Teenager drowns in Lanao Norte coastal village

LINAMON, Lanao del Norte (MindaNews / 20 Jan) – A teenager who went missing in a coastal village in Baroy in this province on Tuesday was found dead early the next day submerged in the sea not far from the shore where he was last seen.

The municipality of Baroy in Lanao del Norte. Map courtesy of Google

Fisherman Elmer Gastanes found the body of 16-year-old Francis Aguilar in Purok 4 of Barangay Baroy Daku around 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to brothers Richard and Peter Laurence Legaspi, both seafarers who are home during the pandemic and volunteered in the search efforts.

Aguilar was reportedly wearing yellow short pants without a shirt, and there were no injuries observed but his nose was bleeding.

According to Petty Officer II Roger Guiam of the Philippine Coast Guard based in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Aguilar was declared missing 2 p.m. Tuesday. He was reportedly out in the sea with a friend, Jun Rey Sanson, 17. Both were from Purok 4 of Baroy Daku.

They were reportedly about 100 meters from shore aboard a motorized banca that was anchored to a fish cage.

Aguilar, who didn’t know how to swim, was left alone in the boat, but the boat gradually drifted away carried by strong undercurrent, Guiam said.

As Sanson tried to reposition the boat, Aguilar reportedly jumped into the water, afraid that he will be carried away aboard the boat all on his own.

In his panic, Aguilar clung to Sanson, who struggled to bring him to the shore.

Sanson left Aguilar close to the shore, the water at shoulder level. Guiam said Sanson asked Aguilar if he could handle the depth, and replied yes.

So Sanson swam back to fetch the boat. But when he came back, he could not find Aguilar.

Sanson then sought help from fisherfolks and other people in the neighborhood.

Guiam said 40 volunteers came to help, including the rescue team from the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, the Baroy Daku Emergency Rescue Unit, fisherfolks, the Coast Guard in Tubod and Maritime Police.

They ended search and rescue operations around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, to resume the next day.

The search began early on Wednesday, the Coast Guard leading the way under Capt. Dexter Torres, acting PCG Commander of Northern Mindanao.

Aguilar’s body was then brought to a funeral parlor for proper disposition. (Richel V. Umel / MindaNews)