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Marina suspends operations of passenger motorboats along Iloilo-Guimaras route; Iloilo-Guimaras safe harbor turns deadly: Sea mishap death toll nears 30

Marina suspends operations of passenger motorboats along Iloilo-Guimaras route
August 05, 2019
The Maritime Industry Authority has directed roll-on roll-off or RO-RO vessels to increase the frequency of their trips to serve passengers in the area

MANILA, Philippines – The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) has suspended operations of all passenger motor bancas along the Iloilo-Guimaras route, pending review and assessment of the vessels' safety conditions.

The announcement comes days after multiple boat accidents in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait led to the death of at least 31 people.

Ruling out collision and overloading of passengers as causes of the accident, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Sunday, August 4, said "squalls" or sudden strong gusts of wind at sea sunk passenger motorboats M/B Chi-chi, M/B Keziah 2, and M/B Jenny Vince.

In a statement Monday, August 5, Marina said it had directed two roll-on roll-off (RO-RO) vessels to increase the frequency of their trips along the Iloilo-Guimaras route to cater to the transportation needs of passengers in the affected area.

Marina has begun its investigation into the multiple boat accidents, sending an investigation team to the area on Monday to monitor the search and rescue operations.

Marina's regional office in Iloilo City has also created a help desk to coordinate with the local government, the PCG, and the Philippine Ports Authority.

"The Marina continues to remind operators to ensure maritime safety at all times by observing the latest weather forecast, conducting proper risk assessment, and applying control measures, as needed,” the agency said in the statement. –

Iloilo-Guimaras safe harbor turns deadly: Sea mishap death toll nears 30
Tara Yap August 5, 2019

The August 3 sea tragedy illustrated how Iloilo Strait, which separates Iloilo City and neighboring coastal towns from the island province of Guimaras, has become a treacherous body of water that killed almost 30 people.

Disaster officials Monday confirmed that fatalities have climbed to 28 while six others remain missing when three passenger boats capsized Saturday along the body of water that has previously been known as a safe harbor for vessels during stormy weather.

Among the casualties were Romeo Baguio Jr., his three-year-old son Jay Arven, his mother, and six others. They came to the island of Guimaras from Cebu that day as Romeo asked the blessings of the family of his would-have-been bride Maria Nieves Grandeza. But tragedy struck hours after when they boarded passenger boat Jenny Vince, which was on its way to Iloilo City from the wharf in Buenavista town when it encountered a pugada (squall) that flipped over the boat. Only Maria survived while the rest died.

Eight teachers also perished while riding the same passenger boat. Five of them were teachers from Iloilo province while three were teachers working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but were only in the country for vacation.

The squall, or the sudden emergence of strong wind and rain, also caused the ill-fated trips of passenger boats Chi-Chi and Keziah 2 just two hours earlier.

The August 3 incident was not the first major maritime incident along the Iloilo Strait. Passenger boat Tawash also capsized and killed nine people including the boat captain in October 2015 while a cargo ship sank in February 2015.

Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin is urging for the review of the design of passenger boats. He recalled Monday that fatal accidents were rare when he was younger as passenger boats had a different design and were more stable.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) joined Monday the search and retrieval operations for the six missing people. It included a boat from the Philippine Navy, a helicopter by the Philippine Air Force and personnel from the Philippine Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (3ID).