Monday, September 14, 2009

2 sea marshals cited for SuperFerry rescue

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Friday, 11 September 2009

By:Jocelyn R Uy

Navy (PN) received one of the highest
awards the command can bestow for "gallantry"
and "sound judgment" during the
rescue of passengers of SuperFerry 9 which
sank over the weekend.

Gunnersmate 3rd dass Anifer Bucao and
Fireman 1st Class Aviation Mechanic Oliver Cogo
yesterday received the Distinguished Navy Cross
in rites at PN headquarters in Manila.

As a counterterrorism measure, the Navy
started deploying sea marshals on interisland
passenger and cargo ships following
the bombing of SuperFerry 14 in 2004.

The Navy credited its swift response to the
tragedy to an early morning "Alay Lakad"
walk the Armed Forces of the Philippines
had scheduled before dawn on Sunday.

Navy chief Vice Adm. Ferdinand Golez
said most of his force was up by 3 a.m.

"It was good fortune that we had a very early
morning activity that day...we got word immediately
and relayed instructions to operating
forces in that part of the country,so the rescue
happened in the quickest possible time," Golez
told reporters at the rites.

Twelve people died in the panic and
scramble for exits as SuperFerry 9 listed to
its starboard side off Sibuco Point in Zamboanga
del Norte, at about the same time
that naval personnel were waking up in
Metro Manila.

More than 900 people were saved and
everyone has been accounted for, including
the 12 fatalities.

Bucao said he got scared when passengers
started panicking and jumping from
the ship.

"I was also afraid, of course. But I made
sure to keep my presence of mind," he said.

Cogo said calming down and assuring
the passengers that rescuers were on the
way helped them exit the ship in an orderly

He said he tied rope to the port side railing
for people to hold onto as they slid on
the deck down to the starboard side.

When he saw a man struggling in the sea
with a life vest, he threw him his own vest
and ring, Cogo said.

Cogo and Bucao were among the last to
abandon ship as they went through the vessel
one last time to make sure no one had
been left behind.

"They disregarded personal safety and
voluntarily remained on board to provide
aid and comfort to disoriented passengers,"
Acting Naval Adjutant Commander Gerardo
Ebro read from the commendation.

Ebro said they demonstrated "remarkable
gallantry" and "sound judgment" by
giving passengers clear instructions on how
to safely abandon the ship and personally
led them to the exits.

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