A group of fisherfolk on Friday urged the Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Marines to expedite the search and rescue operations for the seven Filipino fishermen who went missing during a fishing expedition in West Philippine Sea last week.
The victims’ fishing vessel FB Narem made its last contact on the islands of Dasol and Camaso, Pangasinan last Jan. 13 in the afternoon, according to the owner of the vessel.
Aboard the boat were its captain Alberto Roldan and crew members Roderick Montemayor, Homar Maglantay, Ejay Dela Cruz, Jerome Maglantay, Larry Legaspi and Jefferson Bernabe.
In a statement, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said the PCG and Marines must “exert all possible efforts” to find the missing fishermen.
“Authorities must expedite their search and rescue operations to get the missing fishermen back at their respective families,” said Hicap.
The group also demanded the government provide aid to the families of the missing fishermen as they are left with no household incomes due to the incident.
“We appeal to the government to provide relief for the victims’ families, as the fate of their loved ones are still uncertain,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Party-list solon added.
The group lamented that “Scarborough Shoal could have offered safety for the fishermen even in turbulent weather.”
“The victims could have optioned to seek refuge at the lagoon if not for the presence of Chinese vessels that are preventing our poor fishers from entering the safe harbor,” Hicap asserted.
The lagoon located inside the Scarborough Shoal used to be the traditional safe harbor for Filipino fishermen due to its calm condition amid turbulent weather. It has been occupied by at least four Chinese vessels, as reported by the oil tanker Green Aura, which was warned to keep 10-nautical miles away from Scarborough Shoal late last year.
“Chinese control of Scarborough Shoal is a strategic loss to Filipino fishermen, and now it spells disaster for those caught by big waves,” he claimed.
Ultimately, the group pressed the Duterte administration to retake control of the shoal in the name of national sovereignty, aside from the advantage it offers to fishermen.