SAN ANDRES, Catanduanes – Government rescue teams who were sent to locate the five missing fishermen have found one survivor in off the coast of Pandan town in Catanduanes, a military official said here today.
Lieutenant Colonel Danilo Aquino, Commanding Officer of the 83rd Infantry Battalion which was earlier tasked to carry out the massive search and rescue operations to locate the missing fishermen, said that the lone survivor was found in Baldok village in Pandan town at around 9:30am (Sunday).
Aquino identified the survivor as Joselito Soledad, 19, of Cagdarao village, Panganiban town.
“I immediately tasked Corporal Murilla who is assigned in the area to assist the victim who was promptly admitted in a local hospital. The victim was rescued by Jose Camacho near his house in the seaside village of Baltok,” said Aquino.
Soledad said that they were sailing towards a tiny island called Panay when they were met by turbulent waters at around 11:00pm on January 5.
“Our small banca was turned upside down by the huge waves. We were separated and decided to save our own lives,”said Soledad who suffered a small cut on his left arm and leg.
“I desperately swam for three days towards an island in the horizon but the strong current slowed me down. I passed out one day due to over-fatigue and hunger but I was lucky to have been brought by the waves near the coastline where I was found this morning.”.
Dr. Maria Theresa Mariano, the resident physician of Pandan District hospital has declared Soledad out of danger.
“He has a minor cuts that we have cleaned and treated immediately; however, he is now in stable condition,” explains Mariano.
Four of Soledad’s companions remain missing since they were separated. He identified them as his brothers Joseph Soledad, 33, Jerry Soledad,30 and cousins Ranie Villar, 20, Ricky Villar,28.
Major General Ruperto “Raffy” Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division, directed the soldiers and CAFGU personnel under his command to pursue the search and rescue missions to locate the four missing fishermen.
Colonel Guillermo “Gem” Molina, Commander of the Air Force unit based in Legaspi City, has sent two rescue choppers to assist the soldiers and policemen who are now scouring the neighboring towns and islands to locate the missing fishermen.