By Connie Calipay

MISSING FISHERS. The Office of Civil Defense in Bicol confirms on Sunday (July 16, 2023) that nine fishermen are missing off the waters of Mercedes town in Camarines Norte. Based on the situational report, the fishing boat experienced mechanical trouble after leaving the town’s port on Tuesday (July 11). (PNA photo by Connie Calipay)

LEGAZPI CITY – Nine fisherfolk went missing off the waters of Mercedes town in Camarines Norte, the Office of Civil Defense in Bicol (OCD-5) said Sunday.

Gremil Alexis Naz, OCD-Bicol spokesperson, said 10 left the Mercedes Fish Port on Tuesday and were expected to return home the following day.

However, the boat, FB Mutya, experienced mechanical trouble that hindered sailing back to the port.

“There are nine fishermen and a pilot onboard on fishing boat Mutya last July 11. After they had a mechanical problem, the pilot spotted a small motorboat that was passing by and was able to accommodate him back to Mercedes in order to seek rescue,” Naz said in an interview.

Upon learning of the incident, the owner of the boat conducted a rescue operation on board FB Marlon but unfortunately did not reach FB Mutya because of another technical problem.

They went back to Mercedes to get another boat but FB Mutya could not be located anymore.

Those missing were identified as Nazario Pardenas, Jay-ar Mocorro, Eric Torres, Armando Fajardo, Ricardo Murao, Rogelio Abines Jr, all residents of Barangay San Roque, Mercedes town; and Anthony Quirante, Edmund Parago and Jhun Calisay of Quezon province.

On July 15, the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office activated its Search and Rescue (SAR) team with the help of the Philippine Coast Guard, the pilot and the owner of the missing vessel using a “taksay” or big boat.

However, huge waves forced the SAR team to retreat to Mercedes.

Naz said they already requested an aerial search and rescue through the Tactical Operations Group-Bicol of the Philippine Air Force.

“Search and rescue operations will be carried out as the weather improves. Mercedes’ municipal social welfare development office issued two boxes of food packs for each family as initial assistance,” Naz said. (PNA)