Balabac town authorities recovered early Monday afternoon the remains of the 15-year-old “octopus diver” who was attacked by a saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) in Barangay Indalawan.
Police Staff Sergeant Mark Anthony Colili of the Balabac Municipal Police Station (MPS) said they only recovered the upper torso of victim Romilo Miranda. His lower torso, left arm, and head were missing.
They recovered his remains at Sitio Bual, Barangay Malaking Ilog at around 1:50 p.m.
“Ang na-recover namin half body lang simula pusod hanggang sa may leeg niya banda, tapos may kasamang right arm. No head, no left arm, and no lower body part,” Colili told Palawan News in a phone interview.
Colili, also the case investigator, said Miranda was a resident of Indalawan where he was attacked on Sunday night and a Grade 8 student of the Indalawan National High School.
He said the search and retrieval operation was conducted Monday by joint operatives of the Balabac MPS, Philippine Coastguard (PCG), 2nd Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group (2nd SOU-MG), and Indalawan security officers.
Colili said the uncle of Miranda, whom he identified as Pablo Sarmiento, reported the attack to their station around 9 a.m. on Monday, September 9.
Colili said the report of Sarmiento indicated that Miranda was diving in the coastal water of Indalawan Sunday night to catch octopus with his uncle and two other cousins when the attack happened at around 10 p.m.
“Trabaho na nila ang mag-sisid ng kugita. Namamana sila. Sabay silang sumisid. Pagsisid nila napansin nila ‘yong kasama nilang isa hindi na lumutang. Napansin ng pinsan niya na kinagat-kagat na siya ng buwaya at dinadala na siya sa laot,” said Colili.
Colili said the family still tried to search for the victim on the same night, hoping they could still rescue him. However, they did not see Miranda anymore.
He said this was the first time in recent months, as far as he knows, that a crocodile attacked in the area.
He also added the residents must avoid swimming in Balabac waters, most especially this season when crocodiles are still breeding.
“Iyong nanay hindi namin nakausap. Ilang beses na din nawalan ng malay since noong nabalitaan niya pa lang ang nangyari. Ang tatay ng bata [naman] nasa Mangsee,” said Colili.