BLACK SATURDAY: Death toll in Iloilo Strait tragedy swells

TWO of the 11 casualties that were trapped inside the ill-fated M/B Jenny Vince are brought ashore at Naluoyan Port in Dumangas, Iloilo morning of Aug 4, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Dumangas PNP)

By: Jennifer P. Rendon and Emme Rose Santiagudo

MORE than 20 persons perished after three pump boats capsized in the Iloilo Strait afternoon of Aug 3, 2019.

Records from the Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRMMO) as of 1 p.m. of Aug 4 indicated 25 casualties and 53 survivors.

A total of 87 passengers were onboard the ill-fated Motor Bancas Keziah, Chi-Chi, and Jenny Vince but only 75 were listed on the manifestos.

Iloilo City DRMMO chief Donna Magno said nine individuals remain missing as of 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Guimaras provincial government information office posted different figures.

As of 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Guimaras authorities tallied 86 passengers onboard the three pump boats (75 in manifesto and 11 not listed), 53 survivors, 27 casualties, and 6 still missing.

The second sea mishap involving Jenny Vince that happened 3:45 p.m. of Aug 3 recorded the most number of casualties.

Keziah and Chi-Chi were bound for Jordan from Iloilo City while Jenny Vince was ferrying passengers from Buenavista, Guimaras to Iloilo when the mishaps occurred.

At around 6 a.m. Sunday, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel stationed near the Naluoyan Port in Dumangas, Iloilo spotted what appeared to be an outrigger of a banca.

With the use of a telescope, they confirmed it to be a part of one of the ill-fated pump boats. They responded to the area and confirmed that it was the capsized MB Jenny Vince.

The team retrieved 10 bodies underneath the motor banca. Another body was fished out of the sea near Dumangas town.

Five of the 11 victims were still wearing life jackets.

Medics noted that the casualties suffered contusions and hematoma on their heads and other parts of their bodies.

The bodies were brought to Dumangas District Hospital where they were medically-processed for identification of their relatives.

Iloilo City Major Jerry Treñas earlier confirmed that 11 passengers were killed in an earlier incident involving two passenger boats – MB Keziah 2 and MB Chi-Chi – at around 12:15 p.m. Saturday.

Lt. Commander Joe Luviz Mercurio, Coast Guard District – Western Visayas (CGDWV) chief of staff, said initial investigation showed that two pump boats collided following a squall, or what is locally known as pugada.

One of the pump boats had 43 passengers and four crew members while the other has 4 crew members. There were two others who added to the number of victims but they remain unidentified.

Despite the collision of Keziah and Chi-Chi, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) allowed the resumption of sea travel between Iloilo City and Guimaras.

More than three hours later, MB Jenny Vince also capsized.

Of the 14 confirmed deaths from MB Jenny Vince, three were brought to Iloilo City hospitals.



Based on records, most of the fatalities in the twin sea tragedies were not natives of Guimaras Island.

In the first incident, some of the victims were from Mandurriao, Iloilo City who went with family members to witness an event to be held in Guimaras.

The second incident involving MB Jenny Vince ferried mostly visitors and students.

Such was the case of Maria Nieves Grandiza, who survived the incident that claimed the lives of her 3-year-old son Arnie Baguio and her fiancé, Romeo Baguio and her seven in-laws.

Grandiza, who hails from Guimaras province, visited her family along with several relatives of Romeo to ask her hand for marriage or the traditional pamalaye. They were scheduled to return to Cebu on Sunday.

Of the 10 members of the Baguio family, three were confirmed dead while five are still missing,

Another group of 10 visitors were also passengers of the ill-fated MB Jenny Vince.

Patrick Perales, 37, of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, visited his wife’s friend in Buenavista, Guimaras. His wife, 37-Eden Perales, just arrived from Abu Dhabi, UAE where she worked as a teacher.

Eden did not survive, along with their two companions who hailed from other provinces.

Patrick said they had long planned for the trip when his wife was still abroad. They visited Iloilo and even went to Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan before going to Guimaras.

They were planning to cross to Negros Island before the incident happened.

“We were also planning to even tour Mindanao before this,” Patrick said.

Four other victims are teachers from Iloilo province who were taking up their master’s degree at the Guimaras State University – Ivy Grace Labordo, Emilie Legarda, Zenie Anilao, and Lynlyn Janolino.

George Buenavista was applying to become principal of Agcuyawan Kalsada Elementary School in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo when he met his end in the tragic incident.

Buenavista, a bachelor who taught math, also sent his nephews and nieces to school.



Search and rescue operations are still being conducted to locate other missing passengers.

“We’re still hoping against hope that we could find survivors,” Mercurio said, when asked if they would shift to search and retrieval operations.

Mercurio said they could not ascertain until when they with continue with their operations.

“We’re hoping to account all victims before calling off our operations.”

All motor bancas sailing the Iloilo -Guimaras routes have been cancelled on Sunday.

“The weather is not good and we deemed there would still be possible squall incidents in Iloilo Strait,” Mercurio said.

PCG authorities, however, allowed Roll on-Roll off vessels operated by FF Cruz Corp. to ferry stranded passengers.

Military vehicles also transported stranded passengers from Parola Wharf to Lapuz Port.



Meanwhile, Civil Defense Regional Director Jose Roberto Nuñez said that they are still waiting for an investigation by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on why motor boats were authorized to sail despite the inclement weather and the aftermath of the first incident.

Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin said that they will be studying the possible changes on the policies and protocols of the sailors as well as the implementation of policies of local government units and other government agencies.

“We have observed a lot of things that need to be changed especially for our sailors and local government units especially on the sea-worthiness of our motor boats,” he said.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said they will be calling for a meeting with the City Council, OCD, PCG and the provincial government.

He emphasized that there is no one to blame, stressing that authorities should now focus on how to improve the protocols and avoid such incidents from happening.

“There is no one to blame, we are not pointing the finger to anyone, we do not want to blame anyone, we just want to improve the protocols that will be observed here so that we can prevent incidents like these,” Treñas said.

Two years ago, a motor boat also capsized due to heavy winds and rains leaving eight people dead.