5 Coast Guard men sacked over sinking
ORMOC CITY—Five officials and personnel of the Philippine Coast Guard unit in the city have been relieved as investigation began into their liability for allowing the ill-fated MB Kim Nirvana to sail even if the boat was overloaded with passengers last week.
Capt. Pedro Tinampay was removed from his post as district commander of the Coast Guard in Eastern Visayas on Tuesday and was transferred to the Coast Guard station in Manila. Also relieved were Lt. Adonis Añasco, Ormoc station commander; PO3 Leo Roble, chief of the boarding team; and Jonas Sabado and Fidel Blanco, clearing officers.
Consolidated data from the city government, Philippine National Police, Philippine Red Cross and Coast Guard showed that 220 passengers were on board when the Nirvana departed from the city wharf on July 3 for Pilar town on Camotes Island in Cebu province. The number was more than the 178 passenger capacity of the vessel.
Of the 220, 62 drowned when the boat sank minutes after leaving the pier.
Cargo manifest also showed that 100 sacks of cement and 50 sacks of rice were loaded on the two-decked, wooden vessel.
On Tuesday, the boat captain, identified as Warren Oliverio, said “big waves” caused the boat to overturn on the Ormoc Bay.
Oliverio and his 18 crewmen, and boat owner Jorge Bung Zarco are facing a multiple murder complaint filed by police at the City Prosecutor’s Office. They have been detained at the Ormoc Police Station 1.
Tinampay acknowledged as “excess” in the number of passengers on board the Nirvana. But he would not say if the vessel was overloaded, pointing out that it was the task of a master mariner or architect to determine the weight of the banca, engine and cargo.
He said he was confident that he would not be held liable for the sea tragedy because “there is a station commander in command before me,” apparently referring to Añasco. If his men committed some violations, they would be held accountable, he added.
“I am between the strategic office in national and tactical office here,” Tinampa said.
Results of the investigation being conducted by Coast Guard officers from the agency’s central office would be used as basis in the filing of criminal and administrative charges against those found liable for the maritime disaster.
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