Despite ordeal at sea, rescued fishermen from Zambales want to return to Panatag
SUBIC, ZAMBALES—The two Filipino fishermen rescued last week by the Chinese Coast Guard appealed for government assistance so they could return to fishing after losing their boats at the Panatag Shoal, also known as the Scarborough Shoal.
Morrey Sierra, 45, a fisherman from Palauig town in Zambales province, said while he was recovering from his ordeal at sea, he could not afford to stop fishing to support his family.
“We are asking for financial help from our local government officials. We are afraid we are going to lose our source of income because our boats were badly damaged,” Sierra told the Inquirer by telephone on Monday.
Sierra and another fisherman, Lloyd Acquiot, also from Palauig, returned home on Dec. 3 after they were turned over by the Chinese Coast Guard to the Philippine Coast Guard on Dec. 2.
The two fishermen and four others went missing last month when their boats boats capsized due to strong wind and high waves. Their mother boat had just left the shoal to bring some of their catch back to Palauig when Typhoon “Marce” crossed the West Philippine Sea.
“We tried to keep ourselves afloat by clinging to the rocks around the shoal,” Sierra said.
He said a passing Chinese fishing boat saw him and Acquiot.
“A Chinese fishermen rescued us and we stayed in his boat for two nights and two days before he turned us over to a Chinese Coast Guard vessel,” Sierra said.
According to him, they stayed for another two days on a Chinese Coast Guard ship.
“We thought we were going to die but the Chinese Coast Guard rescued us. They treated us well and were so accommodating the whole time we were on their ship,” Sierra said.
“We slept in beds in an air-conditioned room. We always had food to eat. The Chinese were so generous and friendly, that’s why we’re thankful to them,” he said.
After returning home, Sierra and Acquiot also appealed to President Duterte for assistance to recover their losses and replace their damaged boats.
“We have to immediately return to fishing to support our family but because of what happened, we don’t know how to start,” Sierra said.
He said their boats cost about P40,000 each and they were losing at least P10,000 every time they failed to go on a fishing trip.
Sierra said two of their fellow crew members who were missing—Kenedy Amog and Amor Trapsi—had also been rescued. Two more fishermen, Gil Damgo and Manuel Alarcon, remained missing, said PCG spokesperson, Commander Armand Balilo. —ALLAN MACATUNO
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