By: Jeiel Edillon and Joyce Bitoca
MIAGAO, Iloilo – Maritime safety officers urged fisherfolks to immediately report accidents involving boat crews in order to save lives.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) substation in San Joaquin, Iloilo issued the call after a fishing boat diver was found dead 59 hours after reported missing last Sept 29, 2019.
The victim was drunk when dived into the water some 1.5 nautical miles away from the Miagao’s shoreline.
Richard Ibañez, captain of fishing vessel Helen Grace 2, said in his testimony that victim Leo Antonino drowned while trying to secure their improvised life raft before heading to the anchorage area 10 meters away from the Coast Guard Sub-Station (CGSS) in San Joaquin.
“Sabi ng Kapitan sobrang lasing daw siya [Antonino] noon kaya inutos niya na ang motorman na lang ang kumuha ng life rafts na trabaho dapat ng bosero, pero si Antonino bigla na lang daw nag dive ng walang pasabi,” according to Petty Officer 1 Ariel Villegas, CGSS San Joaquin Sub-station head.
The Master’s Declaration of Safe Departure (MDSD) provides that officers and crew of a sea vessel should be in healthy and sound condition, fit to perform duties and not under the influence of alcohol or prohibited drugs before the intended voyage.
“Ino-orient namin silang lahat na bago umalis for fishing ventures, bawal uminom maliban na lang kung stand-by sila for five days na na-abisuhan ng may-ari, hindi pwede yung uminom sa gabi tapos aalis agad at magbyahe,” Villegas added.
The incident happened while the crewmembers were setting their supplies to be cleared for fishing ventures. However, they did not inform the emergency respondents until an hour after the incident.
“Magte-text dapat agad sa amin na first respondents [MDRRMC, PNP, PCGA, and CGSS] yung owners kapag may nangyari sa crew nila. Kaso ang nangyari, sila-sila lang ang naghanap, mga around 6 p.m. pa kami na inform kaya pagdating naming gabi na, delikado na mag-dive sa dilim,” PO1 Villegas said.
Antonino’s fellow crew and boat mechanic Lloyd Urbano tried to rescue the victim but failed.
“Tinakbo ng motorman yung kabila, nag dive din para makuha siya kaso malalim na eh, yung area na di-nive nya is 150 feet at may mas palalim pa kaya delikado,” said Ibañez.
Miagao Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (MDRRM) Responder Teody Sobremisana found the body on Oct 2, at around 5:30 a.m. in the coastline of Barangay Sapa, Miagao.
“Off-duty ako nung makita kong lumulutaw ang bangkay,” Sobremisana said.