PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines – Dr. Jose Antonio Socrates, a multi-awarded a leader of the anti-corruption and environmental campaign in Palawan, was found dead Sunday afternoon at a public beach, in an apparent case of drowning.
Police were still investigating the incident, but the 64-year-old orthopedic surgeon and environmental activist appeared to have died while swimming.
Senior Supt. Abad Osit, city police chief, cited initial investigation reports which showed that there was “no external injury” found on the body.
Socrates, a rural doctor and recipient of several local and international awards, including the 2007 Sasakawa Health prize for his pioneering work on rural medicine, was also a vocal anti-corruption activist.
At the time of his death, Socrates was the main complainant in a corruption case lodged against public works officials, who implemented infrastructure projects funded by Palawan’s share from the Malampaya natural gas royalty.
Cesar Ventura, former provincial budget officer and head of the group called Kilusang Love Malampaya, was saddened by Socrates’ death and vowed to continue their group’s advocacies despite the loss of their main stalwarts including broadcaster Dr. Gerry Ortega who was murdered in 2011.
Osit said Socrates was last seen early morning Sunday as he was preparing to take a swim on BM Beach located at the outskirts of the city proper. His body was found floating late in the afternoon by local fishers who alerted the police