Eleven of the 14 missing crew and passengers of Liberty 5 which collided with a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship Sunday morning off Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro are residents of Palawan.
Fermin Soto, operations manager of Irma Fishing Trading Inc. which owns Liberty 5, told Palawan News in a phone interview Monday that the majority of them are from Magsaysay.
“Majority are from Magsaysay, tapos may taga-Cuyo at Araceli,” he said.
The skipper of Liberty 5, on the other hand, is from Aklan. He has been identified as Jose Magnes Alfonso.
The reported missing crew as of Sunday are Alfonso, Reynante Dahon (chief mate), Reynil Magura (chief engineer), Miguel Comaling (assistant chief engineer), Joefrey Bantog and Jeerom Alaska (oilers), Michael Flores (master hatchman), Jayson Bigonte, Adrian Robert Amogod, Bartolome Oab Jr., Herbert Dalabajan, and Reynald Riparip (hatchmen), and passengers Ariel Tabang and Eduardo Manipol.
“Yong kapitan lang po ang hindi taga-Palawan, taga-Aklan siya,” Soto said.
“Yong crew mismo ng Liberty 5 ay 12 tapos may dalawang passenger. Yong passengers na sinasabi natin yong mga fishermen na naka-destino sa laot na magbabakasyon [at] doon sila sasakay para umuwi dito at mag-file ng kanilang leave,” he added.
On Sunday, Liberty 5 was reported to have collided with MV Vienna Wood, a cargo vessel that is registered in Hong Kong with Chinese crew, around 1 a.m. while leaving Occidental Mindoro.
Soto said it was expected to arrive around 10 a.m. on June 28, but it did not make any report to them.
“Nangyari po ito Linggo ng ala-una ng umaga, supposedly ang ETA (expected time of arrival) ng carrier namin na Liberty 5 ay 10 a.m. ng Linggo ng umaga. May mga reporting time sila halimbawa alas siete, alas nuebe, ala una ng hapon. Noong alas siete ng umaga, wala silang report so ini-expect namin dahil alas diyes ng umaga ang dating nila dito sa boulevard o fish port bay nandito na po siya. Noong time na yon, siguro mga 8 or 8:30 a.m., ina-update siya wala pa rin dito,” he said.
Soto said they only learned that it capsized when FB Wacky, a carrier of Irma, arrived in the vicinity of Cape Calavite in Mamburao where the collision happened and saw a broken piece of wood with Liberty 5 written on it.
“Nag-positive ang hinala namin, hinahanap namin na yong dapat na dumating dito ng alas diyes ng umaga ay yon na yong lantsa na may name plate na Liberty fishing boat at doon nabalitaan na may nagbanggaan nga daw ng ala-una ng madaling araw,” Soto added.
No survivors yet
As of press time, Soto said search and rescue efforts being carried out by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have yet to find any survivor from the ill-fated fishing boat.
He said that different reports coming out on social media have not been confirmed to them.
“Sa pag-re-rescue doon sa ngayon wala pa kaming nakita kahit isa. Pati yong PCG doon may helicopter nga doon ngayon. Sa Facebook mayroong mga nagsasabing mayroon — sana nga totoo po yon. Matawagan sana kami dito para mapuntahan namin at makuha namin ang na-rescue nila,” Soto said.
Janice Lagrosa, eldest sister of 21-year-old oiler Alaska, said his family in Barangay Lucbuan, Magsaysay town is praying for his safe return.
The youngest among three siblings of the Alaska family in Magsaysay, Lagrosa said her brother left their place in February to work as an oiler of one of the fishing boats of Irma.
“Noong February pa siya umalis dito. Pero nakasakay siya mga March na siguro. Ang sinasakyan niya carrier, pabalik-balik ng Maynila. Wala pang update, hindi namin alam kung anong nangyayari sa kanya,” Lagrosa told Palawan News, her voice cracking.
“Ini-expect talaga namin na makita namin siya na buhay. Bunso po namin siya, lima kaming magkakapatid. Mabait po yon, sana makita siyang buhay,” she said.
Lagrosa said it was their sibling in Manila who told their family that their brother, whom they fondly call “Dodoy”, was aboard Liberty 5.