Coast Guard ends search for 4 fishermen

By Evelyn Macairan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 06 2012 01:24 AM | Updated as of Jul 06 2012 09:24 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has ended its search and rescue mission for four fishermen who went missing after a foreign vessel reportedly rammed their boat in Bolinao, Pangasinan last June 20.

“We terminated the search and rescue last Sunday (July 1) because we have not seen anything,” PCG Northwestern Luzon District Command Capt. Leopoldo Laroya said yesterday.

“But we have informed the Philippine National Police and called on the coastal barangays, all the way to Ilocos Norte, to inform us if they find anything, ”Laroya said.

The air and sea search and rescue mission were for missing fishermen Fred Celino, Arnold Garcia, Domy de los Santos, and Amante Resonable.

The PCG said they have informed the families of the victims of their decision in coordination with local government units.

Meanwhile, PCG commandant Vice Admiral Edmund Tan said that they are still identifying the ship that reportedly rammed the fishing boat F/B Axl John used by the Filipino fishermen.

“So far there is no progress. We have not received any reply yet,” said Tan.

He said at the moment, the Hong Kong-registered cargo vessel M/V Peach Mountain is “only a suspect.”

“As the Navy said, there were many ships in the area within the 24 hour period of the incident,” he said.

Data culled by the PCG indicates that the fishing boat Axl John, with eight fishermen, sailed last June 18 and almost sank when waves crashed into it the following day.

The fishermen secured the boat by tying it to a long bamboo pole that serves as a marker for an artificial fishing ground or what is locally known as payaw. 

On June 20, an unidentified foreign ship passed by and was believed to have hit the bamboo pole causing the boat to drift.

Four fishermen – Edimeo Balmores, 40; Herman Balmores, 51; Celino Damian, 32; and Christopher Carbonel – were rescued, but Carbonel later died in hospital.

The PCG earlier denied that the incident was related to the Philippines standoff with China at the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal and called it an “ordinary maritime incident.”

Tan said the site where the foreign ship reportedly rammed the Axl John was “very far” from Panatag Shoal, or some 138 nautical miles away.