LEGAZPI CITY (13-Mar-2013/PNA) – The more than 20 survivors and families of those killed in the sea tragedy in an Albay town last Friday were handed this week cash assistance by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Bicol.
Evelyn Jerusalem, DSWD-Bicol spokesperson, said that aside from the cash aid, the survivors were also subjected to de-briefing to help them recover faster from their traumatic experiences as a result of the accident.
Jerusalem said financial support was also given to the bereaved family of the boat captain and three passengers, including a 12-year-old girl, who died when their motorized banca, M/B John Ashvee, was smashed by big waves after its engine ran out of fuel off the coastal waters of Bacacay town.
Meanwhile, Captain Felipe Macababad, Coast Guard Bicol District deputy commander, cautioned residents residing in coastal and island villages not to ride in already capacity-loaded small sea vessels.
“We are really saddened by this incident. But this could have been avoided had the passengers not insisted on boarding the already-overloaded motorized boat. Please refrain from riding overloaded vessels,” Macababad said in a radio interview here.
He admitted that the Philippine Coast Guard does not have enough personnel to guard the long coastlines of Bicol, which is a peninsula.
Macababad also sought the help of the concerned barangay officials to help them in ensuring the safety of the inter-island passenger vessels.
“They (officials) are the ones who could best help in ensuring that the boat captains observe safe sailing since they are in the barangay level,” he added.
Late last year, the Maritime Industry Authority already banned sea vessels with out-triggers from plying their routes.
But despite this order, hundreds of sea crafts with out-triggers continue to ferry inter-island passengers and cargoes across the Bicol region.(PNA)