By Freddie Lazaro
SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – Operatives of the Naval Forces Northern Luzon (NFNL) of the Philippine Navy and other agencies have continued search and rescue operations for the seven Pangasinan fishermen who were reported missing in the West Philippine Sea.
Marine Captain Jojit Ofiaza, the spokesperson of the NFNL, said on Saturday that the family members of the seven missing fishermen from Pangasinan have joined the search and rescue operations.
Patrol Craft 388 departed from Sual, Pangasinan at 8 a.m. on Friday, carrying five family members of the missing fishermen and owners of the motorized boat they boarded along with the NFNL rescue team as the search continues.
The family members are still hoping that their missing loves ones are still alive.
The NFNL operatives halted temporarily the search operation at 7 p.m. on January 21 due to unfavorable sea condition but the operation was resumed the following day.
Navy Captain Edward Ike M. De Sagon, the commander of NFNL Task Force 11, had instructed the 1st Patrol Boat (PB) Division to utilize PC388 (Patrol Craft), PB322 and PB352 (Patrol Boat) for the search and rescue operation.
The 1st PB Division, under the command of Commander Agelito M. Diaz, conducted operations within the vicinity of 25.2 nautical miles south west off Capones Island, Zambales and 11.8 nautical miles off Cape Bolinao, Pangasinan.
During the search, crew members onboard a motorized boat “Queen Bernadette” said they have spotted some debris of fishing boat with marking “Montanas” scattered northwest of Silaqui Island Bolinao, Pangasinan few days ago.
Initial reports disclosed that the seven missing fishermen were aboard fishing vessel FB NAREM 2 when it ventured out to sea on January 6.
However, they failed to return in Infanta, Pangasinan on January 14, as reported by the owner of the fishing banca, Christine Macaraig.
The boat’s crew members were identified as Captain Alberto Roldan, Roderick Montemayor, Homar Maglantay, Ejay Dela Cruz, Jerome Maglantay, Larry Legaspi, and Jefferson Bernabe. Macaraig claimed she was able to reach FB NAREM 2 through radio communication last January 13.
She was informed that the crew encountered big waves. However, she has not been able to receive any further information on their situation and whereabouts since then. The boat’s last reported location was at 60 nautical miles off Camaso Island in Dasol, Pangasinan.
In a statement on Wednesday, Commodore Caesar Bernard Valencia, the NFNL commander and also the head of Task Force (TF) Karagatan, said he had coordinated the dispatch of all available naval and air assets and personnel nearest to the area to conduct search and rescue operation and maritime aerial surveillance since January 17.“The Navy will provide all necessary assets to look for our missing fishermen. As much as we can, your Navy will provide all the required assistance,” said Valencia.