Missing teenager at sea found dead at coastal village of Lanao del Norte
LINAMON, Lanao del Norte –– The body of a teenager earlier declared missing was found on Wednesday at the sea bottom off Purok 4 of the coastal village of Baroy Dako in Baroy town, hours after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ended its search-and-rescue operation on Tuesday.
Francis Aguilar, 16, was declared missing on Tuesday after the PCG rescue team failed to locate him at sea, where he and his companion Jun Rey Sanson, 17, reportedly went out for a swim.
Brothers Richard and Peter Lawrence Legaspi, Purok 4 residents, who joined the search, told the Inquirer that 58-year-old fisherman Elmer Gastanes found Aguilar’s body face down at the bottom of the sea, where the teenager was believed to have drowned the previous day.
“The seawater was calm and clear this morning when fisherman Elmer Gastanes found the (shirtless) body, with yellow short pants at the site where he drowned,” Legaspi said in a text message to the Inquirer after the body was found at 8 a.m.
Legaspi said except for his nose, which had the mark of bleeding, Aguilar’s body had no injury and was not bloated yet.
Sanson told the PCG that he and Aguilar were in a motorized boat about 100 meters away from the shore around 2 p.m. on Sunday, when he noticed that the boat, which was supposed to be at anchor, was slowly drifting away, according to Roger Guiam, Petty Officer II of PCG in Tubod town.
The teenager said he jumped off the boat to re-position it and fix its anchor, but while doing so, Aguilar, who feared he would be carried away with the drifting boat, also jumped off.
Sanson said Aguilar did not know how to swim and had called him for help. He managed to maneuver and reached Aguilar, whom he brought to where the water was only up to shoulder level.
He asked Aguilar if he, Aguilar, could already manage to walk on his own to shore, and when Aguilar said yes, Sanson went back to fix the drifting boat.
But when he looked back again, Aguilar was no longer in sight.
Guiam said Sanson immediately sought help from the fisherfolk and civilians along the shore.
At least 40 volunteers joined the search-and-rescue operation conducted by the town’s rescue teams and the maritime police.
“We terminated the search-and-rescue operation at 5:15 p.m. (of Tuesday) and resumed the wider dive, search-and-retrieval operations on January 20,” Guiam said.
Legaspi said more fisherfolk volunteers joined the search for the missing teenager as early as 6 a.m. while waiting for the PCG and PCGA from Iligan City and Linamon town to arrive.
The retrieval team brought Aguilar’s body to a funeral house.
Earlier, the provincial government issued guidelines and health protocol that disallowed non-residents of the province, especially minors, to go swimming on the beach.
The provincial government also does not allow beach resorts to operate unless they secured approval from the province’s Incident Management Team.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.