By Izza Reynoso

FOUND. The seven men aboard a motorized banca that went missing while en route to a coastal town in Palawan from their island village are found alive near North Verde Island on Friday afternoon (Jan. 26, 2024). The passengers rode the inverted boat’s keel for three days until help arrived. (Photo courtesy of Palawan PDRRMO)

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – All seven passengers of a missing motorized banca (boat) have been rescued by Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel in this province on Friday afternoon.

Ensign Chrieson Dave Gabayan, spokesperson for PCG District Palawan, said the group was spotted by rescuers while riding the keel of their overturned vessel, approximately 7.6 nautical miles east of North Verde Island in the municipality of Roxas.

The survivors were identified as Roberto Bacolod, Aljon Edar, Janjan Paalan, Jackie Paalan, Thomas Vigonte, Roque Lohan and Alfredo Abad.

They were taken aboard the PCG’s BRP Melchora Aquino and were on their way to this city as of this writing.

“The seven individuals have been sighted. They are now aboard the BRP Melchora Aquino. The rescued residents will be ferried to Puerto Princesa because the PCG vessel cannot go near the shores of Araceli,” Gabayan said.

The group departed from their village in Calandagan Island on Wednesday and were headed for the coastal municipality of Araceli when they went missing.

The group’s disappearance was reported to the PCG on Thursday after they failed to show up at their port of destination.

The PCG immediately launched an extensive search and rescue operation, enlisting the help of the Philippine Air Force in providing an aerial sweep of the area where the boat was believed to have gone missing.

Personnel of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office also joined in locating the missing travelers.

Gabayan confirmed that the small vessel keeled over because of violent ocean conditions. (PNA)