The Philippine Navy (PN) rescued early yesterday morning 123 people, mostly students and teachers, aboard a stricken passenger boat off Burias Island in Masbate province.
Ensign Chibar Bullos, information officer of Naval Forces Southern Luzon (Navforsol), said passenger vessel "M/B Brian" experienced engine trouble at the vicinity of Cueva Point, Burias Island.
The vessel, which came from Claveria town also in Masbate, had 100 students, 18 teachers, and five crewmembers on board. The students and teachers were on their way to a Department of Education (DepEd) District meet at San Pascual town, Burias Island when the incident happened.
At around 1:20 a.m., the commanding officer of PN patrol gunboat BRP Simeon Castro (PG 374), Lt. (SG) Manuel S. Suba III received information about the vessel in distress. Thus, a search and rescue operation was immediately launched.
By 2:30 a.m., the M/B Brian was spotted at Cueva Point and was then towed to safety at the San Pascual Pier in Burias Island by the PN gunboat.
"The prompt response of our sailors aboard BRP Simeon Castro (PG 374) in the search and rescue operation saved the passengers and crew of M/B Brian. I commend the heroic deed of these sailors as it embodies the standards of Philippine Navy personnel," said Capt. Rommel Jason Galang, the Navforsol acting commander.
"Naval Forces Southern Luzon floating assets were strategically situated around the entire Southern Luzon area of responsibility for a prompt response as part of its proactive measures in amplifying the command's efforts in securing its maritime domain," Galang added.