By Tara Yap
ILOILO CITY – Following the tragic maritime incident last August 3 that claimed the lives of 31 boat passengers, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has named new commanders in its stations in Iloilo and Guimaras provinces.
Commodore Allan Dela Vega, PCG commander for Western Visayas region, confirmed to the Manila Bulletin that Captain Erlinda Beliro and Lieutenant Commander Jose Jacinto were appointed as the new PCG commanders for Iloilo and Guimaras respectively.
Beliro replaced Commander Perlita Cinco, while Jacinto replaced Lieutenant Commander Joe Luviz Mercurio.
Both Cinco and Mercurio were sacked from their posts Wednesday by Secretary Arthur Tugade of Department of Transportation (DOTr).
To recall, three passenger boats capsized along the body of water separating Iloilo City and neighboring coastal towns from the island of Guimaras last August 3.
The short boat ride along the Iloilo Strait, which usually takes only 15 minutes in good weather, turned deadly when it encountered a pugada (squall), which is the sudden emergence of strong winds and rains.
The first incident involved passenger boats M/B Chi-Chi and M/B Keziah 2, which flipped over past 12 noon of that day. M/B Jenny Vince also flipped over two hours later.
The PCG has drawn heavy criticism after it reportedly allowed M/B Jenny Vince to sail from Buenavista town in Guimaras province to Iloilo City past 3 p.m. when there was already an ongoing search and rescue operations for the two previous boats that capsized two hours earlier.
Because of the capsizing of M/B Jenny Vince, the death toll rose to 31 from 11. The majority of the deaths came from M/B Jenny Vince with 20 dead.
Meanwhile, the PCG in Western Visayas region is on their toes.
“I reiterated the order that we have to be on alert,” Dela Vega added.
He refused to comment on the ongoing probe on the deadly incident.