Police Colonel Eric Dampal (center), director of the Iloilo City Police Office, urges Police Corporal Joseph Andrew Joven, suspect in two murder cases, to surface and defend himself in court. Joven has not reported to the city police office since March after failing to undergo a drug test. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN “It was the Britanico family’s choice to go to the NBI. We helped the NBI,” said Dampal who was appointed ICPO on Feb. 20, a month after the Britanico-Muller killings. “Hence, after inflicting several fatal wounds at Britanico, they took his mobile phone,” the NBI surmised./PN ILOILO City – Where is Police Corporal Joseph Andrew Joven, one of the two policemen charged in the killing of a son of former assemblyman Salvador “Buddy” Britanico and a call center agent? “Much better siguro na mag-surface s’ya. Harapin n’ya ang kaso n’ya para madepensahan n’ya ang sarili n’ya,” said Police Colonel Eric Dampal, director of the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO). Joven had been AWOL (absent without official leave) from the ICPO since March 12. Britanico spotted the men while on his way home to Prime Estate Subdivision in Barangay Nabitasan. He was eventually charged administratively for grave neglect of duty (failure to report for duty) and less grave neglect of duty (failure to undergo mandatory drug test). Charged with Joven for murder and theft for the Britanico-Muller slays were Police Corporal Jerry Villanueva assigned at the Regional Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) and two other unidentified persons. “Joven admitted (to the car rental owner) he was the driver of the group. Further, (he) said that after killing Muller, they stopped at a vacant lot in (Barangay) Nabitasan, La Paz to strip off the white stickers from the Adventure. Britanico saw and confronted them so they shot Britanico to death,” read part of the NBI statement announcing its findings and the eventual filing of charges. Joven had not reported to the ICPO after failing to undergo a drug test that Dampal ordered for all city policemen in March. The NBI conducted its own investigation on the killings upon the order of President Rodrigo Duterte whose help was sought by former assemblyman Britanico. Its probe took some four months. According to Distor, the car rental owner told the NBI that Joven confessed to him that “the Adventure was used by his group as getaway vehicle in killing Muller and Britanico.” The ICPO, on the other hand, remained vague as to the status of its own investigation. The ICPO under Defensor had a poor track record in solving crimes, particularly shootings. Dampal said the ICPO respects the NBI’s filing of charges against Joven and the three others. In a press conference yesterday, Dampal said policemen would be hunting Joven down once a warrant for the suspect’s arrest has been issued. According to NBI officer-in-charge Eric Distor, the same vehicle – a Mitsubishi Adventure was seen in both killings, and that witnesses further saw one of the suspects taking something from Britanico. Thesuccessivekillings – just minutes apart – of Muller first then Britanico were initially thought as separate incidents. The NBI, however, discovered they were related by circumstance. “Gagawin natin ang lahat para maging mabuti ang ang ating pamamahala sa ICPO. I have to study all unsolved cases,” said Dampal on Feb. 20 when he formally assumed the city police’s directorship. The NBI traced the vehicle to the PAPO Car Rental and determined that it was Joven who rented it for two days or until Jan. 20, 2020. Dampal was a former director of the Compostela Valley Police Provincial Office. He also had a stint at the Police Regional Office 11 or Davao Region. According to the NBI, Britanico’s wife described her husband as having a “temper for traffic violators and does not hesitate to take photographs or videos of such and post them on social media.” Villanueva is now under restrictive custody at the PRO-6. Taking this into consideration, according to the investigators, the suspects may have assumed that Britanico reported their activities to the authorities when he made a call or took photos or videos of them. He was charged on May 29 with murder and theft by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the Jan. 19, 2020 fatal shooting of 36-year-old businessman Delfin Britanico of La Paz district and 42-year-old call center agent and drug surrenderer Alain Muller of Jaro district. The city police director at the time of the killings was Police Colonel Martin Defensor, now reassigned to the PRO-6.
