By Jennifer P. Rendon
Rescuers have retrieved the body of a tribe chieftain three days following an allision off Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan evening of April 5.
The body of Ernesto Coching, chieftain of the Malaynon Ati Tribe Association (MATA), was scooped from the waters of Sitio Airport, Caticlan, Malay around 11 a.m. on April 8.
Initial reports claimed that his body was spotted by a resort-operated speedboat near the jetty port.
It was subsequently reported to the Malay Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.
Members of the Aklan Maritime Police Station and the Philippine Coast Guard later retrieved the body.
Hours before that, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr. and Colonel Crisaleo Tolentino, Aklan police chief, joined the scuba search and retrieval efforts.
Around 35 scuba divers joined in the search that covered an area of approximately 250,000 square meters but they failed to retrieve the body.
In a police report, the 64-year-old Coching and his son-in-law Ricky Valencia of Barangay Cubay Sur, Malay, were fishing on a motorized banca in the waters between the Caticlan Jetty Port and Cagban Jetty Port in Boracay Island when the incident happened.
They were allegedly hit by speedboat “Diwata 4” owned and operated by Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa.
The incident happened at around 9:20 p.m. Wednesday but the Malay MDRRMO received the report 30 minutes later.
The speed boat, which was skippered by Mansueto Tana, 43, of Barangay Lanas, San Jose, Romblon, was carrying two more crew members and two guests.
They were on their way to the resort located at Barangay Yapak, Boracay Island when the collision happened.
Police noted that the victims’ motorized fishing boat suffered damages and subsequently sank.
Coching and Valencia were also thrown into the water.
The speedboat was able to rescue Valencia and took him to the Caticlan Jetty Port. He was immediately transferred by Malay MDDRMO rescuers to Malay Municipal Hospital in Motag, Malay.
A search and rescue operation was immediately conducted.
During the investigation, Valencia told police that the speedboat momentarily stopped after the incident.
He claimed that he asked for help since his father-in-law apparently went missing.
“But Tana opted to leave the scene of the collision and transported their tourist passengers first to Boracay Shangri-La Resort & Spa before returning and rescuing the victim survivor,” the police report noted.
Tolentino said Valencia alleged that Tana told him, “babalikan daw sila para may mag-rescue.”
At the survivor’s assessment, the speedboat went back around 30 minutes later.
Tana was subsequently arrested for reckless imprudence resulting in damage to property and physical injuries and violation of Article 275 of the Revised Penal Code or “Abandonment of person in danger and abandonment of one’s own victim.”
Diwata 4 is temporarily held in the custody of the PCG-Aklan in Caticlan for proper disposition while waiting for the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to issue pertinent Order of Temporary Suspension of Operation of the speedboats of Boracay Shangri-La Resort & Spa.