PCG ends search and retrieval operation for 14 fishermen, passengers of fishing vessel
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Commandant Vice Admiral George Ursabia Jr. announced on Wednesday the termination of search and retrieval operation for the missing passengers and fishermen of fishing vessel Liberty 5.
"We terminated the full search and retrieval operations effective yesterday afternoon, but our monitoring continues," Ursabia said in his meeting with representatives from the Ima Fishing and Trading Inc. and families of the missing passengers and fishermen on Wednesday morning.
The Hong Kong registered ship Vienna Woods collided with Liberty 5 off Occidental Mindoro on the evening of June 27.
"We have personnel who were permanently deployed in Occidental Mindoro. We also have personnel in nearby towns who are still patrolling to monitor them, because there is also a possibility that they were drifted in the shoreline," he said.
Ursabia said the PCG will not declare the missing dead dead as there is still a possibility they have survived.
"For now, we haven't found any body, but we cannot declare them dead. There is still a possibility that they are still alive. We all believe in God. It is too early to say that they are dead, that is why what we can say is that they are still missing," he said.
Ursabia said the PCG has filed criminal charges against the shipping company, masters and officers of MV Vienna Woods and assures that a hold departure order against its crew will also be issued within the week.
"We have already filed cases against the bulk carrier. Don't worry because the PCG is here to pursue that. From time to time, we will provide updates about the continues patrol operation and on the development of the case. We will not let go of this case even if it last for a long time," he said.
"Yesterday we already filed a motion to prevent the crew of MV Vienna Woods from returning to China, especially those who were charged," Ursabia said.
"This week, we will also be issuing a hold departure order against them (crew of MV Vienna Woods) because we want them to place under the Philippine custody. We in the PCG especially our lawyers are doing our best for this (case)," he added.
Ursabia also assures that the PCG will also help the families of the victims in filing civil case against the crew of MV Vienna Woods.
"We will help you (Irma Fishing and Trading Inc. and affected families) on the of filing civil case. You can use the criminal case that we have filed in filing your case," he said.
Ursabia also emphasized that the Philippines has a full jurisdiction over the case as the sea mishap occured within the territorial waters of the country.
''There is no pressure from China to interfere with the case. It is clear that we have full jurisdiction over the case because the incident happened within our sea," he said.
Ursabia belied reports that some of the missing fishermen are inside the cargo ship.
"We have searched the whole facility of MV Vienna Woods. The reports that some of the missing victims were inside the ship is not true," he said. Robina Asido/DMS