4 missing Pangasinan fishermen rescued

>> Monday, November 20, 2023

By Gabriel Cardinoza

INFANTA, Pangasinan -- The four fishermen from this town who were earlier reported missing have been rescued by fellow fishermen in the waters off Candelaria town in Zambales province at around noon on Thursday, Nov. 16, an official of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.
    Commander Alexander Corpuz, PCG Pangasinan station commander, said the four fishermen were ferried to Infanta by the Candelaria Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) and turned over to the town officials here at about 2 p.m. Thursday.
    The rescued fishermen were identified as boat skipper Edgar Bejar, 44, and Jake Bejar, 19, of Barangay Cato; Melchor Molato, 26, of Barangay Bayambang and Arnel Awanan, 46, of Barangay Batang.
    "They are all accounted for. They are healthy and they are now resting in their respective homes with their families," said Corpuz in a telephone interview.
    On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the PCG scoured the West Philippine Sea (WPS) off the provinces of Pangasinan, La Union, and Ilocos Sur to search for the fishermen, who were reported missing on Tuesday, November 14.
    Allan Rey de la Cruz, head of this town's DRRMO, said they had requested the aerial search after receiving reports that the missing fishermen's boat was seen anchored in the waters off La Union on Wednesday night.
    The four fishermen left the shore of Cato aboard their fishing boat FB Pepito 3 on November 9 to fish at the WPS about 70 nautical miles west of this town.
    "They were expected to return to Cato on November 12 but they did not make it," said de la Cruz in a telephone interview.
    Aside from aerial search, de la Cruz said the town government here also launched a seaborne search and rescue operation using two big private fishing boats.
    The PCG had also alerted commercial fishing boats in the vicinity about the missing fishermen.
    De la Cruz said the fishermen may have encountered rough seas and strong winds spawned by the northeast monsoon on their way home on November 11.
    On that day, he added, the PCG radioed all fishing boats at sea to sail home because of the monsoon winds locally known as "nortada" or northern wind.
    "All the other boats were able to return to the shore that day, except them," de la Cruz said.
    Corpuz said that the fishermen's boat's engine may have conked out and the fishing boat drifted towards Zambales.
    This was not the first time for fishermen here to encounter a nortada.
    In December 2006, at least 70 fishermen from this town were reported missing after their boats were swept by strong winds and giant waves spawned by the nortada.
    Some of them were rescued hours later, while others managed to paddle to seek refuge at the Scarborough Shoal.
    This unpredictable weather phenomenon usually takes place in these waters between the months of November and February.


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