Fisherman killed, 6 rescued as SuperFerry rams banca off Sarangani Bay

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 Nov) – A fisherman was killed while six others were injured when a passing SuperFerry passenger rammed into a motorized banca off the Sarangani Bay early Friday.

Supt. Edgard Cuanan, regional chief of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Maritime Group 12, said M/V SuperFerry 20 was cruising around three miles off the coasts of Barangay Tinoto in Maasim town in Sarangani when it hit the motorized boat San Jose Bayanihan around 1 a.m.

The banca, which had seven fishermen onboard, was total wreck, he said.

Cuanan said six of the seven fishermen, who were all residents of this city, were immediately rescued by patrol boat of the PNP Maritime Group 12.

He said fisherman Giovanni Buntong, 60, was initially pronounced missing but was found dead by local rescuers around 3 a.m. Buntong was a former chair of Purok Malok in Barangay Labangal here.

The official said the six fishermen – Joseph Gediones, Bryan Enero, Marjun Kirames, Junito Mendoza, Regalado Caceller and Rex Polawing – are currently being treated at the city district hospital here for various injuries.

Mendoza, the boat’s skipper, said in an interview with a local radio station that they were preparing to fish in the area when they were suddenly hit by the passing M/V SuperFerry 20.

He said the collision totally destroyed their boat and fishing gear. “We immediately tried to swim towards the shore but we were rescued by the patrolling boat of the PNP Maritime Group,” Mendoza said in the vernacular.

Cuanan said that prior to the incident, their patrolling personnel sent out light and sound signals to fishing boats in the area to warn them about the passing passenger vessel.

“It appears that the fishermen were not familiar with the basic warning signals about the coming ship,” he said.

The official said they were still determining whether M/V SuperFerry 20, which left the Makar wharf here shortly before midnight Thursday, also gave out warning signals before the collision.

He said the vessel, which is owned and operated by Aboitiz Transport System, was en route to Manila.

Cuanan pointed out that their personnel have been regularly warning local fishermen regarding the passing vessels but they usually ignore them.

He said some fishermen would even attempt to race down the bigger vessels and try to cross their path.

“Most of these fishermen are really hard-headed. We’ve been giving them the necessary warnings but they deliberately refuse to heed them,” he said. (Allen V Estabillo / MindaNews)