Survivor forgives PCG a year after Guimaras-Iloilo sea tragedy

Published August 3, 2020, 2:36 PM

by Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY—A year after 31 people died when three passenger boats capsized along the waters separating the island province of Guimaras and Iloilo City, a survivor of the sea tragedy has forgiven the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for the alleged botched incident response.

M/B Jenny Vince is one of the three ill-fated passenger boats that capsized last August 3, 2019 along the waters separating Guimaras island and Iloilo City. The sea tragedy killed 31 people. (Tara Yap/File/Manila Bulletin)

“I had to let go of my anger. Time will come they [PCG personnel] will realize their shortcomings and know what they did wrong,” said Rocill Garcia Reaponso in Hiligaynon.

“Only God knows what happened that day,” Reaponso told Manila Bulletin.

Reaponso was a passenger on the ill-fated M/B Jenny Vince, which was the third passenger boat that was capsized by a squall, or “pugada”, sudden strong winds and waves emerged along Iloilo Strait last August 3, 2019.

Twenty of the 31 persons, who died that day, were passengers of M/B Jenny Vince.

The 33-year-old single mother from San Lorenzo town, Guimaras province can still remember how her fellow passengers were screaming for help as they were trapped between the boat’s wooden hull and the enclosed tarpaulin roof.

She recalled how PCG personnel, who responded to the incident site, only stood by on their patrol boat, and watched as M/B Jenny Vince was swept away by the strong current.  The passenger boat was found the day after in the coastal town of Dumangas, where more than 10 lifeless bodies were recovered.

Reaponso was previously one of the vocal critics of PCG.

Not only did PCG come under fire for the botched rescue operation of M/B Jenny Vince, but it was also criticized for allowing M/B Jenny Vince to sail that afternoon while search and rescue operations were still ongoing for M/B Chi-Chi and M/B Keziah 2, which capsized two hours earlier.

Reaponso, who was rescued by a fellow passenger, said she recently had a nightmare and felt that she was drowning. But she said she didn’t want to dwell on the incident, especially with the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Meanwhile, Reaponso attended a mass in Buenavista town Monday, August 3.  There was also another separate mass in Jordan town that was attended by officials, including Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin.