Metro Manila, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Pangasinan on Thursday said the foreign vessel that rammed a Filipino boat and killed three fishermen near Bajo de Masinloc in the West Philippine Sea on Oct. 2 violated two international regulations.
“It is mandated by convention na kung ano ‘yung pinakamalapit na barko, regardless kung sila ‘yung nakasagasa o hindi nakasagasa, sila ‘yung unang magreresponde at ire-rescue itong mga distressed persons sa pangyayari. Ito lang ‘yung initial na nakikita natin na violation nung barko,” PCG Pangasinan station commander Alex Corpuz told CNN Philippines’ The Source
[Translation: It is mandated by convention that whatever ship is nearest, regardless of whether it was the one who rammed or not, it must be the first to respond and rescue distressed persons. This is the initial violation we are seeing.]
He was referring to Regulation 33 under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, which states that any ship that is able to provide assistance after receiving a distress signal shall proceed “with all speed to their assistance, if possible informing them or the search and rescue service that the ship is doing so.”
Initial investigation showed that the Filipino fishermen left Subic on Sept. 26 and arrived at the area where the incident happened on Sept. 30, Corpuz said.
The PCG earlier reported that Filipino fishing boat Dearyn was moored to a payao, or an anchored fish float, for fishing northwest of Bajo de Masinloc when it was hit by a commercial vessel at 4:20 a.m. on Oct. 2, killing three fishermen.
The PCG said it appeared that it was oil tanker Pacific Anna, registered in the Marshall Islands, that allegedly rammed the Filipino fishing boat.
The 11 fishermen who survived the incident said they used their small service boats to transport the bodies of their fallen companions to Infanta, Pangasinan.
Corpuz said it appeared there was no attempt to conduct search and rescue operations on the part of the foreign vessel.
Initial investigation also showed that the Filipinos’ watercraft had its lights on, he added.
Corpuz, who was a former seafarer, pointed out that the owner or crew of the foreign vessel cannot simply say it did not spot the Filipino fishing boat as navigators should maintain proper lookout regardless of the circumstances.
He cited Rule 2 of the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea that states “Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.”
Corpuz said local authorities will forward their findings to the PCG headquarters for another investigation.
Once the owner of the foreign vessel is determined, the Department of Foreign Affairs will be tapped to negotiate on its liability, he added.