maritime accidents

Body of missing Ati chieftain found, speedboat skipper arrested

Jun Aguirre

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Body of missing Ati chieftain found, speedboat skipper arrested

SEARCH. Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos joined the early morning search for missing Ati chieftain Ernesto Coching on April 8, 2023.

Aklan Provincial Police Office

According to the survivor, Ricky Valencia, the speedboat skipper did not even attempt to rescue him and his father-in-law, Ati chieftain Ernesto Coching, after their vessels collided

BORACAY, Philippines – A joint team on Saturday, April 8, found the body of the Ati chieftain who had gone missing after his fishing boat collided with a speedboat in Boracay waters.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously referred to Ernesto Coching as an Aeta chieftain. This has been corrected.

The cadaver of Ernesto Coching, 64, was found Saturday noon in waters off Malay, Aklan, three days after his boat collided with a speedboat owned by the Shangri-la and Spa Resort, police confirmed.

Patrolman Jonalyn Patriolo of Aklan’s Provincial Mobile Group said in an interview that the cadaver was immediately brought to a funeral parlor in Barangay Sambiray in Malay for proper disposition.

“His immediate family has positively identified that it was indeed Ernesto Coching, the chieftain of the Malay Ati Tribal Association (MATA),” she said.

Malay police chief Lieutenant Colonel Don Dicksie de Dios said earlier on Saturday that the Police Maritime Group have arrested Diwata 4 speedboat skipper Mansueto Tana and that he was detained at the Malay Municipal Police Detention Facility.

“Based on the maritime police investigation, the suspect, who hails from San Jose, Romblon did not attempt to rescue the victims after the collision incident. The suspect during the time was bringing only two guests from Caticlan to Shangri-la and were supposed to immediately help the victims,” De Dios said.

The Maritime Police is set to file the charges against Tana on Tuesday April 11, as the trial court would not be open on Monday – a holiday – to receive the complaint.

De Dios also said that he received information that the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) had ordered the grounding of the Diwata 4. 

Shangri-la Resort and Spa has yet to issue a statement on the incident as of posting time.

Survivor’s account

Coching was at sea fishing with his son-in-law, Ricky Valencia, on Wednesday night, April 5, when their vessel collided with the Shangri-la and Spa Resort speedboat.

Valencia, who was rescued, told Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos that they were doing manual fishing, and that their boat had lighting equipment. They were on their back to shore and did not immediately notice that the speedboat was along their way.

“After the collision, the speedboat temporarily stopped to check on what had happened but instead of helping us the boat captain resumed running his speedboat towards the Shangri-la,” Valencia said.

Valencia said that he could not find Coching because of poor visibility – it was too dark at sea. The incident happened past 9 pm. 

Abalos joined the search operation on Saturday morning. –

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