City Council to probe Iloilo Strait tragedy

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE Sangguniang Panlungsod of Iloilo City will also conduct its own “inquiry in aid of legislation” on the tragic sea incident in the Iloilo Strait that killed 31 people.

In his privilege speech last week, Councilor Ely Estante said that there are certain lapses in the incident that should be corrected.

“If we are to follow social media posts in the wake of this maritime misfortune, natalupangdan naton nga halos tanan nga basol sa Philippine Coast Guard kung ngaa gintugutan maglayag ang mga baroto ilabi na gid ang Jenny Vince,” he emphasized.

Based on some reports, Estante said that there are some questions particularly with the efforts of the PCG in the conduct of their search and rescue operations.

“The Coast Guard did not even attempt to secure the ill-fated boat and pull it nearer to shore to rescue at least 11 passengers fighting for their lives underneath. Instead, the boat was allowed to drift leaving the passengers to the mercy of the sea where the battered boat with 11  bodies inside the hull was found the next morning near Naluoyan Port in Dumangas, far away from where it sunk,” he added.

While they do not want to put blame on anybody, Estante underscored that there are some lessons that must be learned from the incident.

“We all know that the Iloilo Strait is a beautiful but dangerous body of water. It is a treacherous channel which, over the years, has capsized many boats and claimed countless lives. We need to be prepared, we need to undertake measures so that once and for all, there will be no more similar tragedies in the future,” he said.

The City Council said that the provincial government of Guimaras will be invited for the conduct of the joint inquiry into looking at the Iloilo Strait tragedy.

Motor boats Chi-Chi and Keziah bound for Jordan, Guimaras capsized at around 12:15 p.m. due to a squall. Three hours after, Jenny Vince bound for Iloilo left assuming that the weather was good but capsized at around 3:30 p.m also because of a squall.

A total of 52 passengers and 13 crew members who were onboard Motor Bancas Chi-Chi, Keziah, and Jenny Vince survived while 31 passengers perished.

It is not yet finalized as to when the inquiry will start as the SP said they will have to check the availability of the stakeholders involved.

Meanwhile, an investigation has been conducted by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), in coordination with other concerned agencies to find the root cause and the lapses which led to the incident.

Pending the results of the investigation, four officials from the PCG and two from Marina in Western Visayas were relieved from their posts.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade confirmed on Wednesday that the station commanders of PCG for Iloilo, Commodore Perlita Cinco and Commodore Joe Luviz Mercurio for Guimaras alongside two of their duty officers have been relieved.

Marina Regional Director for Western Visayas Rizal Victoria and the franchising officer of Marina were also relieved.