Thirteen face charges over Manilla festival deaths

March 2017

Live events sector


Thirteen people are facing criminal charges over the deaths of five people at last May’s Closeup Forever Summer festival in Manilla in the Philippines.
During the event was ongoing, five people were found unconscious in separate locations on the concert grounds on the 22nd May 2016. They were Ariel Leal (22), Lance Garcia (36), Ken Migawa (18), Bianca Fontejon (18) and Eric Anthony Miller (33 and an American citizen). The victims had all collapsed at the festival and died later in hospital, and local reports said that they had ingested a cocktail of alcohol and drugs – erports said the five had taken ‘green amore’, a potentially lethal mix of MDMA and shabu, or methamphetamine.
Following an eight-month investigation, the Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation (NIB) has asked for negligent homicide charges to be brought against 13 executives of promoter Closeup, its parent company, Unilever Philippines, and several security companies. The charges will alleges the defendants “had the ability to prevent the unwanted incidents but failed to do so”. The NBI complaint, filed with the Department of Justice, says the companies – Unilever, Closeup, Activations Advertising, Hypehouse Production Corp. and Delirium Manpower Services – should have put in place more effective measures to prevent drugs entering the festival site and says: “Yet given all their occupational and professional standing, expertise, skill and experience […] they apathetically forgot the inclusion of illegal drugs or its possible inroads during the event”.
Closeup spokesman Ed Sunico said in a statement: “Our management team is deeply saddened by the events that took place at the Forever Summer music festival last year. We acted in good faith in the staging of the event and will continue to cooperate in all the upcoming proceedings.”
On the morning of 28 May 2016, the NBI in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) arrested 23-year-old Joshua Habalo. According to Senior Investigator Salvador Arteche, Jr., Habalo offered undercover NBI operatives five tablets of pink ecstacy worth ₱1,500 before the operatives seized the tablets, in addition to five sachets of suspected cocaine and another sachet of three green capsules suspected to be the “green amore”, the designer drug believed to have been sold at the concert which the five victims may have taken

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