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MANILA, Philippines – Forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun expressed misgivings on the theory that the cause of death of the 14-year-old student in Antipolo City was the slap from his teacher.
“I think it’s a stretch because in this case, we have a 14-year-old. We’re not talking about a baby. It could be applicable if it were a baby with undeveloped muscles and bones, and who couldn’t defend themselves,” Fortun said in an interview with One PH’s Ted Failon on Thursday, October 5.
Based on student Francis Jay Gumikib’s death certificate, he died due to acute intraparenchymal hemorrhage or brain hemorrhage.
Fortun emphasized that the cause of death is unclear. She pointed out that the death certificate did not specify the underlying cause, which is crucial in determining what led to the hemorrhage.
The death certificate indicated that “suspected presumptive pulmonary tuberculosis” and “child physical abuse” played significant roles in contributing to Gumikib’s death.
Fortun, however, said it is unclear how these conditions are related to the main cause of death. She said that if child abuse was a factor, it should be tagged as a manner of death instead.
In a separate interview with CNN Philippines, Fortun said that conducting an autopsy is crucial to provide a more comprehensive and precise report regarding the exact cause of death.
According to Gumikib’s mother, Elena Minggoy, her son was slapped by his teacher on September 20 after he reported his noisy classmates. This incident occurred at Peñafrancia Elementary School in Antipolo City.
Gumikib subsequently complained of ear pain and dizziness but continued attending school until September 26 when he was rushed to Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, a tertiary government hospital.
Gumikib fell into a coma and, on October 2, nearly a week after being hospitalized, he passed away.
“If there is bleeding in the brain cells, and you try to connect that to the act of slapping, it’s a bit difficult because, looking at the circumstances, he was hospitalized 5 days after the alleged incident,” Fortun said.
In examining the incident, Fortun said the slap’s force and speed should also be taken into account.
Following Gumikib’s death, the Philippine National Police Forensic Laboratory conducted an autopsy.
No to child violence
On Thursday, Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte reminded teachers that they should not harm their students.
“Let me just remind you, all our teachers, that the children are entrusted to your care,” she said during the National Teacher’s Day event in Butuan City.
“You shouldn’t hurt the children…whether it be physical, sexual, verbal abuse, you don’t do that to children, especially those that are entrusted to your care fully by the community, by their families,” Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Likewise, the Department of Justice (DOJ) “reminded teachers and educators that they “hold a position of trust and responsibility in a child’s life.”
The DOJ said that corporal punishment is prohibited, and teachers engaging in such behavior may face administrative and criminal actions.
The DOJ, through the Committee for Children’s Protection, asked the Antipolo City Prosecutor’s Office to collaborate with the police in investigating and collecting evidence related to any crimes associated with Gumikib’s death or mistreatment.