Wednesday, May 9, 2007
The answer to their prayer came through Mr. Xerman Baja from Cagayan de Oro City, who was performing functions as a volunteer of the Dekada Siete Communications Group. He heard the SOS of the four fishermen through his transceiver radio, and immediately relayed to fellow Dekada Siete Member Capt. Benjie Escobal, who is also the pilot of the eye in the Sky Helicopter of DzRH.
DzRH then reported the matter to this representation as Chairman of Red Cross for urgent action. Realizing the urgency of the situation is lack of food and water of the four fishermen was aggravated as well by the fact that one of them was suffering from ulcers, and they had already been adrift for 13 days when Xerman Baja received the report, this Representation immediately help coordinate a rescue operation.
This representation spoke with the Philippine Coast Guard Commodore Tamayo immediately and got fax including the single side band frequency and relayed the matter to the Assistant to the Ambassador of the United States of America, Mr. Andy Ball, who immediately responded to the request for assistance by mobilizing a P3 Orion, an aircraft that is equipped with the communication and surveilance equipment to local vessels and coordinate with rescue vessels at sea, to facilitate and recover the four fishermen. Lt. Col. Kelvin Clark of JUSMAG, served as the point person, who coordinated with this representation, the Philippine Coast Guard, Mr. Xerman Baja and Capt. Escobal of DZRH. On the other hand, Red Cross teams based in Zambales immediately established contact with the families of the four fishermen to keep them informed regarding the rescue operations in order to ease their minds of worry.
Let us keep mind that this four fishermen were lost in a vast sea. As such P3 Orion was sent four times with a differen crew each time to search the area quadrant by quadrant, grid by grid to pinpoint the location of the four fishermen. When the P3 Orion finally spotted the four fishermen at around 5:00 pm on April 9, they dropped flares to mark the location of the motorized banca and requested a Chinese vessel in the area to pick them up. Unfortunately, probably due to some miscommunication, the Chinese vessel newer came. Hence, eventually the Philippine Navy who sent a ship, and utilized a rubber to finally reach the motorized banca at around 7:00 am on April 10, after being adrift for eighteen (18) days.