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Iloilo City council to conduct separate probe on sea tragedy

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Emergency response teams and local boat operators undertake rescue operations off the Parola Wharf in Iloilo City on August 3 after three boats capsized at the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait amid rains and big waves. -- BW/EMME ROSE S. SANTIAGUDO

THE ILOILO City council will conduct its own inquiry “in aid of legislation” on the Aug. 3 sea tragedy where three pumpboats capsized and 31 people died. “Questions have been raised as to why the pumpboats were allowed to set sail, particularly the MB Jenny Vince, which was allowed to take in passengers a mere matter of hours after two pumpboats have already been sunk by squalls,” said Councilor Ely A. Estante Jr., proponent of the resolution calling for the probe. “Observations were also made about the apparent inability of the PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) to conduct (immediate) rescue operations,” the councilor said. Meanwhile, four PCG officials and two from the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) in Western Visayas have been relieved from their posts while a PCG-Marina joint investigation is ongoing. Transportation Secretary Arthur P. Tugade, who was in Iloilo and Guimaras Wednesday, said the PCG station commanders, Commodore Perlita Cinco for Iloilo) and Commodore Joe Luviz Mercurio for Guimaras, alongside two of their duty officers have been relieved. “Pending the result of the investigation, they have been relieved alongside Marina Regional Director for Western Visayas, Rizal Victoria, and another franchising officer of Marina,” Mr. Tugade said. PCG Region 6 commander Commodore Allan Victor T. Dela Vega, meanwhile, stressed that the relief order is part of the procedure pending the result of the investigation. “It’s not conclusive that they are guilty,” he said. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo

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