BOHOL, Philippines -- The boatmen, who took three German scuba divers to the seawaters off Anda peninsula, were blamed for negligence that caused the near fatal accident of the tourists who were billeted in a resort in Anda town.
Philippine Coast Guard Commander William Isaga bared that he was following up investigations based on statements claiming that the boatmen left the area where the divers were dropped off for an early morning dive last Dec. 1.
"The boatmen clearly committed negligence after they could no longer find the divers after two hours." Isaga said.
The statement of the PCG official was issued during a joint investigation conducted yesterday by the committee on tourism of the provincial lawmaking body and the Provincial Tourism Council (PTC).
Board member Corazon Galbreath, PTC co-chair (government sector), presided over the committee hearing in which she invited dive shop owners in Anda and Panglao together with dive experts who coordinated in the search and rescue operations for the three German divers.
Isaga told the committee that he would verify reports on the alleged gross negligence of the boatmen, citing that boatmen handling tourists/divers should be properly trained.
Holger Kloepper, dive master of Abyss Divers/Flower Beach Resort who was one of the survivors, narrated on their 28-hour ordeal at sea that they were "not worried on what will happen to them but, more on what they will do to the captain" of the dive boat that brought them to mid-sea for their dive.
The claim of the Coast Guard official was affirmed by Harald Mittrich, a German national who coordinated in the rescue operations.
Galbreath requested Provincial Tourism Officer Baby Balio to include other dive shop owners during the next assembly of the PTC to further discuss the issue.
The committee investigation has revealed that majority of the dive boats in the province are not equipped with hand-held radio, a basic food for distress calls.
Engineer Dennis Rocamora of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) who was invited to attend the meeting said that it is a legal requirement for all pump boats and sea vessels to have hand-held radio.
Rocamora said the PCG is automatically deputized to implement the installation of hand-held radio on sea vessels since the local Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) is short of manpower to impose it.
The local MARINA's personnel is composed only of two personnel while the PCG has 35 in the entire province.
Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.