IT is the “death of a hero,” said lawyer Asis Perez, former director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), regarding the demise of a BFAR regulatory officer during a rescue operation in Tuguegarao City, Cagayan.
“With much sorrow, I learned of the demise of a former comrade, Henry Kelly Villarao, Fisheries Regulatory Officer 1, during the rescue operation by the BFAR-Quick Response Team (BFAR-QRT) in Tuguegarao City,” Perez posted on Facebook.
He said Villarao and his team braved going upstream against the floodwater from Aparri town to Tuguegarao City on a three-hour trip to participate in the critical rescue operation.
On Friday night, Villarao lost his life, saving some residents of Tuguegarao City with his BFAR-QRT team, particularly in flooded Barangay Linao.
Reports said he unknowingly went too close to an exposed power line and was electrocuted.
Perez described Villarao and the BFAR-QRT members as strong swimmers, trained in scuba operations and well-equipped for the job.
“But after saving lives the whole day, [he] tripped a live [electrical] wire on their final rescue attempt, where he was killed instantly,” he said.
“Henry Kelly offered the ultimate price in the fulfillment of the difficult but proud tradition of the BFAR-QRT,” Perez added.
Villarao is survived by his wife Melanie Villarao, BFAR-Region 2 National Stock Assessment Program project leader, and his son, a five-month-old baby boy.
He was also the company commander of Class Maalab of the BFAR Law Enforcement Training Program.