By Raymund Antonio
The Philippine Coast Guard has launched a search for five fishermen who went fishing in the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea.
The Coast Guard said the five fishermen aboard motor banca “Antalan Tabat” sailed to Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Panatag Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, on November 21 to fish about 30 nautical miles from the shoal, but did not return after a week.
The missing fishermen, all residents of Sta Cruz, Zambales, were identified as:
- Jack Tabat, 44
- Jimmy Tabat, 44
- Jessie Aparreci, 29
- Bimbo Requinto, 21
- Allan Rivera, 19
Jereco Taneo, boat captain of F/Bca “Love Miles 2,” informed Coast Guard Sub-Station Sta. Cruz last Friday about the missing fishermen, saying he was with the five aboard their boat in the rich fishing ground and departed from the shoal at 6:00 p.m. on the same day.
While Taneo and his crew were returning to Sta. Cruz, Zambales, he told the PCG that the F/Bca Antalan Tabat “was left behind” in the shoal.
Taneo said they arrived in Sta. Cruz at 11:30 p.m. last November 21, but there was no sign of the other fishing boat.
PCG spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo said the BRP Tubbataha and PCG Islander have been deployed to conduct search and rescue operations to find the fishermen.
Balilo said they would also coordinate with the Chinese Coast Guard Action Center to inform them about the Filipino fishermen.
“We would seek for their cooperation. They also do the same if someone from them is missing,” he said.
The Coast Guard has also advised other Zambales fishers to be on the look out for the missing banca. It has also issued a notice to mariners for all vessels transiting in the area to assist in the search.