Findings from three studies conducted by the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL) were presented on Tuesday evening at a special session on Ebola during the 2016 Annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston, Massachusetts, USA Feb. 22-25.Initial results from PREVAIL I, a pioneering placebo-controlled clinical trial of two candidate Ebola vaccines launched in Monrovia in Feb. 2015, indicate that both vaccines stimulate a good immune response in the early weeks after vaccination and are well tolerated, even among people infected with HIV.The study also found that a number of participants had evidence of a past Ebola virus infection, although none reported being aware of having been infected or of being sick. These and other findings from PREVAIL I, were presented by co-principal investigators on the study, Fatorma Bolay, Ph.D., Director of the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research (LIBR). PREVAIL I was initially designed as a Phase 2/3 randomized, placebo-controlled trial that would enroll approximately 28,000 people at risk of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Liberia to evaluate whether two experimental Ebola vaccines—ChAd3-EBO-Z (GlaxoSmithKline) and VSV-ZEBOV (Merck)—could prevent Ebola virus disease. However, by March 2015, successful Ebola control efforts had greatly reduced the population at risk of Ebola in Liberia, so the study was scaled back to a Phase 2 trial comparing the safety and immune responses of the two experimental vaccines to placebo. The site chosen for PREVAIL I was the Redemption Hospital, located near the epicenter of the outbreak in Monrovia. From Feb. 2 to April 30, 2015, 1,500 volunteers age (18 years or older) without fever or history of Ebola virus disease joined the study. The participants were assigned by chance to receive a single injection of either a saltwater placebo or one of the experimental vaccines. The study excluded women who were pregnant or breastfeeding, but otherwise, men and women with a variety of health conditions, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis, were welcome to enroll. PREVAIL I deliberately cast a wide net in order to determine how safe and immunogenic the vaccines are in a range of adults who represent Liberia’s general population. The median age of participants was 30 years old, and 37 percent were women.Among all participants, initial blood screening tests revealed that 6.3 percent had evidence of a past Ebola virus infection—that is, they had Ebola antibodies—although none reported having been sick. This surprising finding has potentially important public health implications. “We hope to better understand the implications of this finding as we learn much more about Ebola survivors and their close contacts during the ongoing, long-term study known as PREVAIL III,” noted Dr. Bolay.The findings said excluding individuals with pre-existing antibodies to Ebola in their analysis, the study team found that 87 percent of those given the ChAd3-EBOV-Z vaccine and 94 percent of the VSV-ZEBOV recipients had measurable anti-Ebola antibodies one month after vaccination. “The antibody responses measured at 6 and 12 months after vaccination, which will provide important information about how long these immune responses last, are still being collected for analysis,” it said.The PREVAIL team also screened the study volunteers for HIV and syphilis. The frequency of each in the study population was found to be about 5 percent. This rate of HIV infection is considerably higher than what has previously been reported for Liberia as a whole (1.9 percent in the general population). However, the study team found that being infected with HIV had at best only a modest effect on the immune responses produced to either one of the vaccines.The participants were asked to return to Redemption Hospital for follow-up visits at week 1, months 1 and 2, and then every 2 months thereafter for 12 months. Approximately 20 percent came in for a special visit at week 2 to be evaluated for any joint problems. Overall, the vaccines were well tolerated, and no significant differences in reported side effects were found between those who received either of the vaccines or the placebo. Among its successes, the trial achieved a near perfect—98.6 percent—record of attendance at follow-up visits, an unusually high rate for a clinical study conducted anywhere, noted H. Clifford Lane, M.D., Deputy Director for Clinical Research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the lead U.S. scientist on the study. NIAID/NIH and the Liberian Ministry of Health are co-sponsoring the study.According to Stephen B. Kennedy, M.D., MPH, co-principal investigator on the study and coordinator for Ebola research at the Incident Management System (IMS) in Liberia, “PREVAIL I demonstrates the feasibility of conducting a well-designed, randomized, placebo-controlled vaccine trial during an infectious disease outbreak. Our success can be attributed to the efforts of many dedicated individuals on the PREVAIL team as well as our in-country partners. Of special note, the