The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Friday announced the temporary suspension of all dragon boat race activities in the waters of Boracay following the death of seven paddlers when a dragon boat capsized early this week.
In a statement, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who also chairs the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), states that such activities are “postponed for the time being until emergency protocols are thoroughly scrutinized.”
Cimatu added that all agencies involved in emergency rescue and response are scheduled to meet on Monday, September 30 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of protocols, logistics, and resources, and to come up with recommendations to address gaps subject to the approval of the BIATF.
He also extended his condolences to the victims and their families and promised that emergency response programs will be strengthened in Boracay to prevent a similar incident in the future.
In a report, the seven fatalities — 4 men and 3 women, with two identified as husband and wife, were immediately declared dead-on-arrival while 14 others were able to survive and currently being treated in different clinics and hospitals in Malay.
Almost 300 meters away from Ligganay Resort, one of the survivors said that thru the rough waves, water started filling their boat until it eventually sank. He noted that some others were holding on to the boat yet due to the strong waves and currents, the boat rolled over making it unstable and displaced the paddlers.
The Dragon Force, considered to be one of the stronger boat paddlers in Boracay, was said to be practicing for their upcoming competition in Taiwan next month. And as a way to further strengthen their capabilities and strength in paddling, the team opted to not use life vests during the incident.
It was known that one of the fatalities, Richel Montuya, did not know how to swim.