Surigao fisherman still missing

MASAPELID ISLAND, PLACER, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews / 31 Oct) –   The search for fisherman Lemuel “Awing” Polistico has widened but he remains missing as of Wednesday.

Abelardo Lambus, councilor of Barangay Lakandula said he joined the search operations since early Tuesday morning but Polistico, who was reported missing on Monday afternoon, has yet to be found.

The search has already reached as far as Claver Bay northeast of this island to Taganaan town from the opposite side of this island and nearing Surigao Strait, Lambus said.

Residents interviewed at random have said Polistico went towards the sea to “meet up” (manugma) with the “liba-liba” fishing boat just within the Masapelid Bay and less than a hundred nautical miles from the barangay proper.

This type of fishing among the locals is a “normal practice,” Lambus said. Fishermen meet with the bigger boat, considered to be illegal in this province, to ask for a share of the fish catch so they can have something to eat for dinner, Lambus said.

Polistico’s pumpboat was recovered by a group of fishermen onboard the “liba-liba” fishing boat. “The boat’s engine was still running when it was found,” an old woman said.

In an interesting twist of event, Eutiquio Saga Jr., barangay chair of Lakandula, said Polistico’s fate is a result of the work stoppage order issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau 13 against Bundok Mineral Resources Corporation where he was employed.

“He is jobless that is why he had to go fishing because they don’t have anything to eat anymore,” Saga said, adding Polistico worked with the mining company operating in this island.

Lambus, however, denied the chieftain’s claim, saying Polistico has been out of the company for the past three months. “He was terminated from work. Fishing has been the people’s main livelihood here,” he said.

Polistico’s wife and children are being assisted by the former’s family and neighbors, Lambus said.

Saga said it was only on Tuesday when BMRC learned of Polistico’s fate. It is not known whether assistance will be extended to Polistico’s wife and five kids except that Saga said the management will “act on this.”

The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Center in Placer is closely coordinating with local barangay officials, Saga and Lambus confirmed. (Vanessa L. Almeda / MindaNews)