167 passengers rescued from Bohol-bound boat
With trips going to Bohol and other provinces fully-booked, desperate Bohol-bound passengers, who wanted to vote in today’s election, decided to get a ride in a motorized boat/banca at Pasil fish port leaving for Getafe, Bohol.
But motorboat (MB) Monico Zen, which was carrying 167 passengers including 6 infants plus 3 crew, encountered a mechanical problem at Lawis Ledge lighthouse, less than 30 minutes after they left Pasil fish port at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
Boat Captain Ferdinand Camacho, 47, said the boat did not stop but was just sailing at a very slow speed because of a transmission problem.
The boat’s captain later sought help from a passing motorboat that towed it to its destination. A Coast Guard vessel, however, intercepted the troubled boat at the Hilutungan Channel at about 11 a.m. and transferred the passengers from the boat to their vessel.
Cebu Coast Guard Station commander Agapito Bibat said he sent the CG vessel after he received a call from DILG Manila about the troubled boat.
The boat and the passengers were brought back to Cebu City. It docked near the BRP San Juan near the Malacañang sa Sugbo at past 2 p.m.
Bibat said the motorboat, owned by Monico and Zenaida Boc, was not registered for use to ferry passengers. The vessel was at the Pasil fish port to deliver seaweed.
Boat captain Camacho said while they were unloading their cargo, passengers suddenly rushed to the boat.
“Ako na ganing gikuha ang damyo, nanglayat na ang mga pasahero,” he said.
Passenger Nacy Orello, 34, was with her children aged 11 and 3, and wanted to get to her hometown in Pondol, Inabanga, Bohol.
She said she was desperate to go home after she failed to buy boat tickets because legitimate sea craft were fully-booked.
Orello said it was not the fault of the banca crew because the passengers, who managed to jump aboard refused to disembark despite the pleadings of the crew because they wanted to vote.
Commander Bibat said the motorboat has been impounded. The owner of the boat will be issued with two violations: for carrying passengers without proper authorization and for sailing without the clearance from the Coast Guard.
Ticket offices of Starcraft yesterday closed at 8 a.m. because the trips were already fully booked.
Bibat said the surge of passengers was really because of the election.
SOUTH BUS TERMINAL
Meanwhile, the management of Cebu South Bus Terminal (CSBT) struggled to handle thousands of passengers heading home to the southern part of the province for the elections.
Chona Quijano, CSBT officer-in-charge, said that from 6 a.m. Saturday to noon on Sunday the terminal had already accommodated more than 800,000 bus travelers.
She cited problems like the terminal’s limited capacity to accommodate more than 50 buses at a time and the lack of security guards to handle passengers queuing for tickets and waiting for their buses at the terminal.
Quijano said that they requested 30 security guards from GDS Security Agency and only 15 security guards arrived to handle the thousands of passengers heading to the south.
She, however, said that the situation was still manageable.
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