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Weesam 7 incident spawns good news for Ormoc Rescue team; inquiry sought

ORMOC CITY – The incident about Weesam 7 getting tossed by the waves and strong winds on July 23, 2013 at around 8:00 in the morning while it was about to leave for Cebu has spawned good news for the “Ormoc Rescue” team. 

To recall, Weesam 7, as it was about to leave the port for Cebu on that day, got tossed and carried away by big waves and strong winds. The machine reportedly failed to start and it floated away, hapless to the merciless elements. It ran aground at the Bagsakan in Brgy. Alegria, around 10 meters from shore and 100 meters away from the port.

Inside, 42 scared passengers trembled with fright as the ship’s crew of 17 tried to deal with the precarious situation.

In his committee report, councilor Godofredo Ebcas said that “with the craft continually battered by the waves”, it was “decided to disembark the passengers”. The Ormoc Rescue, he said, were already on “stand by even if there was no call for assistance”.

The immediate responders included the Philippine Coast Guard, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the General Services Division of the city and police from Station 3 at Brgy. Linao for crowd control.

Mayor Edward Codilla, Vice Mayor Toto Locsin Jr., and councilors Roland Villasencio and Vincent Rama were also there to lend a hand.

Some of the passengers, including a 63-year old foreign national, had to be brought to the hospital for hypertension.

The others were given temporary shelter while documentation was done, and were given a hot lunch by the City.

Meanwhile, the role of the Ormoc Rescue unit was highlighted in the incident, said Ebcas. He said that it was agreed by the new composition of the council to create the Risk Reduction and Management Office (RRMO) composed of at least six personnel.

Even before the Weesam 7 incident, Councilor Dr. Gerry Penserga, in a previous talk with EV Mail, said they were alarmed after knowing that the Ormoc Rescue team were composed of “volunteers” from the city’s work force but were not even “insured” from the risk to their lives. Then, he hinted that the new composition of the council wants the rescue team “institutionalized” and with benefits befitting these “real heroes” willing to risk their lives to help others.

On the other hand, Ebcas also reported that they are putting forward the enactment of an ordinance to enable “forced evacuation” in high-risk disaster areas.

He said that under the General Welfare Clause, the city has the power to order forced evacuation when necessary.

As for Weesam 7, it was learned that the fast craft’s transmission was badly damaged and it will be weeks before trips resume, aside from the fact that the Philippine Coast Guard and MARINA are conducting an inquiry into the incident.

Councilor Penserga said that the council could also do an inquiry into it, in aid of legislation. He said that unlike big boats which have anchors to tether it while being rammed by big waves, it is apparent these fast crafts have none.

In the light of the recent incident, he said that it might help if the council looks into the matter to address or look for solutions to avoid similar incidents to happen in the future. “We must be pro-active, not reactive”, he said. By Lalaine M. Jimenea 

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