Search for missing fishermen extended

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - July 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The search and retrieval operations for 12 Filipino fishermen and two other individuals who went missing in a sea collision in the waters off Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro is extended until tomorrow, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said yesterday.

It has been over a week since the collision between F/B Liberty 5 and M/V Vienna Wood occurred on June 27, but the search and rescue team has yet to recover the remains of any of the victims.

PCG spokesperson Cmdr. Armand Balilo said that although the search and rescue operations would be terminated, it does not mean that the Coast Guard would completely stop looking for the victims.

Balilo said they would merely downgrade the level of operations.

“We will not completely pull out our assets and personnel once we ‘terminate’ the operation. We will just pull out some assets needed for other operations. Our Coast Guard station in Mamburao and the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group will still be there to continue searching and monitoring,” Balilo said.

Families of the missing fishermen appealed to authorities not to stop the search.

Liberty 5 capsized after colliding with Vienna Wood, a Hong Kong-registered cargo ship.

Vienna Wood was manned by Chinese crewmembers, who reportedly did not help the Filipino fishermen.

The Chinese officers and crewmembers of Vienna Wood are in Batangas, waiting for the outcome of the investigation of the PCG.

Salvage Liberty 5

Meanwhile, fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) urged the PCG to salvage Liberty 5.

In a statement issued yesterday, Pamalakaya said that after a week of aerial, surface and underwater surveillance, the PCG must now “amplify” its seach and retrieval operations for the missing victims.

“By the assumption of the authorities that the missing crewmembers could have gone down with the vessel, it appears that they have yet to look for any trapped bodies inside the vessel,” Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said.

Hicap said the cost of salvaging a capsized ship must be shouldered by the owner of Vienna Wood, noting the operation could be expensive.

He reiterated Pamalakaya’s call for justice for the missing Filipino fishermen and their relatives.

Hicap said the Chinese captain and owner of the cargo ship must be held accountable for “negligence and abandonment.”

He described the incident as “akin to hit-and-run.” Elizabeth Marcelo

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