Authorities recover two more bodies in Iloilo-Guimaras strait tragedy

Robie de Guzman   •   August 6, 2019   •   632

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities on Tuesday recovered at least two more bodies amid ongoing search for the missing victims of the Iloilo-Guimaras strait tragedy, according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Around 9 a.m., personnel from the PCG and the Philippine Air Force found a body of a man wearing black shorts and t-shirt.

A few hours later, authorities found another body of a male, this time wearing navy-blue shorts and yellow shirt, sporting a black wristwatch and a ring on one of his fingers.

The bodies were found in waters surrounding Dumanggas and Guimaras areas, the PCG said.    

According to PCG Lieutenant Junior Grade Charibel Pugong, the bodies are already bloated and in an advanced state of decomposition.

“Isang naging problema namin doon medyo nahirapan po tayo sa pagrecover kasi bigla pong lumakas ang ulan and then ang hangin tapos malaki po ang alon so nahirapan po tayo sa pagkuha ng cadaver,” Pugong said.

Authorities are still working to identify the bodies and verify whether these were among the victims of the maritime incident.

Last Saturday (August 3), three pump boats capsized in the waters off Iloilo and Guimaras due to a sudden squall or violent winds.

READ: MARINA begins probe on Iloilo-Guimaras strait incident

Authorities said an investigation into the incidents is underway. (with details from Lalaine Moreno)

Taiwan gov’t lauds PH Court ruling in Balintang shooting incident

Marje Pelayo   •   September 19, 2019

TAIWAN – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday (September 18) lauded the Manila Regional Trial Court’s ruling on eight personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the May 2013 Balintang Channel shooting incident.

A Taiwanese fisherman named Hung Tzu-chien was killed in the incident.

In a statement, MOFA said both countries have worked closely to resolve the matter six years after.

However, the eight men can still appeal the ruling thus MOFA and Taiwan’s representative office in the Philippines said they will closely monitor future developments on the matter.

The court ruled that the convicted men were guilty of homicide and sentenced them 8 to 14 years in jail.

The court also ordered them to “jointly” pay P50,000 in civil indemnity and another P50,000 in moral damages to the heirs of the victim.

In a statement, the Philippine’s representative office in Taiwan, the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), expressed regret over the matter.

“We hope that both parties would eventually overcome the emotional strain that this regretful incident brought about more than six years ago and that our peoples can move on towards strengthening our bonds of friendship,” MECO said in its statement.

Manila court rules in favor of Taiwanese fisherman in Balintang shooting incident

Marje Pelayo   •   September 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The eight personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) who were involved in the shooting and death of a Taiwanese fisherman in Balintang Channel were convicted ‘guilty of homicide’ by a court in Manila.

According to the ruling of Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 15, the involved PCG personnel will face eight up to 14 years in prison for killing Taiwanese fisherman Hong Shi Cheng in the incident that happened in May 2013.

The accused include Cdr. Arnold Dela Cruz; SN2 Nicky Aurelio; SN1 Edrando Aguila; SN1 Mhelvyn Bendo II; SN1 Andy Gibb Golfo; SN1 Sunny Masangkay; SN1 Henry Solomon; and PO2 Richard Corpuz.

Likewise, the Court demanded that the defendants pay P100,000 in damages to the victim’s family.

The accused maintained that the shooting was unintentional when the Taiwanese vessel being paddled by Hong and his company trespassed into the Philippine waters.

The Coast Guard personnel argued that the Taiwanese vessel even engaged in a chase and rammed their patrol vessel which compelled the Philippine authorities to open fire.

The defendants’ legal counsel, Atty. Rod Moreno clarified, meanwhile, that the decision is not yet final and their camp vowed to appeal the case. – MNP (with reports from Roderic Mendoza)

Search still on for Chinese diver reported missing in Puerto Galera – PCG

Robie de Guzman   •   September 6, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Friday said it is still searching for a Chinese diver who was reported missing in Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro last August 31.

Personnel from Coast Guard Sub-station (CGSS) Puerto Galera is working with the PCG Auxillary 505th Squadron and volunteer divers from Barangay Sabang in Puerto Galera for the underwater search and rescue operations.

The PCG identified the missing diver as Ou Zhang Xiang, 50, who went missing during a scuba diving activity with two other Chinese nationals and two Filipinos at Ilima, Canyon Point.

Initial investigation revealed that about 15 minutes into their diving venture, the group decided to resurface but encountered strong low tide/downward current when they reached 31 meters from the surface.

Four of the divers were able to make it to the surface but one was left in the water.

This allegedly caused them to panic and lose control.

The insufficient level of oxygen on their scuba tanks also made them hesitate from helping back the distressed diver.

The PCG said search operations have resumed Friday after it was terminated 5 p.m. Thursday due to unfavorable sea conditions.

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