Inquirer Super

‘We try our best to protect you from this horrid disease, but who will protect us?’ asked the young doctor who died in the Lion Air plane crash

By: the Super staff

When Dr. Israel Bactol, a cardiologist at the Philippine Heart Center, died after battling COVID-19 on March 21, Dr. Cenover Nicandro “Nicko” Bautista mourned with the rest of the country. 

Dr. Bautista, a PLM College of Medicine graduate and a front-liner who works at the Mandaluyong City Medical Center, wrote on Facebook on March 21:


I stand with the medical community in honoring one of our fallen comrade in his battle with COVID-19. He was a frontliner who was fulfilling his line of duty. I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about him and now he lost his life early, simply because a patient and the family did not bother to disclose their travel history.

And because of that 1 lie, 1 has lost his life, while 38 more were quarantined, and a lot more unknown. Just because they thought it was better to lie.

Consider your actions. We try our best to protect you from this horrid disease, but who will protect us? Kindly do your part. Stay at home. Don’t lie to your doctors. Check your privilege.

May your soul rest in peace good doctor. We will continue the fight.


But Dr. Bautista can no longer continue the fight. He was one of eight people who died when the Japan-bound Lionair Flight RPC 5880 burst into flames at NAIA as it was taking off on the evening of March 29. Aboard the plane were a patient, the patient’s companion, the flight crew, a nurse and a flight medic.

“You put up a good fight Doc! Continue to fly to the kingdom of God!” someone replied to Dr. Bautista’s last Facebook post.

Another posted, “Thank you for all your hard work, efforts and sacrifices. The kingdom of Heaven awaits heroes like you.”

Ria Bautista, drummer and lead singer of the band Paramita, paid tribute to Dr. Bautista in a heartbreaking post.

She shared another one of his Facebook posts. In it, he wrote about how he couldn’t wait for the pandemic to be over.

Dr. Bautista, whose sister Nicki is also a front-liner, has been vocal about the country’s battle against COVID-19, speaking up for the health workers who are risking their lives every day as they treat patients infected by the virus.

“Shouldn’t the front-liners, the patients, the people who are exposed on the daily to the virus, get these much needed tests?” he wrote in response to politicians and VIPs getting access to the country’s limited test kits.  “When will we be first? When we start dropping like flies left and right? When there’s only a few left? When? Who will take our place when all of us fall ill…?”

“RIP another fallen hero,” a netizen posted.