The four cornered wall of SP session hall was filled with terrified faces and voices of survivors of 8-3-19 sea tragedy as they have given the chance to tell their story during the Legislative Inquiry conducted by the 9th Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the Province of Guimaras spearheaded by Hon. Vice Governor Atty. John Edward Gando held last August 14, 2019.
The legislative inquiry was intended to shed light of what really happened during the tragic incident and to guide the government officials of their next step if only to ensure the travellers coming in and out of the province.
The inquiry was attended by the survivors of the three (3) capsized bancas (MB Keziah, MB Chi-Chi, MB Jenny Vince), pumpboat associations, and crews. It was also witnessed by PDRRMC coordinator, Teresita Siason; Office of the Governor-Chief of staff, Jaypee Kein Entridicho and other staffs; Leah C. Beltran and former Board Member Hon. Dan Elby Habaña. Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and Philippine Coast Guard(PCG) didn’t show up. They are supposed to answer the queries regarding the said incident since they are mandated and responsible to perform maritime search and rescue, maritime law enforcement, maritime safety, marine environmental protection, and maritime security.
During the affair, the tragedy is still vivid in the minds of the survivors and elaborating their stories like they were still on the catastrophe. The heartaches reminiscing on how they fight to survive in the edge of death leads some of them to petrified tears. According to them, casualties may lessen if the Coast Guard were able to respond immediately, dived unto the capsized boat and rescued them one by one. But then, it was the crew and passengers themselves helped each other to survive. Unluckily, several victims didn’t endure the hardships under the boat. Some Coast Guard personnel came at the area, with no gears and rescue equipment with them, but only to pick up survivors. Further, most of them are crying and calling for a justice to their loved ones and companions.
Hon. Gando emphasized that the government officials don’t want to blame or pin anyone down but if there is someone or anyone found liable of what had happened, he/she should take responsibility of his/her actions. The Sangguniang members were dissappointed with PCG and MARINA for not attending or responded to the said invitation. They assure the survivors, families’ victims, and the folks affected by the tragedy that whatever was the result of the refusal of the said agencies, after a deliberate discussion and consultation with the Office of the Ombudsman, they will make sure to be held liable for their actions. Also, after a thorough meetings and discussion between the Sangguniang members regarding of the sentiments and testimonies of these survivors, they will decide to call the attention of the Honorable Ombudsman to initiate further investigation regarding of the said incidents and request them to file necessary administrative cases against these personnel on duty during that time.
However, inspite of what had happened, Hon. Vice Governor Gando in behalf of the 9th Sangguniang Panlalawigan make sure, in coordination with PDRRMC coordinator Ms. Teresita Siason, will invite resource person who has expertise to conduct seminars and trainings in relation to sea drill and sea survival. Motorbancas Association in the province is also persuaded to be part of this advocacy.