Coast Guard personnel’s warning shots kill ‘illegal fisher’ in Daanbantayan
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Warning shots fired by two Coast Guard personnel on two fleeing fishing boats that they were trying to apprehend for illegal fishing off the waters of Daanbantayan town on Friday, March 26, allegedly accidentally hit and killed a crewman of one of the fishing vessels.
The two Coast Guard personnel – Jason De Padua and Christian Almorade – later surrendered to the Daanbantayan police when they learned of the death of the crewman in a hospital in neighboring Medellin town in northern Cebu, said Police Master Sergeant Noel Belicario, chief investigator of Daanbantayan Police Station, in a phone interview on March 27.
Belicario said that the incident happened at past 8 p.m. on Friday, off the waters of Dakit-Dakit in Barangay Logon, Daanbantayan town in northern Cebu.
The Coast Guard personnel surrendered to police at past 11 p.m. after they learned about the death of the fishing boat’s crewman.
Pursuit at sea
Investigation showed that the 2 Coast Guard personnel rode their PCG issued jet ski to apprehend the two fishing vessels, who were illegally fishing in the area.
The Coast Guard personnel told police that the two fishing boats were allegedly using superlight and illegal fishing gear.
Aside from that, they claimed that the two fishing boats were also fishing inside a marine protected area.
“Nakita ni nila ang two fishing vessel nga siga kaayo og suga so nagconduct og operation ang Coast Guard,” said Belicario.
(They saw that the two fishing vessels were using superlight and so the Coast Guard conducted an operation.)
“Then, they tried to apprehend the two fishing boat but gi neglect sila. Instead nga muhunong, nipadagan sa ilahang pumpboat,”
(They then tried to apprehend the two fishing boats, but they ignored them. Instead of stopping, they turned on the engines of their pumpboats and tried to flee from the area.)
One of the Coast Guard personnel then fired warning shots near the two boats using his M-16 rifle as they also pursued the fleeing boats on their jet ski.
But eventually, the two boats managed to escape.
The Coast Guard men did not realize that they had hit someone in one of the fishing boats and proceeded to Malapascua Island to conduct another operation there.
Brought to Medellin hospital
They only learned later that one of the crewmen of the fishing boats identified as Rolex Casebo, was brought to the hospital in Medellin town by the boat captain.
Casebo was declared dead on arrival by the hospital doctor, said Belisario.
The boat captain then later informed the Medellin Police Station about the death, who in turn also informed Daanbantayan Police Station about it.
The Daanbantayan policemen then coordinated with the PCG and went to Maya Port where the PCG had a station.
A few hours later, the two PCG personnel surrendered to police.
Belicario said that De Padua was the one who fired the warning shots at the fleeing vessels since Almorade was driving the jet ski.
The policeman also said that they were requesting that Casebo, the dead fishing boat crewman, would be autopsied so that they could find out where he was hit by the bullet and verify if the bullet came from the service firearm of one of the PCG personnel.
Commander Alven Dalagea of the Philippine Coast Guard Central Visayas said that they would follow the investigation process, but they still considered the two PCG personnel, for now, as not guilty unless the investigation would show that they were responsible for the unfortunate incident.
Aside from that, Dalagea said that the two Coast Guard men were also conducting a legal operation in the area.
The two Coast Guard personnel were detained at the Daanbantayan Police Station pending the filing of charges.
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