French bus driver dies after attack over mask-wearing rules

Veronique Monguillot, wife of Philippe Monguillot, a bus driver who was attacked in Bayonne on Sunday night, holds a photo of her with her husband, during a protest march in Bayonne, southwestern France, Wednesday, July 8, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 11 July 2020

French bus driver dies after attack over mask-wearing rules

  • Two men have been charged with attempted murder over the attack
  • The two charged with attempted murder are aged 22 and 23 and were previously known to police

BAYONNE: A French bus driver who was badly beaten by passengers after asking them to wear face masks in line with coronavirus rules has died, his family said, sparking tributes from political leaders who condemned his “cowardly” attackers.
Philippe Monguillot, 59, was left brain dead by the attack in the southwestern town of Bayonne last weekend and died in hospital on Friday, his daughter Marie said, after his family decided to switch off his life-support system.
“We decided to let him go. The doctors were in favor and we were as well,” she told AFP.
Two men have been charged with attempted murder over the attack and prosecutor Jerome Bourrier told AFP that he would ask for the charges to be upgraded following Monguillot’s death.
France’s prime minister Jean Castex led tributes to Monguillot.
“The Republic recognizes him as an exemplary citizen and will not forget him. The law will punish the perpetrators of this despicable crime,” he tweeted, describing the attack as “cowardly.”
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who was due to meet some of Bayonne’s bus drivers on Saturday and discuss the security situation, labelled it an “abhorrent act.”
“The coward responsible must not go unpunished,” he added.
Monguillot’s family had organized a silent march in his honor on Wednesday, departing from the bus stop where the assault took place.
His colleagues refused to work after the attack but will resume work on Monday under stepped-up security arrangements, the local operator Keolis said.
This will include security agents being deployed on the long buses that operate in Bayonne and its surrounding area.
Three other people have been charged in connection with the attack, two for failing to assist a person in danger and another for attempting to hide a suspect, the prosecutor’s office said.
The two charged with attempted murder are aged 22 and 23 and were previously known to police.


Philippines to charter flight to bring home citizens from Lebanon

Updated 08 August 2020

Philippines to charter flight to bring home citizens from Lebanon

  • Remains of four who died in Tuesday’s massive blast in Beirut also to be repatriated

MANILA: The Philippines will soon be sending a chartered flight to Lebanon to bring back Filipinos impacted by a massive explosion at the port of Beirut as early as next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Saturday.

“The DFA is paying P15,000,000 ($305,643) from its funds for a chartered Qatar Air flight to repatriate from Beirut. The Philippine Embassy in Beirut is negotiating it and disbursing the amount. Aug. 16 is [the date set for] arrival,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said, adding that the flight will also bring home the remains of four Filipinos who died in Tuesday’s blast.

Around 400 Filipinos from Lebanon are expected to return following the catastrophic explosion, which decimated the Lebanese capital.

On Friday, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Sarah Lou Arriola said that President Rodrigo Duterte was responding to the “clamor of Filipinos in Lebanon” and that the “chartered flight is the most concrete, immediate and timely assistance” that the DFA could provide given the current situation there.

Reports state that the deadly explosion was caused by a cargo of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, stored at a warehouse in the port of Beirut for years. 

The odorless chemical is commonly used as an agricultural fertilizer but is also used to make powerful bombs.

“With ground operations clearing more area and embassy personnel receiving additional reports, the department is taking in new inputs with regard to the status of the Filipino community in the country,” the DFA said in a statement. 

Data released by the DFA placed the number of Filipinos impacted at 48, with 42 wounded, four dead, and two missing.

“By day’s end yesterday, the number of injured oversees Filipino workers stands at 42, an increase of 11 from the previous report,” Arriola said.

Two of the wounded remained in critical condition and were being monitored at the Rizk Hospital.

“We were also alerted that another Filipino was reported missing, increasing the number to two. The number of Filipino fatalities, meanwhile, remains at four,” she added.

The DFA said that, earlier, it had expected the number of affected Filipinos to increase considering the magnitude of the Beirut destruction.

Even before the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the DFA had begun its repatriation activities from Lebanon to limit the worsening condition of Filipinos in the country due to economic woes. It has repatriated at least 1,508 Filipinos from Lebanon since December 2019.