UK warns vs sea travel amid Iloilo Strait tragedy

A SEA of passengers crowds a roll on-roll off vessel at the Jordan RORO Wharf in Guimaras on Aug 6, 2019 as pump boat trips remain suspended due to bad weather and the tragic Iloilo Strait mishaps last Aug 3. Martime authorities allowed three more RORO vessels to transport the stranded passenger between Guimaras and Iloilo City. (Photo courtesy of Nuhj Etabas)

By: Jennifer P. Rendon 

THE United Kingdom has warned its citizens against sea travel in the Philippines in the wake of the capsizing of three passenger boats in Iloilo Strait.

“On 3 August 2019, three ferry boats capsized in the Iloilo-Guimaras straits, with at least 30 lives lost. Avoid travel on ferries and passenger boats if possible, particularly in the rainy season (June-December),” according to the travel advisory released on Aug. 5, said.

In its updated travel advisory, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) noted that passenger boats “are often overloaded, may lack necessary lifesaving equipment or be inadequately maintained and have incomplete passenger manifests. Storms can develop quickly and maritime rescue services in the Philippines may be limited.”

As of 3 p.m. of Aug. 6, the Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office’s (ICDRRMO) consolidated report indicated 28 casualties and three missing passengers in the Iloilo Strait mishaps.

On Tuesday morning, two male bodies were recovered from the sea between Dumangas, Iloilo and Bacolod City.

Another body was spotted at around 2:45 p.m. near Dumangas town.

The ICDRRMO report on Tuesday indicated a total of 83 passengers (73 of whom were listed in the manifesto) and 12 crew members from the three ill-fated pump boats.

Fifty-two passengers and all crew members survived the incident.



Meanwhile, Guimaras Vice Governor John Edward Gando said that the latest advisory might affect the tourism industry and image of the province.

But as to what extent, Gando said it will be determined after evaluation.

Gando said they could not determine the number of British citizens residing and visiting the island province.

In general, Gando said the incident will have a negative impact on the province since it involves the safety of sea travel to the island.

Next Wednesday, Aug. 14, he said they would convene representatives of concerned agencies to discuss issues surrounding the tragedy.

“More than anyone, we want to know what led to the tragedy. What are the causes? Who should be held liable, if there is?” Gando said.

But in the meantime, he said their concern is how to address the concern of the people of Guimaras and the stranded passengers.

Gando said there’s also an urgency to attend to the needs of the victims, survivors, and their families.

Until now, sea travel of passenger pump boats are still not allowed in the Iloilo Strait.

Passengers had to line up, amid bad weather conditions, to catch a ride on a Ro-Ro vessel operated by FF Cruz Shipping Corporation.

But the Iloilo City government and the province of Guimaras appealed to other shipping companies for additional vessels that could help transport passengers to and from Iloilo and Guimaras.

Amid all these developments, Gando acknowledged that they will have to do some image re-building on how to entice tourists to the island.

“It would be the collective efforts of the Guimaras local government, the people, the Department of Tourism, and other stakeholders,” he said.