RISKY AND DEADLY: Sea tragedy prompts probe, changes in pump boat design

COMMODORE Allan Victor dela Vega w

By: Francis Allan L. Angelo

A PHILIPPINE Coast Guard (PCG) official said the design of pump boats plying the Iloilo-Guimaras route should be examined and even changed after three boats sank on Aug 3, 2019, leaving at least 28 dead and three others missing

Witnesses said the three wooden-hulled boats – Keziah 2, Chi-Chi, and Jenny Vince – capsized due to squalls or sudden violent winds (locally called pugada).

Commodore Allan Dela Vega, PCG-Western Visayas district commander, said it is time to review the design of the pump boats and if proven to be vulnerable to the elements, the boats must be phased out.

“In land, we are phasing out old jeepneys. Meanwhile, sea vessels here in Iloilo-Guimaras are still traditional, wooden boats with outriggers. What is it about the design that makes these boats very vulnerable when there are squalls?” Dela Vega said.

Some of the survivors claimed that the tarpaulin cover of the pump boat was a factor in the capsizing of the boats as the sudden wind gusts scooped up the boat before slamming it onto the water.

Some of the casualties were also trapped in the upturned hull and tarpaulin cover, just like what happened to 11 passengers of MBCA Jenny Vince.



The issue of whether or not boat passengers in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait should wear life vests is the subject of a pending court case, he added.

The Guimaras government in 2010 appealed to require passengers to only hold life jackets, instead of wearing these during the 30-minute trip, because many of them are office workers and the safety gear would rumple their clothes, said Dela Vega.

Some of Saturday’s fatalities, he added, were wearing life jackets and may have found it difficult to swim when they were pinned underneath the capsized boats.

Scores of people die each year from ferry accidents in the Philippines, an archipelago of 7,100 islands with a poor record for maritime safety.



President Rodrigo Duterte will visit today, Aug 7, 2019 victims of the Iloilo Strait tragedy.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte’s visit would likely be in the afternoon.

Malacañang earlier extended its condolences to the families of the fatalities.

“The Palace expresses its sincerest condolences to the families, relatives and friends of the people who died at sea following the capsizing of 3 vessels due to strong waves produced by a squall while in transit from Iloilo City to Guimaras,” Panelo said in a statement.

Three vessels capsized over the weekend due to strong waves likely produced by a squall. An investigation is underway to confirm the cause of the tragedy which left at least 28 people dead as of the latest count of the local disaster risk and reduction office.

Following the incident, Malacañang directed the Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Industry Authority and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to “refine their coordination efforts in safeguarding the security of the public especially during this rainy season.” (With a report from ABS-CBN News)