PH Coast Guard ships sail to quake-hit Batanes for relief ops

Robie de Guzman   •   August 2, 2019   •   517

MANILA, Philippines – Two vessels of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) are on their way to Batanes province to bring relief goods and supplies for the victims of two successive earthquakes that jolted Itbayat town last July 27.

The PCG said the ships called BRP Malabrigo and BRP Capones are carrying relief goods and supplies including tents (steel frame and tent cover), sleeping kits, laminated sack roles (lona), boxes of canned goods, noodles, bottled water, toiletries, powdered milk and packs of rice.

The supplies, which were loaded on the ships on Wednesday (July 31), were from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the PCG Auxilliary.

The vessels left on Thursday morning but it remains unclear on when the ships will arrive in Batanes due to strong waves, according to the PCG.

The mobilization is part of the agency’s response plan following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to assist Batanes residents heavily affected by the tremors.

According to PCG Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino, three vessels including the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ BRP Francisco Dagohoy have been tasked to conduct a transport mission to Batanes.

The PCG also deployed its Islander plane with medical teams on board to assist the Department of Health (DOH) personnel attending to the medical needs of residents affected by the earthquakes.

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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