- Published on Tuesday, 26 June 2012 01:15
- Written by VICTOR REYES
By A Web design Company
THE Philippine Coast Guard yesterday said it suspects that a Hong Kong-registered vessel was the one that rammed last week a Philippine fishing boat off Bolinao in Pangasinan, leaving a fisherman dead and four others missing.
PCG spokesman Commander Armando Balilo said the Coast Guard is coordinating with the Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center to determine if MV Peach Mountain was the one that hit F/Bca Axl John last June 20.
Earlier yesterday, the PCG said in its website that bulk vessel MV Peach Mountain “accidentally hit” the fishing boat while passing the area, “leaving the boat to drift into a different direction with some falling aboard.”
“MV Peach Mountain was en route to China with 29 Chinese crew when the incident occurred,” the PCG statement also said.
It added that the PCG is coordinating with the Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center for an investigation.
When told of the statement tagging MV Peach Mountain, Balilo said: “Oh no. That’s not yet it (the culprit). That (statement) may be incorrect. That is just a suspect. I will have it (statement) pulled out.”
At around 5 p.m., the statement could no longer be seen from the PCG website.
“That was the one that transited the area but we cannot confirm yet. We want to determine if it was really the culprit,” said Balilo of MV Peach Mountain which he said came from Indonesia and was en route to Hong Kong.
In an earlier interview, Balilo said his agency will get in touch with the surviving fishermen to determine if they are certain that the ship that rammed their boat was a Hong Kong vessel.
He said the incident occurred around 78 nautical miles off Bolinao, which is a traditional passage lane of commercial vessels.
Bolinao Mayor Alfonso Celeste said the three survivors told him that the much larger vessel did not bother to stop and help the Filipino fishermen after ramming their boat.
“Allegedly binangga daw sila…Allegedly ganoon po ang pagkasabi pero hindi sila sigurado…Nagkahiwalay-hiwalay na sila…Nahati yata sa dalawa yung bangka kaya lumubog yung bangka dahil nakatali sila sa payaw (articial reef),” Celeste told a radio interview.
“Yun nga ang nagtataka sila dahil malaki naman yung bangka kasi. Hindi sila hinintuan man lang o papaano dapat gawin sana nila, tumulong man lang doon sa nabangga nila…Tuloy tuloy lang yung bumangga sa kanila,” he added.
He said the Filipino fishermen held on to the wreckage scattered in the waters to stay afloat until the four were carried away by strong currents to Magsingal, Ilocos Sur where they were spotted by local fishermen.
The body of Christopher Carbonel, the lone fatality, was brought back to his house in Bolinao town. The three survivors were reunited with their families.
Celeste said the Bolinao local government is coordinating with the Coast Guard and the local risk reduction management council for the recovery of the four missing fishermen.
He said they could have been lost in another area.
Chinese embassy spokesman Zhang Hua, in a statement Sunday night that was uploaded in the embassy’s website Monday, said the proper authorities have yet to verify reports about the “accidental bumping” of boats last June 20.
“Such media reports remain to be verified. Upon seeing the stories, the Chinese Embassy immediately checked with the relevant authorities in China and was told that, up until now there have been no reports of vessel collision accident or SOS requests on the reported dates and in the reported waters,” Zhang said.
“Someone reportedly said that the Philippine fishing boat was ‘rammed by Chinese vessel.’ We wonder what that news story was based upon. We hope relevant persons can verify the facts with a responsible attitude before they report,” he added.
In Baguio City, President Aquino said it is too early to say who was responsible and that authorities are focused on finding the missing fishermen.
“We are gathering all of the necessary evidence…Once you have gathered the necessary evidence, then if there was a ramming incident and iniwan mo iyung mga tao sa dagat that is in clear violation of the laws governing the seas. Then that is actionable. We can go to the appropriate fora to file the necessary charges for justice for our fishermen,” he said.
The President also expressed sadness that one fisherman died.
He assured that the injured are being cared for in the hospital and assisted by the social welfare department. – With Raymond Africa, Evangeline de Vera and Jocelyn Montemayor