An elderly priest of the Philippine Independent Church, or the Aglipayan Church, died on Monday, January 11, after he was hit by a falling coconut tree during a post-typhoon roadside clearing operation in the town of Matalom, Leyte province.
Police identified the victim as Father Rizacion Ybañez, 63, a resident of Sta. Fe village in Matalom town, said a Philippine News Agency report.
The victim was driving a motorcycle when asked to stop for a few minutes because someone was cutting a coconut tree that was damaged by super typhoon Odette.
“All vehicles were flagged down by personnel involved in clearing operations, but when Ybañez noticed that two motorcycle riders insisted to pass by, he followed them, but unfortunately, he failed to escape from the falling tree,” said police investigator Staff Sgt. David Santiago.
The priest was heading to one of the villages in Matalom town to distribute relief goods to fellow church members, said the report.
Three weeks after the typhoon, roadside clearing operations are still ongoing in typhoon-ravaged communities in Leyte and Southern Leyte provinces.