IMO honors PCG officer from Bohol
CEBU CITY, Philippines – For saving all crew and passengers in a sinking ferry even off-duty, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) honored a Boholono officer of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Probationary Ensign Ralph Ofalla Barajan was recognized as one of the recipients for IMO’s 2020 Exceptional Bravery at Sea during the organization’s Virtual Awards premiered last Wednesday evening, April 7 (Philippine Standard Time).
“I am earnestly grateful for the International Maritime Organization for this distinct recognition… I am giving my heartfelt thanks to God and all the people who made this recognition possible,” said Barajan in his speech.
Barajan, who hails from Bohol, also dedicated his award to ‘all unsung heroes of PCG’, the survivors of MV Siargao Princess, and to his family.
“It may take a lot of effort to maintain a safe and secured maritime environment but with patriotic, compassionate, and God-fearing coastguardians, one thing is certain, we will never fall short of brave men and women of the Philippine Coast Guard,” he added.
Barajan is the first Filipino to receive IMO’s Exceptional Bravery at Sea Award, an annual international recognition for individuals who performed acts of exceptional bravery – risking their own lives to ensure the safety of life at sea or to prevent or mitigate marine environmental damage.
He was one of the survivors of the ill-fated MV Siargao Princess that sank five nautical miles off the shore of Sibonga town in southern Cebu in November 2019.
The ferry ship came from Catagbacan Port in Loon, Bohol.
Barajan, an off-duty Coast Guard assigned in the Coast Guard Southern Cebu Station in Oslob, was credited for ensuring all 62 passengers and crew of the MV Siargao Princess made it alive after the sinking.
IMO held its first virtual event last Wednesday, replacing its traditional ceremony that would have taken place in their headquarters in London last 2020.
In his closing remarks, Kitack Lim, secretary-general of IMO, urged all member states and other groups under IMO to continue sending nominations for ‘deserving individuals worthy of the awards’.
Aside from Barajan, the IMO also awarded the 2020 Exceptional Bravery at Sea to two Brazilian seafarers for preventing a catastrophic oil spill at the Terminal Almirante Barroso in São Sebastião Port amid bad weather.
They are Marcio Santos Teixeira and Mr. Fabio Rodrigues Alves de Abreu, members of the São Paulo Pilots.
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