PNP: 72 dead from drowning during Semana break

Evelyn Macairan, Ralph Edwin Villanueva - The Philippine Star
PNP: 72 dead from drowning during Semana break
At a press briefing, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said five individuals were injured and six were missing.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — A total of 72 people including 23 minors and three senior citizens died from drowning during the Holy Week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported yesterday.

At a press briefing, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said five individuals were injured and six were missing.

Most of the drowning incidents were recorded in Region 4-A or the Calabarzon with 19 fatalities, followed by Region 1 with 14 and Region 3 with 10.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), meanwhile, recorded 28 drowning incidents and 32 “nearly drowned” incidents during the period. It was not clear if the PCG data have been reconciled with the PNP’s.

Data provided by the PCG showed that out of the 15 Coast Guard districts, only five districts – Southwestern Mindanao, Palawan, Southeastern Mindanao, Northeastern Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao – have no reports of drowning or near drowning incidents.

The most number of reported incidents was in the PCG’s Bicol District with 11 incidents of “drowned” and 15 incidents of “nearly drowned.”

The other drowning incidents reportedly took place in Southern Tagalog and Northern Mindanao each with one fatality; Northwestern Luzon with seven incidents and Northeastern Luzon with eight incidents.

Eight incidents of nearly drowned took place in Northwestern Luzon, two each in Eastern Visayas and Northeast Luzon and one each in National Capital Region-Central Luzon, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Southern Mindanao.

The PCG also reported rescuing 13 local tourists whose motorized boat capsized in Romblon near Bonbon Beach on Black Saturday.

Based on an incident report, the 13 tourists were island hopping when they encountered strong waves that caused their boat to overturn some 100 meters from the shoreline.

Coast Guard Seaman First Class Kester Brylle Madali swam toward the boat and rescued the tourists while PCG apprentice seaman Francis Hedwig Salvador called the nearby beach patrol team and station operation for additional reinforcement.

In Matnog, Sorsogon, PCG personnel led by Petty Officer 2 Cirilo Molina Jr. rescued 11 passengers of a boat that capsized last Sunday.

One passenger, a 62-year-old man, died in hospital. The PCG has not released the identity of the lone fatality.

In a separate statement, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. called on parents to watch over their children when they go swimming or on any family outing.

“To all parents, please do not leave your children unattended and avoid drinking liquor while swimming to avoid cases of drowning,” Azurin said in the statement.

He said the PNP also recorded 11 vehicular accidents during the Holy Week, resulting in four deaths.

But he said the Holy Week celebration for this year was generally peaceful and orderly.

He said greater police visibility as well as cooperation from civilians resulted in the peaceful observance of the Lenten season.

The PNP’s strict implementation of Oplan Ligtas Sumvac 2023 also explained the peaceful observance of Holy Week, Azurin added.

“Deployment of personnel will focus now on bus terminals, seaports and airports as activities and movement of the traveling public will be more in these areas,” he added.

The PNP also reported a decrease in incidents of major crimes from Jan. 1 to April 8 of this year, as against last year’s figures.

There were 9,345 incidents of criminal activities this year, compared to 10,954 last year, or a decrease of 14.69 percent.

Meanwhile, the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) said its operations during Holy Week were “generally OK,” as there were no untoward incidents recorded.

PITX corporate affairs and government relations head Jason Salvador told The STAR they were able to prepare well for the Holy Week.

“Generally, it was OK. We were able to prepare adequately for the long holiday and with the help of our friends from the government… plus non-government organizations like the Red Cross, we were able to successfully serve the needs of the commuting public without any major glitch,” Salvador said. “Coordination and early preparation was the key,” he added.

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