Manila Bulletin, November 27, 2010
MANILA, Philippines — Two Philippine Navy personnel received commendation from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London, in recognition of their gallant acts during the evacuation and rescue of passengers of the ill-fated Super Ferry 9 that sank off Siocon town in Zamboanga del Norte in September 2009.
Twelve people perished from the incident while more than 900 were saved from the tragedy.
Capt. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, acting Navy spokesman, said Gunnersmate 3rd Class Anifer Bucao and Fireman 1st Class Aviation Mechanic Oliver Cogo were presented the certificates of commendation on November 25 at the IMO headquarters in London.
On September 10, 2009, the Navy Flag Officer-in-Command (FOIC) Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez also presented to Bucao and Cogo, members of the four-man Task Force Sea Marshal, the “Distinguished Navy Cross,” the highest award the command can bestow, also for their “sound judgment” and swift action during the incident.
Bacordo said the IMO gave the award in recognition of the duo’s actions in assisting in the evacuation and disembarkation of the panicked-stricken passengers of the severely listing ship. He added the same recognition will be presented to Petty Officer 2nd Class Samuel Boniol of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
The certificates were presented to the two Navy personnel by His Excellency Eftimios Mitropoulos, IMO Secretary General, during the 88th session of the Maritime Safety Commission Meeting in London.
Bacordo said the IMO Council, during its 104th session held June 7 to 11, decided the said sea marshals should receive the certificates with their actions after the ship listed and the captain issued an order to abandon the ship at around 3:00 a.m. The ship sank six hours later.
Bucao and Cogo became nominees for the 2010 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.
During the presentation of the Distinguished Navy Cross medal to the duo in 2009, the former Navy chief said Cogo was the last person to jump off the sinking ship on that fateful day.
Disregarding his own safety, Cogo said he did not leave the ship until he was sure there was no one else left on board the vessel. Based on his narration, among those he was able to help safely disembark from the sinking ferry were 15 children, the last of whom was a special child he recalled kept punching him then.
Bucao admitted fearing for his own life but still managed to maintain presence of mind. He said he decided to jump off the sinking vessel only after making sure there was no one else left in his sector.
The two Navy personnel helped distribute lifejackets while trying to calm down the passengers by telling them that rescue is on its way.
The abandon ship order was announced by the captain at about 3:35 a.m. but it was already around 8 a.m. when Cogo jumped off the ship. As he jumped into the sea, Cogo said he noticed a man having difficulty with his lifejacket so he decided to throw his lifejacket to the man, thinking that he can handle the situation better than the civilian because of his training. Without any life support, Cogo swam as fast as he could, away from the sinking SuperFerry 9 until he reached one of the navy vessels that responded to the distress call.
An order signed by Rear Admiral Feliciano Angue, then Chief of Naval Staff, stated, “Upon hearing the ship master's command to abandon ship, Bucao and Cogo disregarded personal safety and voluntarily remained on board to provide aid and comfort to disoriented passengers.”