GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/8 December) — The number of missing fishermen from this city and the neighboring areas due to the onslaught of super Typhoon Pablo has climbed to 315 on Saturday as more fishing boats owned by tuna fishing companies based in this city were reported unaccounted to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) station here.
A report released by the PCG-General Santos station cited that a total of 46 fishing boats and their crew members have been so far reported as missing by six tuna fishing companies as a result of the weather disturbance.
It said the unaccounted fishing boats, which comprised light to medium carriers and catchers, were owned by Rugela Fishing, RAFI Inc., RLG Fishing, DSG Fishing, LPS Fishing and Salazar Fishing.
The six fishing companies have submitted documents containing the names of the missing crewmembers of the unaccounted fishing boats.
On Friday, at least 30 fishing boats with 175 crewmembers were initially reported as missing by the affected fishing companies to the PCG station here.
Commander Nelbert Aniversario, PCG-General Santos station chief, said most of the unaccounted fishing boats lost contact with their bases here last Monday afternoon, which was about the time the super typhoon was reported to have started battering the seas off the eastern coasts of Mindanao.
The missing fishing fleets were reportedly located around 115 nautical miles off the Davao Oriental seaboard when the storm warning came, he said.
Aniversario said most of them were then working on their “payaos” or fish aggregating devices set up in the area.
The official said most of the unaccounted fishing vessels were already heading towards the nearest ports in Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental area when the storm had caught on them.
He said the PCG, Philippine Navy and several other fishing companies are presently conducting massive search and rescue operations for the missing fishing boats and their crewmembers.
Aniversario reiterated that they had given sufficient warnings and advisories to the fishing companies here regarding Typhoon “Pablo,” days ahead of its predicted entry into the Philippine area of responsibility last Monday.
“We relayed every weather forecast that we received from PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) as well as advisories from the NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council),” he said in an interview with a local television.
Aniversario believed the affected fishing companies should be held responsible over what happened to the crewmembers.
“They should answer for what had happened to the victims, they are under their employ,” he said.
The official said they are set to summon officials of the affected fishing companies for a special inquiry over the incident. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)