With the 14 fishermen still missing, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Friday said they are now preparing charges against the operators of the Hong Kong-flagged cargo vessel.
In an interview, PCG Commandant Vice-Admiral George Ursabia Jr. said the investigation on the crew members of MV Vienna Woods is finished and their lawyers are getting sworn statements from the mariners who responded to the incident.
“We are filing a case, we are gathering evidence, kasama iyong mga sworn statements ng mga manginigisda,” Ursabia said.
Ursabia stressed that MV Vienna Woods is a large vessel that has a service or rescue boat. He also added that the standard operating procedure for mariners is to keep a safe distance in case of a maritime accident.
Initial investigation showed that the incident between the Liberty 5 (singco) fishing boat and the Chinese vessel in Occidental Mindoro waters occurred at around 10:40 p.m. on June 27. However, the offending vessel only reported to the coast guard through email about three hours after the incident.
Meanwhile, after three days of search and rescue operations for the 12 missing fishermen and two passengers aboard the fishing boat, the PCG will be shifting to search and retrieval operations.
“Apat na araw na po, medyo malabo na. Slim na ang chance na makita natin silang buhay, kaya retrieval na ang magiging punto namin in the next two days,” he said.
“After that, we will evaluate if there is a need to extend for two more days or we will terminate our efforts on this,” he added.