Coast Guard searching for 7 Pangasinan fishermen who went missing in West Philippine Sea

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is continuing search and rescue operations for seven fishermen who have been missing off the waters of Pangasinan in the West Philippine Sea for at least a week.

In its statement yesterday, the PCG disclosed that the missing fishermen were sailing along the coast of Dasol, Pangasinan on Jan. 6. They were supposed to fish for a week but failed to return to Infanta, Pangasinan on Jan. 14, at which point the owner of their fishing boat, Christine Macaraig, reported them missing.

The fishing boat, called the FB Narem 2, was helmed by Captain Alberto Roldan, and his crew was composed of fishermen Roderick Montemayor, Homar Maglantay, Ejay Dela Cruz, Jerome Maglantay, Larry Legaspi, and Jefferson Bernabe.

Macaraig said that before they vanished, she was able to communicate with FB Narem 2 via radio until Jan. 13, when the crew called in to say they had encountered a 13-foot wave some 60 nautical miles off Camaso Island (also known as Colibra), itself just a few miles from the coast of Dasol. The PCG reported that since the call, the crew has not informed anyone as to their whereabouts.

ABS-CBN News reports that in April 2019, the Narem 2 accompanied a news crew to the disputed Scarborough Shoal, where the fishing boat allegedly exposed Chinese fishermen’s hunt for the resource-rich waters’ clams.

“Wooden trawlers bearing the Chinese flag extracted giant clams while the Chinese Coast Guard allegedly drove Filipino fishermen away,” the report said.

Read: Chinese vessel sinks Philippine fishing boat in West Philippine Sea, abandons crew members

On Twitter today, the PCG posted a video of its aerial search for the missing fishermen. It has deployed a BN Islander plane to search the area between 60 and 90 nautical miles from Camaso Island.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has also deployed an offshore vessel, the BRP Lapu-Lapu to search for the missing fishermen.

The coast guard station in Pangasinan has also advised local fishermen to be on the lookout for the missing boat, and to “inform the nearest PCG unit about their location to render necessary assistance.”

Read: Filipinos trust China a lot less after West PH Sea boat sinking incident 

Fears among fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, already high amid aggressively enforced (and legally baseless) Chinese claims to the territory, spiked in June last year after a fishing boat sunk there after being hit by a Chinese vessel. The government’s response did little to put fears at ease, with President Rodrigo Duterte — who has taken pains to cozy up to the regional power — brushing off the incident as “just a collision of ships.”

This article, Coast Guard searching for 7 Pangasinan fishermen who went missing in West Philippine Sea, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!