Philippine Star, Sunday, December 12, 2010
MANILA, Philippines – Four Filipino sea marshals received awards from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for their bravery while on duty onboard the Super Ferry 9 that sank in September 2009, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced.
The Philippine embassy in London reported to the DFA that members of the Task Force Sea Marshals received Certificates of Commendation from the IMO at ceremonies for the 2010 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea held at the IMO headquarters in London recently.
The Filipino awardees were Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Samuel Boniol, Navy Petty Officer Third Class Anifer Bucao, Navy Seaman First Class Oliver Cogo, and Philippine National Police Senior Police Officer 3 (SPO3) Loreto Justo.
Except for Justo who has retired from service, the three awardees personally received their commendation from IMO Secretary General Efthimios Mitropoulos.
They were accompanied by Charge d’Affaires Reynaldo Catapang and Coast Guard Commodore and Task Force Sea Marshals head Luis Tuason Jr.
Following the order to abandon ship as Super Ferry 9 sank, the four assisted with the evacuation of the passengers and shepherded them as they were being rescued.
They were the last persons to abandon the severely listing vessel after ensuring that all passengers had been evacuated.
The three Filipino sailors were presented to leaders of the Filipino community in London by Catapang during the annual charity dinner and dance hosted by the Kapampangan Association of UK.
“The bravery of these Filipino service personnel, in complete disregard of their personal safety, highlights the natural inclination of Filipino soldiers to willingly put their lives on the line to protect civilians. We are indeed proud of their international recognition by IMO,” Catapang remarked.
The IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea was established by the IMO to provide international recognition for those who, at the risk of their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment and, by so doing, help to raise the profile of shipping and enhance its image.
Fijian seaman James Fanifau received the award this year for his rescue of Dr. Jerome Morgan from the sinking yacht Sumatra II in May 2009, amid severe weather conditions in the Tasman Sea in Brisbane, Australia.
In 2009, Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary Lieutenant Commander Vanessa Anne Garon and Ensign Maria Alexandra Garon received Letters of Commendation from IMO for their role in the recovery of bodies from the capsized M/V Princess of the Stars.