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Captain released without charges

THE captain of the motorized banca, which capsized off the seawaters of Camotes last Tuesday, was released after the survivors said they would not pursue charges against him.

“According to them (survivors), hindi raw sila magpa-file ng complaint against doon sa kapitan. So ang mangyayari ay kulang kami ng evidence or wala kaming testigo,” said Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Cebu Station Commander Jerome Cayabyab in a phone interview.

Captain Romar Hermosilla, who was turned over to the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) in Mandaue City last Tuesday, was released yesterday morning.

Cayabyab said Hermosilla, who was steering an unregistered boat, will only be penalized for a maritime violation for bringing passengers and departing from the port without clearance from the PCG.

The Coast Guard official said they are looking for the real owner of the M/V Habagat-R, earlier identified as Rene Misa.

“Sa ngayon hinahanap pa yong tunay na may-ari ng motor banca to ask for his side,” Cayabyab said.

The pump boat was bound for San Francisco town in the Camotes Islands from Carmen, Cebu last Tuesday morning, carrying 34 passengers. It capsized when hit by strong winds a few kilometers from the shoreline. Two passengers, a mother and child were found dead, while three other children are still missing.

The PCG and the Navy continue to search for the missing children, Cayabyab said.

He also said that there were not enough life jackets for the 34 passengers.

“Meron silang life jacket pero hindi enough sa 34 na sakay niya. Mostly, ang mga passengers ay walang life jacket that time, hindi talaga siya for carrying a passenger yung bangka,” Cayabyab said.

He reminded passengers to look after their safety when they ride watercraft.

“If ever sa mga passengers natin na sasakay sa bangka, dapat alam nila na rehistrado, safe and may life-saving equipment yong sasakyan nila,” he said.

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