By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
The tragic sea incident involving three motor boats plying the Iloilo-Guimaras route on Saturday was one of the greatest tragedies recorded in the sailing history of the province, according to Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin.
Since the incident happened, Gumarin said the biggest challenge is how to cope with and rise from the tragedy.
“Actually, masakit sa amin and mahirap but we need to stand up sa mga tulong ng iba’t ibang sector sa tulong ng mga Guimarasnon at support ng mga public officials and the national government,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.
According to Gumarin, the province has been totally dependent on Iloilo City for employment and provisions.
He said 70 to 90 percent of the food needs of residents are from the city.
“Totally dependent kami sa Iloilo so lahat ng kinakain namin, yung mga ginagamit namin dito, almost 70 to 90 percent from Iloilo,” he said.
Motor boat trips from Iloilo-Guimaras have been suspended since the incident happened and hundreds of passengers are stranded in ports.
Roll on-Roll off (RORO) vessels provided by the national government have been ferrying the passengers to and from Iloilo City since Sunday but these are not enough to accommodate all travelers.
“Sa ngayon, ramdam namin ang epekto ng isolation sa Iloilo, bumaba na yung purchasing power ng Guimarasnon. Affected din ang aming transport sector especially yung mga sailors,” Gumarin lamented.
Gumarin said he hopes that the national government will help them realize their dream of having one or two RORO vessels.
“It is our prayer nga tani mabuligan kami sang national government nga may ara kami RORO. Duha ka bilog stationed sa probinsya sang Iloilo nga magamit sang Western Visayas kun kinahanglanon,” he said.
The governor said they are also hoping that Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade will open another big wharf in Buenavista town.
“Ang amon ginapangayo, especially kay Secretary Tugade, nga i-open ang isa namon ka major wharf sa banwa sang Buenavista for the fast craft nga dira kuhaon kay basi indi kasarang ang aton ports,” he said.
The proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project, which is still under feasibility study would be a great help, however it would take a lot of time, according to Gumarin.
“It is under the authority and power of the President, but it will take time, subong ya ang importante ma-normalize ang ekonomiya, ma-transport namon ang mga tawo sa pihak. Ang mga kinahanglanon nga pagkaon should be made available sa pumuluyo,” he said.
Two separate capsizing incidents involving three motorboats – Chi-Chi, Jenny Vince, and Keziah 2 – on Saturday left 31 people dead. Ten of the casualties were from the province of Guimaras.