2 cadavers found in drifting boat in Sulu

David Yu Santos

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Cadavers believed to be among the 11 'missing' fishermen in Basilan sea attack found

SURVIVORS. Deep sea fishermen Arvin Oponda and Jessie Boy Loques, 2 of 3 survivors of the January 23 Basilan sea attack recount their ordeal to authorities as search continues for their 11 co-workers who are feared to have been killed in the incident. (File photo courtesy of Zambo Sur PNP)

MANILA, Philippines – Authorities in Sulu are verifying the identities of 2 cadavers recovered from a remote island north of the province on Sunday, January 29, amid on-going search operations for 11 missing fishermen feared to have been killed in a sea attack in neighboring Basilan a week ago.

“Our Naval Coast Watch station in Tongkil Island reported this morning that 2 unidentified cadavers were found in the coastal area of Barangay Tabialan,” Colonel Jose Johnriel Cenabre, deputy commander of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao said in a text message to the media on Sunday.

According to Cenabre, the the 2 cadavers were recovered onboard a palakaya or outrigger fishing boat with the markings of “FB (fishing boat) Tandu Buay” that was drifting near the coastal village of Tabialan in Tongkil island,” bolstering suspicions that the fatalities could have come from the Sibago sea attack. Almost all of the fishermen were natives of Barangay Tandu Buay, San Pablo town in Zamboanga del Sur.

Cenabre however pointed out that the identities of the cadavers have to be confirmed whether they are indeed part of the 11 fishermen suspected to be among the 15 others, who were killed when armed men strafed their palakayas off Sibago Island in Mohammad Adjul town in Basilan last January 20.

The island town of Tongkil (now known as Banguingui) is located in the northwest area of Sulu province. The navy believes that the palakaya bearing the cadavers may have been carried out to the seas of Tongkil from Sibago by strong currents.

Only 4 cadavers have so far been recovered and turned over to their families in San Pablo town. Also on Sunday, San Pablo Mayor Dalman Mantos said that 3 of cadavers have been buried in a local cemetery.

Three fishermen survived the attack. One of them remains confined at a Zamboanga City hospital for medical treatment due to gunshot wounds.

‘Where are the other victims?’

Ronald Bulhian, Leonido Tamparong and Wilmar Lonson were buried together in a cemetery in Barangay Tandu Buay. Mantos said that the families of the dead are bent on seeking justice, as a number of the other victims remain unaccounted for.

“We don’t have any report yet on where the other victims are,” Mantos told Rappler. “It’s been a week since the attack occurred and the grieving families remain clueless on the whereabouts of their loved ones.”

Mantos said he has yet to be informed on Sunday’s recovery of 2 cadavers in Sulu and will volunteer to verify the victims’ identities. – Rappler.com

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