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Cops, Coast Guard unravel Laguna boat tragedy cause

August 1, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 216 views

THE root cause of the boat tragedy in Rizal is now being unraveled, based on the result of investigation of the Rizal Police Provincial Office.

Consider this: the boat manifest listed only 22 passengers but 27 drowned as a result of the tragedy while 40 other passengers and the boat captain and his two crew survived.

Investigation also revealed the boat was only designed and capable to carry only 42 people.

The two Coast Guard personnel have been relieved from their post as a result of the incident, which also prompted the Maritime Industry Authority to suspend the safety certificate of the ferry Princess Aya ahead of a full-blown inquiry by the Senate.

The boat sank in the middle of Laguna Lake moments after it was allowed by the Coast Guard personnel to leave the port of Binangonan, Rizal on its way to Talim Island.

Coast Guard commandant Admiral Artemio M. Abu said the two Coast Guard personnel were responsible for checking the passenger load of ferries that left the Binangonan port.

He ordered the investigation of the two to determine their accountability in the tragedy.

Police are still checking how much is being shelled by operators of overloaded boats to the Coast Guard so that they can be allowed to sail.

PCG spokesperson Rear Admiral Armando Balilo earlier said that the passengers apparently panicked after a sudden gust of wind and ran to the left side of the vessel, causing it to capsize.

However, the Rizal PPO headed by Colonel Dominque Baccay has found out that the boat originally carried a total of 70 people, nearly thrice its capacity.

The boat is one of the many passenger vessels regularly ferrying people to Talim Island, the largest lake island in Laguna de Bay which has more than 40,000 population as of 2020.

Observers said the tragedy also exposed the bad condition of residents of Talim Island whose only way to and from the area is by boat.

Residents have to pay P50 for each trip while outsiders are charged P150 to reach and leave the island since the tragedy.

The island, according to residents, has long been neglected by previous governments, lacking a bridge that will easily connect them to the nearest land.

Adequate supply of electricity as well as lack of doctors are also a problem of residents in the area.

Apart from that, boat passengers are not required to wear the customary life vests as proven by the death of the 27 who were not wearing the life jackets.

Last July 29, the Rizal PPO filed charges for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries against boat captain Donald Añain, boat operator Rufino Antonil and Coast Guard Petty Officer 2 Jay Rivera, the duty Coast Guard during the July 27 tragedy.

The investigators-on-case, Corporals Jefferson Soriano and Patrolman Patrick Genita, said that the accused will be charged for “submitting untruthful narration of facts by making it appear that he has only 22 passengers when the total passengers are 70, including the boat captain.”

Col. Baccay said his men are also still taking the supplemental affidavits of the survivors and other complainants which will trigger the inclusion of two more suspects in the case.

There are already l46 complainants in the case, all residents of Barangays Kaytome, Janosa, Gulod, Sapang, Ginoong Sanay and Buhangin, all in Binangonan.

The relatives of the 27 drowning victims have also called on the Rizal government to shoulder the funeral expenses of the victims claiming they are ‘poor people’ who cannot afford to pay for the wake and burial of their loved ones.