Search still on for remaining 4 missing Sarangani fishermen

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 June) – Government rescuers continued with the search and rescue operations Wednesday for the remaining four fishermen from Maasim town who went missing following the storm surge along the Sarangani Bay last June 12.

Maasim Mayor Arturo Lawa said the local government has dispatched additional patrol teams to several portions of the Sarangani Bay and the neighboring waters to search for the unaccounted fishermen.

“Our search and rescue operations have not stopped and we’re hopeful that these missing fishermen are still alive and may have drifted to the neighboring islands and waters,” the mayor said.

Lawa said the local government is set to release an initial financial assistance of P5,000 to the families of the missing fishermen.

A report released late Tuesday afternoon by the Maasim Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) noted that the number of missing fishermen from the area has gone to four from 13 as of Sunday.

“The other missing persons on the list have either been rescued or had returned home,” said Maasim MDRRMO chief Ronald Orbita.

He identified the missing persons as Roberto Alberca alias Lolong of Barangay Poblacion, Cesar Sunico of Barangay Kablacan, Nestor Leones of Barangay Kabatiol and Nasser Andong of Barangay Tinoto, all of Maasim.

Orbita said Francis Vil Fadal and Ronnie Fadal, who were among the 13 persons earlier listed as still missing, have returned to their homes in Barangay Colon in Maasim around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

The PDRRMO earlier noted that 368 fishermen have already been rescued in the area following last week’s storm surge, which was triggered by a passing low pressure area (LPA).

The storm surge, which triggered giant waves reportedly reaching as high as 30 feet, destroyed over a dozen fishing boats and left a fisherman dead so far.

The LPA, which brought heavy rains in the area, caused flashfloods in several coastal villages in the municipality of Glan.

Ben Solarte, Sarangani Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) head, said the Philippine Coast Guard has not yet called off the search and rescue operations for the missing fishermen and maintained its notice to mariners to help look out for them.

During the Sarangani provincial board’s regular session on Tuesday, he said it passed three resolutions “supporting the immediate relief operation for internally displaced families and individuals in the municipalities of Glan and Maasim brought about by the June 12 flashfloods and storm surge.”

The municipalities of Glan and Maasim were placed under the state of calamity last week due to the devastating impact of the floods and the storm surge.

Solarte said the provincial board resolutions, which were adopted from the PDRRM Council resolutions passed during its emergency meeting last Monday, “authorized the augmentation and downloading of funds amounting to P1.5 million for Glan and P500,000 for Maasim from the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund (LDRRMF).”

Such funds would be utilized as relief funds for the 6,470 flashflood victims in Glan and 375 rescued fishermen in Maasim town, he said.

The board authorized the allocation of P50,000 from the LDRRMF for the travel expenses of a team from the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office who would conduct psycho social stress debriefing sessions to the typhoon victims who were experiencing “psychological trauma.”

The legislative body also authorized the use of P400,000 from the LDRRMF for the purchase of additional 250 sacks of rice that will serve as the provincial government calamity stocks.

Based on the latest assessment conducted by the PDRRMO, the total damage wrought by the floods in Glan has already reached P27.8 million.

It said the damage to local infrastructure was pegged at P21 million while the damage to agricultural crops was so far valued at P6.8 million. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)