person has) MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine) methylene homolog. This is not ecstasy pero (but) the effect is similar. There’s also one other drug, methylenedioxy cathinone. It is also a synthetic stimulant,” Dr Wilfredo Tierra, NBI medico legal division assistant chief, told Rappler on Thursday, June 2. 

According to Tierra, MDMA methylene homolog and methylenedioxy cathinone, a stimulant found in the khat plant, are not yet part of the prohibited substances in the country under Republic Act No 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. 

But he said that when a person ingests these “mood-altering” synthetic substances, the effects are similar with those produced by party drug ecstasy.  

“These are stimulants. They could cause increased heart rate and higher blood pressure. There will be an increase in perception or sensation. They are mood altering drugs,” said the medical practitioner of two decades.

Tierra spearheaded the autopsies on the bodies of concert victims Bianca Fontejon, 18, and Lance Garcia, 36, who died along with 3 others after attending the Closeup concert on May 21.  

He earlier told Rappler that the victims’ hearts were blackened and they had watery fluid in their internal organs. Fontejon and Garcia also suffered from internal bleeding. (READ: 2 concert-goers died due to heart attack – Pasay police)

Tierra said, however, that the NBI declined to say who the test results belong to, upon the request of the families.

The NBI is looking into reports that the Closeup concert attendees allegedly took “green amore” pills, a cocktail of ecstasy, methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, and cialis, a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. (READ: Music, drugs, and alcohol: Do young Filipinos party to get high?

Not drug overdose

Asked if the synthetic drugs caused internal bleeding as well as the hearts of the victims to turn black, Tierra said:  “Most probably, because there are no other initiating factors. They could have precipitated or triggered the physiological mechanism which resulted to their demise.”

Still, he was quick to point out that the NBI was not saying that the victims died of drug overdose, as what some social media users speculated after the tragic deaths.

“We cannot attest to the angle of overdosing. Our findings include there was detection of the substances, but not the exact percentage,” he said.  

The NBI had arrested 6 drug dealers who allegedly sold illegal substances during the Closeup Forever Summer concert. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.