By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Four lawyers from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) have arrived in Negros Occidental over the weekend to assist the family of a fisherman who was killed off the coast of Escalante City when a roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessel rammed his small fishing boat last week.
Captain Eduardo De Luna, PCG-Southern Visayas director, said the lawyers arrived alongside the group requested by PCG-Negros Occidental chief, Lt. Commander Jansen Benjamin, who will be part of the Maritime Casualty Investigation team.
De Luna, said the lawyers will serve as consultants to the bereaved family of Je-ar Caspe.
“Since Caspe’s family are deep in poverty and are unable to afford a lawyer, we will help them in order to protect their rights,” De Luna said.
He said he made the request directly to PCG commandant, Admiral George Ursabia Jr., who immediately made the approval.
Based on information obtained by Watchmen Daily Journal, it was found that only one shipping company is serving out of the Sagay City port and is operating RoRo services between the city and the town of Tabuelan in Cebu.
The PCG district director, however, requested that it not be named yet due to the ongoing investigation.
De Luna also pointed out based on the initial findings made by investigators from the PCG sub-station in Escalante City, they have already found probable cause to hold the company liable for the incident.
He said they are gathering further evidence on the incident, and it will be up to the Maritime Casualty Investigation team to finish the rest of the investigation before being forwarded to the court.
Meanwhile, to address the repeated sea mishaps involving shipping companies and fishermen in the southern Visayas district, De Luna said they are planning to conduct an educational campaign and forums to fishermen in the region, teaching them basics in maritime navigation and safety.
They will also start requiring fishermen in the region to have their boats well-lighted in order for them to be easily identifiable to other vessels.
“Some of the fishermen in the region are not even trained to read the running lights of the vessels,” he said.
Studies will also be conducted to see if installing more buoys off the coast of Negros will help both fishermen and other vessels plying the seas in the region to identify the busy shipping lanes./DGB, WDJ