GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/11 December) — Seven more crewmembers of tuna fishing vessels from this city that went missing at the height of typhoon “Pablo” a week ago were rescued on Monday off Mindanao’s eastern seacoasts, officials confirmed on Tuesday.
Commander Lued Lincuna, spokesperson of the newly-activated Task Force Maritime Search and Rescue Operations-SarGen (Sarangani/General Santos City), said three of the fishermen were found by rescuers near a “payao” or fish aggregating device off the coasts of Surigao del Sur and Davao Oriental.
The recued fishermen were identified as Peter Magnasi, Dennis Codilla and Rene Maulas, who were all residents of this city.
“They were holding on to some log debris upon their rescue,” said Lincuna, who is also commander of Philippine Navy patrol gun boat 114 BRP Salvador Abcede stationed in this city.
The official attributed the rescue of the tree fishermen to the “air reconnaissance” activities launched by joint government and private rescue teams in the area.
The task force earlier pushed for the conduct of aerial surveys to help locate the 46 fishing vessels and 315 crewmembers from this city and the neighboring areas that were declared missing following the
onslaught of typhoon “Pablo.”
Aside from the three survivors, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported that four others were also rescued off the coasts of Caraga town in Davao Oriental on Monday morning.
The fishermen, who were recuperating at the Davao Oriental Provincial Hospital in Mati City, were identified as Roger Mendoza, Joseph Resnera, Bobby Farcaldo and Dante Barsina, all from this city.
The survivors were listed as crew members of M/V Shekina, which capsized at the height of typhoon “Pablo.”
As of Tuesday morning, Lincuna said the search and rescue operations are still ongoing for the missing fishermen that have so far gone down to 306.
Based on the task force records, he said two more light boats were confirmed to have earlier capsized, bringing the total number of unaccounted fishing vessels to 44.
“We’re still on the search and rescue mode, meaning we’re hoping and very hopeful of locating more survivors,” Lincuna said.
Joaquin Lu, president of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc., said they were also hopeful that the missing fishermen were still alive and had drifted into the open seas as a result of last week’s typhoon.
He said some of the unaccounted fishing boats might have been damaged and had problems with their radio communication equipment.
Lincuna said they were continually updating and reconciling their data regarding the rescue operations through field reports and accounts from the survivors.
He said they were also verifying reports from the families of the missing persons with the list of unaccounted fishing crew members submitted by the affected tuna fishing companies and SFFAII’s records.
The official said they initially found out that some of the missing persons who reported by their relatives were undocumented or not included in the list submitted to them by the fishing companies.
“We will continue to verify and reconcile this list to come up with a more accurate data of the missing persons,” he said.
The creation of the task force was an offshoot of a meeting called by the local government over the weekend with various concerned private and government agencies.
The meeting was joined by officials and representatives of the PCG, Philippine Navy, City Social Welfare and Development Office, Sarangani Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, Mindanao Development Authority and the SFFAII.
City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said the task force will mainly handle all ground coordination and other necessary initiatives that would help speed up the rescue of the missing fishermen and the
recovery of the unaccounted fishing vessels.
As part of the initiative, she said a maritime search and rescue operations center at the Camp Fermin Lira here. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)