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NYPM 001-2008

14 MARCH 2008



NEW YORK—The widow of an Army officer who died last year while serving as a United Nations peacekeeper in Sudan has sought the assistance of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in finding answers to her husband's death.

In a letter coursed through Ambassador Hilario G. Davide Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Immaculate S. Batalla, widow of Lt. Col. Renerio Batalla, said: "It has been four months since my husband left us but many questions remained unanswered on the circumstances surrounding his death."

Batalla, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1990, died supposedly of malaria on 23 October 2007 in the regional capital of Rembek a day after his 41st birthday and a few weeks before he was supposed to end his year-long service in Sudan.

"Help me and my family find closure on Renerio's death," she asked the Secretary General in her letter dated 10 March 2008. "Please convince us that his death that was not for naught."

Mrs. Batalla's letter to the Secretary General was prompted by reports that her husband died because he did not receive proper medical attention after he was diagnosed with malaria.

"I believe that my husband's demise could have been avoided if only he received proper and immediate medical care," she said. "I could not understand why a very reputable organization like the United Nations, with all its resource was not able to save the life of someone it has sent to help save others by bringing peace to their troubled land."

 "My country sent him to Sudan to serve under the United Nations to help make a difference in the lives of others. There are many more like him from the Philippines and other countries who are serving in other areas of conflict around the world."

"If there is something I would like to come out of his death, it would be that we draw some lessons from it, so that those who would follow, would not have to go through what he had to endure," she said.

On Monday, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations sent a diplomatic note to the Secretary General reiterating Manila's request for the official investigation report and other documents on the circumstances surrounding Batalla's death.

Ambassador Davide also raised concerns over Batalla's death in the statement he delivered before the 2008 Substantive Session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations on Monday.###



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