DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 Nov) – Francis Morales, Executive Director of Balsa Mindanao and secretary-general of the environmental rights group, Panalipdan Southern Mindanao, passed away Wednesday night at 11:21 p.m. at the San Pedro Hospital due to acute lymphocytic leukemia, Balsa Mindanao announced in a statement.
The 63-year old Morales was admitted to the hospital Sunday evening, November 9, shortly upon arrival in Davao City from the day-long travel by van and ferry from Tacloban City, where he attended a conference of disaster survivors on November 6 and 7.
“A dauntless, tireless and selfless activist for people’s disaster response, sustainable agriculture and environmental defense,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said of Morales, fondly called “Tatay” or “Bong.” Morales also served as advocacy officer for Mindanao of the Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura or MASIPAG.
Zarate was with Morales in Tacloban on November 6 and 7 for the “conference/launching of DALUYONG or Surge, the national network of disaster survivors.”
The Tacloban conference was “his last engagement for the people….. Taas-kamaong pagsaludo Tatay Francis !!!.” Zarate posted on his Facebook wall.
Zarate told MindaNews they were roommates in Tacloban and that both of them were coughing. He said they were kidding each other that if they were on a coughing contest, whoever gets to sleep first, wins.
But Zarate said Morales’ cough was worse. And he had chills evening of November 6. “I did not know he had prostate cancer and leukemia. Until that time, I did not see any hint of him trying to give up or even slow down a little in his work and dedication to serve the people. Unassuming, selfless, huwaran and genuine leader of our people,” he said.
Mae Templa, co-convenor of Balsa Mindanao, said Morales was supposed to present the Mindanao disaster survivors’ situationer on November 6 but it was Prof. Kim Gargar who made the presentation instead because Morales was suffering from fever and chills. Templa said he was given medical attention, rested but continued to listen to the reports.
Dr. Jean Lindo, Panalipdan co-chair and co-convenor of No to Coal Davao, told MindaNews that on their way back to Davao City, Morales’ companions phoned her that he was not feeling well.
“I told them to proceed to the hospital,” Lindo said. But Morales did not want to go to the hospital when they arrived here late Sunday afternoon and did not allow his companions to bring him home, she said.
Templa said Morales’ wife, Nena, insisted on bringing him to the hospital where Morales’ sister works.
On her Facebook wall, Lindo wrote: “Farewell Francis Morales, Tatay Francis to many. You lived your life well. You worked tirelessly. There were times I nagged about your health. Thanks for walking me through environment work. It was a different kind of engagement for me. It was like becoming a Jedi, defending the environment and the people. My salute to one of the most consistent mass leaders. I cannot measure up to his courage and consistency in principles.”
In a statement, Balsa Mindanao, expressed its sympathies to his wife, Nena and daughter Raray “and to all those whose lives he had touched through his untiring work for people’s disaster response and rebuilding, sustainable agriculture, and environmental defense.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/ MindaNews)