THE Philippine Coast Guard has identified the vessel that salvaged a ship in diving spot in Malapascua Island last week.
Lt. Commander Alvin Dagalea, PCG Cebu Station commander, told SunStar Cebu that based on their initial investigation, the ship that conducted the salvaging of the ill-fated MV Doña Marilyn was identified as MV Laut Lestari.
But aside from the name, Dagalea said they have no further information about the vessel.
Dagalea said his personnel wanted to reach the area to determine the damage it had caused the dive site.
But he said his personnel had a difficult time because of the strong waves brought about by Habagat.
Dagalea said they plan to file charges against the vessel for conducting salvaging operations without securing a permit from their office.
He also urged the local government unit of Daanbantayan to file charges against the boat owner for destroying a dive-site known for its biodiversity.
In an interview, Anna Oposa, executive director of Save Philippine Seas, said they were able to identify the vessel as an alleged wreck robber or a vessel that salvages old ship wrecks, particularly from World War 2, for profit.
Tirto.id, an Indonesian online news agency, identified the vessel as part of an alleged criminal ring of ships who are conducting illegal wreck robbing in old WW2 ships that sank in various areas in Southeast Asia.
The wreck robbing ships would retrieve old ships from the bottom of the sea and salvaged their parts for scrap iron, copper and phosphor bronze.
Oposa said they are contemplating filing of legal action against the owners of the ship.
Joselito “Boboi” Costas, Provincial Tourism Office head, said losing the wreck of the MV Doña Marilyn does not only mean a loss of biodiversity in Malapascua Island, but also a potential tourism site that could boost Daanbantayan’s local economy.
Costas said his office plans to look into the matter closely. (JKV)