AN OFF-duty coast guard officer from Bohol became an angel to his fellow passengers—he made sure they were all safe after the fastcraft carrying them sank in the waters off Sibonga town, southern Cebu on Thursday morning, Nov. 7, 2019.
He was also the last person to jump out of the troubled boat.
Mv Siargao Princess passenger Ernie Gelbolingo, an architect, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ralph Barajan calmed everyone.
“Kon di pa niya, di mi maluwas (If not for him, we would not be saved),” he told radio dyLA.
Barajan, who is assigned at the Coast Guard Station Southern Cebu (CGSSC), instructed his fellow passengers on when was the right time to jump into the sea.
“He placed the children and the elderly people in the life raft,” said Gelbolingo, an Argao native.
Barajan said he made sure no one would be left behind at the boat.
No one died in the sea mishap. The Philippine Coast Guard 7 said 55 passengers and the fastcraft’s seven crew members were all safe.
Based on initial reports released by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) 7, the vessel left Loon town, Bohol at 9:30 a.m. on the same day, carrying 55 passengers and seven crew members.
The boat’s maiden voyage happened last October, and it has a capacity of 120 persons.
PCG officer’s heroics
Several passengers said Barajan gave them instructions on what to do while the boat was sinking. They said the officer helped them not to panic.
PCG 7 spokesperson LTJG Michael John Encina said Barajan’s actions helped make the rescue operation fast and easy.
The state weather bureau did not issue a gale warning on Thursday. If Cebu Province is placed under such warning, boats with 250 gross tonnage and below are not allowed to sail.
At 11:15 a.m., the CGSSC received information that mv Siargao Princess sank after it was hit by big waves approximately three to five nautical miles off Sibonga.
Encina said the coast guard personnel aboard BRP Suluan rescued mv Siargao Princess’s passengers and crew.
Three passengers, who swam to a nearby coast, were brought to a hospital in Carcar City.
The PCG 7 will conduct an investigation on the incident through its Board of Marine Inquiry.
Mv Siargao Princess Captain Antonio Conag was advised to submit his marine protest—a notarized statement obtained after a ship enters port after a rough voyage—to the Maritime Authority Industry 7.
The boat is reportedly owned by Virgin Island Princess Shipping.
The rescue efforts were participated by the personnel of the Coast Guard Special Operations Group, including divers and a medical team.
Encina said they also coordinated with the disaster teams in southern Cebu municipalities to help them.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command deployed a helicopter to conduct an aerial survey and spot the passengers. FROM HBL OF SUPERBALITA CEBU / JGS / KAL