vigorous program of social mobilization and advocacy carried out by trained community members had played a critical role in overcoming public misconceptions about the study, recruiting trial volunteers, and maintaining the excellent rates of follow-up in this study.”In January 2016, PREVAIL I began graduating the first volunteers. More than 600 have now completed their year-long commitment. All follow-up visits are expected to be completed in April 2016.A first look at results from PREVAIL II – the only clinical trial evaluating whether the experimental Ebola therapy known as ZMapp is safe and effective—reveals that the treatment is well tolerated and suggests it may hold some promise as an Ebola treatment. However, the study could not enroll enough patients to prove that ZMapp offers significantly more healing benefits than supportive care alone. ZMapp, made by Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (San Diego, California), is a mixture of three different anti-Ebola antibodies. Antibodies are infection-fighting proteins produced by the body that attach to the surface of the Ebola virus and thereby prevent it from damaging cells.The randomized, controlled study was designed to enroll up to 200 patients of any age with confirmed Ebola virus infection. During 10 months beginning on March 13, 2015, 72 patients joined the study. On January 29, 2016, the trial leaders closed the study because no more Ebola cases were expected. The 72 participants included 54 from seven clinical sites in Sierra Leone, 12 from one site in Guinea, 5 from two sites in Liberia, and 1 from the United States. Their median age was 24 years; slightly more than half were women.Each patient was assigned by chance to one of two study groups. One group received the best standard of supportive care for treating Ebola infection available at their treatment site. This included giving intravenous fluids; balancing electrolytes, minerals needed to regulate body functions; maintaining healthy oxygen and blood pressure levels; and treating other infections if they occurred. The second group received the best standard of care available at the site plus three separate infusions of ZMapp spaced three days apart and completed over 7 days. The amount of ZMapp in the infusion was determined by the patient’s weight.To assess how well ZMapp worked against Ebola, the PREVAIL team compared the number of deaths in each group at 28 days after enrollment. In the study, 21 patients died, a mortality rate of almost 30 percent. The standard-of-care group had 13/35 (37 percent) deaths compared with 8/36 (22 percent) deaths in the ZMapp group. (One patient left the study early and was not included in the analysis.) The difference was not statistically significant.How much virus the patient had when first enrolled strongly affected mortality: 53 percent (16/30) of those with high virus levels died versus 12 percent (5/41) of those with lower virus levels. Among patients with high virus levels, 60 percent (9/15) receiving standard-of-care only died versus 47 percent (7/15) of those who also received ZMapp. In the group with lower virus levels, 20 percent (4/20) on standard-of-care only died versus 5 percent (1/21) of those also given ZMapp. On the whole, those with high or lower virus levels who received ZMapp appeared to do better, but the differences were not statistically significant.Side effects occurred with similar frequency in both groups. Fever and low blood pressure were the most common side effects reported with infusions of ZMapp. Antihistamines and fever-reducing agents were often given before infusions to reduce possible side effects.The findings were presented at the meeting in Boston by Richard T. Davey, Jr., M.D., Deputy Clinical Director in the Division of Clinical Research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and co-leader on the trial. “Although the trial needed significantly more patients to answer whether ZMapp plus optimized standard of care is superior to optimized standard of care alone, we collected valuable data on the safety of and patient response to ZMapp,” noted Dr. Davey. “Moreover, we demonstrated that a randomized, controlled, multicenter treatment trial can be designed and successfully implemented in the midst of an outbreak.”The findings said the clinical picture emerging from PREVAIL III shows that survivors and their contacts suffer from many health problems. People in both groups, however, report subjective symptoms more often than are detected by objective tests performed by physicians or physician assistants. Eye complaints, for example, were reported by 60 percent of survivors and more than 58 percent of contacts when they entered the study. Yet only 25 percent of survivors and 14 percent of contacts had abnormal ocular findings on examination.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)