By Hilda Austria

HERO. The La Union provincial government honors Philippine Coast Guard Petty Officer Third Class Ponciano dela Cruz Nisperos Jr. who died during a search and rescue operation in a river in Tubao town, La Union on Tuesday (Sept. 5,2023). The officer was part of the team dispatched to search and rescue a 10-year-old boy who went missing and allegedly drowned in the river. (Photo courtesy of Provincial Government of La Union)

MALASIQUI, Pangasinan – A Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel drowned during a search and rescue operations in Tubao town, La Union on Tuesday.

PCG Civil Relations Group North Western Luzon Commander ENS Ivhanne Rillon, in a phone interview on Wednesday, identified the personnel as Petty Officer Third Class Ponciano dela Cruz Nisperos Jr., 33, of San Fernando City, La Union, and has been in the service for nine years.

“We are grieving his loss. This is the first time in the Ilocos Region unit that we have lost a colleague during an operation,” he said.

Rillon added that they are now preparing the assistance to be given to the bereaved family of Nisperos.

He was survived by his wife and his 4-year-old daughter.

The provincial government of La Union also honored the heroism of Nisperos.

“La Union is one with his family in mourning his untimely demise as we honor his bravery and commitment to saving lives,” the provincial government said on Facebook.

Rillon said the search and rescue operation was launched Tuesday following reports from the Tubao town regarding a missing 10-year-old boy.

“Nag-dispatch kami 13 PCG personnel para tumulong sa nawawalang bata na umano’y nalunod sa Sitio Daeng Barangay Halog East. Nag-conduct po ng river cross para magsilbing safety line sa mga tatawid sa ilog (We dispatched 13 PCG personnel to help in the search and rescue of a missing child who allegedly drowned at Sitio Daeng Barangay Halog East. They were conducting a river cross to serve as a safety line for those who will traverse the river),” he said.

“Malapit na siya sa destination sa kabilang ilog nang umapak at nadulas at naagos ng current at hinigop pailalim ng tubig (Nisperos was near the destination on the other side of the river when he lost his footing, slipped and was carried by strong water current and was sucked in by the water),” he added.

Nisperos was pulled out of the water after around three minutes but was unconscious and had no pulse. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but was declared dead on arrival, Rillon said.

Rillon said the river was rocky and water currents were strong due to the bad weather at the time.

He said the local chief executive has ended the search and rescue operations for the missing boy due to bad weather. (PNA)