Philippine Coast Guard recovers rammed fishing boat

Ghio Ong - The Philippine Star
Philippine Coast Guard recovers rammed fishing boat
The agency tapped private provider Harbor Star to take charge of towing and salvaging the boat, which was hit on its right side by the oil tanker MT Pacific Anna.
Philippine Coast Guard / Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — The ill-fated Filipino fishing boat that was rammed by an oil tanker will be towed back to shore, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

PCG spokesman Rear Admiral Armand Balilo shared with media a photo of the overturned FFB Dearyn still floating at sea yesterday. He did not mention the location where the photo was taken.

The agency tapped private provider Harbor Star to take charge of towing and salvaging the boat, which was hit on its right side by the oil tanker MT Pacific Anna.

Balilo noted the family who owns the fishing boat asked that the boat be retrieved to be repaired and used again.

He said the PCG has written to the government of Marshall Islands, where Pacific Anna is reportedly registered, to “conduct their investigation on the reported collision incident.”

“We expect with this formal request the Flag State of Marshall Islands will conduct safety investigation in compliance with the IMO’s Casualty Investigation Code Chapter 6 that the state of ship involved in a very serious maritime casualty is responsible for ensuring that a marine safety investigation be conducted and completed,” he said, referring to the International Maritime Organization.

The result of the proposed probe by Marshall Islands could be used to pursue “claims and damages for the boat owner, victims and survivors of FFB Dearyn,” Balilo said.

He added the PCG has also sent personnel to coordinate with authorities in Singapore where the oil tanker would head from its origin in Incheon, South Korea.

Assistance for families

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has provided financial assistance to families of three fishermen who died when a foreign crude oil tanker rammed their fishing boat last Monday.

BFAR national director Demosthenes Escoto said P20,000 cash assistance and food packages were handed to each bereaved family during his visit to the wake of the three fishermen – Benidecto Olandria, Dexter Laudencia and Romeo Mejico Jr. – on Thursday night in Calapandayan, Subic, Zambales.

Escoto said BFAR will also provide a scholarship for their children’s college education in fisheries at any state college or university where they are qualified for admission. “This covers tuition, monthly stipend and thesis allowance until they finish the program. Scholars will also be prioritized by the DA-BFAR for employment,” the BFAR said.

Meanwhile, BFAR said the 11 other survivors of the maritime incident each received P2,000 cash aid and food packs from the bureau.

In addition, the agency under the Department of Agriculture has committed to assist in repairing the damaged vessel. “The Bureau will also provide a brand-new 62-footer fiberglass reinforced plastic fishing boat to the Subic Commercial Operators Fishing Association Inc. to further equip them in fishing,” it said. The award was received by the association’s vice president Delma Morados.

Moreover, Escoto told the families that additional livelihood packages such as post-harvest training and equipment will be given to them through the bureau’s regional office in Central Luzon, headed by director Wilfredo Cruz.

“President Marcos already talked to our regional director in Region 3 and it is possible that we will provide a bigger boat. They (fishers) just need to organize again. We will also provide fishing paraphernalia and fishing gears,” BFAR spokesman Nazario Briguera said.

Senate probe pushed

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa is pushing for a Senate investigation on the boat collision incident to determine who is responsible and come up with measures to prevent a similar tragedy.

“It’s a very unfortunate incident since you know fishermen went there for a living but they ended up dying. It has to be investigated thoroughly by our authorities,” Dela Rosa said.

“Let’s file (a resolution) to investigate who is really responsible. That’s right, it’s inevitable that people will doubt that maybe the ship was registered to another entity and then some dirty mind might think that (the collision) has been used purposefully... because they already have a grudge against our fishermen, right? It can happen. As an investigator, you have to look at all possible angles,” he noted.

When asked if the owner will be invited when the Senate probe pushes through, Dela Rosa said the senators will have to exhaust all available legal remedies to shed light on the incident.

Sen. Francis Tolentino expressed support for the plans of Dela Rosa to investigate the sea collision. Since Congress is on recess, Tolentino said the Senate will conduct the probe when it resumes session on Nov. 6. — Bella Cariaso, Catherine Talavera, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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