THE captain and five crew members of the banca that capsized last Friday night while on its way to Pasil, Cebu City from Bohol were detained.
Charges will be filed against them today, a Coast Guard official said.
Even if the vessel, the M/B Mansan, is repaired, it cannot operate yet while investigators verify its operator and crew’s alleged violations of maritime law, said Commodore Enrico Evangelista. Evangelista is chief of the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) Central Visayas Command.
Meanwhile, at least 2,313 passengers were stranded after the PCG prevented the departure of 42 passenger vessels, 33 motor bancas and 36 rolling cargo ships as of 4 p.m. yesterday.
“We accommodated the stranded passengers at our terminals where they are always safe,” said Deputy General Manager Yusoph Uckung of the Cebu Port Authority (CPA).
Of the 2,313 stranded passengers, 199 were stranded at Terminal 1 in Pier 1 and Terminal 2 in Pier 3, after the Coast Guard prevented the Oceanjet and Supercat fastcraft from leaving port.
Although typhoon Lando did not directly threaten the Visayas, the weather bureau had warned about huge waves off the Visayan seaboard.
General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said that some international flights were delayed not because of Lando but operational reasons.
Estee Marie Plunket of the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), for her part, said that only two flights, one for Surigao City and another one for Camiguin, were cancelled but there were no stranded passengers.
Investigators have yet to confirm what caused the M/B Mansan to capsize last Friday night. One of the witnesses has said that large waves broke one of its outriggers and caused water to enter the vessel, until it capsized.
“The boat captain (Norberto Aparice, 41) and crew are behind bars at this time,” read Evangelista’s text message to Sun.Star Cebu.
Evangelista said that because they lacked a detention cell, the Cebu Coast Guard Station requested the Waterfront Police Station of the PNP near Pier 1 to take custody of the boat captain and crew.
Evangelista also said that the banca owner, Nolito Abapo, will be included in the criminal charge in court for sailing at night, when this was not allowed.
Evangelista said that the motor boat was not registered with the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
But in an interview in their detention cell, Aparice said they should not be included in the charges because they were just following the orders of the banca’s owner to travel to Pasil, Cebu City.
Also detained with Aparice were Allan Abapo, 46; Bernie Torion, 23; Antonio Cabantugan, 43; Joseph Simacon, 25; and Josehua Abapo, 23.
Interviewed separately, Marina Administrator Maximo Mejia said they are working together with the Coast Guard on this incident.
“The illegal operations of these motor bancas carrying passengers should be stopped,” said lawyer Jose Cabatingan, Marina 7 legal officer. Since the incident happened during the weekend, he has yet to see initial reports.
Marina 7 Director Nanette Villamor-Dinopol said her office has conducted an initial investigation and they will determine today the extent of violations its owners and crew committed.
Meanwhile, Abner Llenos, operations manager of Trans Asia Shipping Lines, said that Mv Trans Asia 9 suffered “minor” engine trouble while on the way to Cagayan de Oro City from Cebu City.
One of Sun.Star Cebu’s page editors, Januar E. Yap, was on board the M/V Trans Asia 9 bound the other day when its arrival was delayed for several hours because it suffered engine trouble somewhere in the vicinity of Camiguin and Sulawi Islands at 3:40 a.m. last Saturday.
“Trans Asia 9 is okay. It departed Cagayan de Oro at 8 p.m. the other day back to go back to Cebu City as scheduled. It was only a minor technical problem,” Llenos said.