Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

    SURIGAO CITY – More than 200 passengers of a Fastcat ferry bound for Surigao from Liloan, Southern Leyte, endured a harrowing ordeal on February 15, 2024, when their vessel failed to dock at the port and drifted back to the open sea.

    According to Jocelyn Medina, one of the passengers who posted her experience on Facebook, they bought their tickets at 1 pm and were told that the boat would depart Liloan port at 2 pm. However, they left only at 4 pm, after waiting for two hours at the pre-departure area.

    They arrived in Surigao at 7 pm, but instead of docking, the boat turned back to the sea. Medina said she asked another passenger why they were going back, and he told her that the boat’s anchor was too far from the docking ramp, so they could not dock.

    They waited for another hour, but the boat did not move. Medina said the crew gave different reasons for the delay, such as engine trouble, low tide, and strong waves. She also said that the crew did not offer any water or biscuits to the passengers, who were already hungry and thirsty.

    Medina and some other passengers suggested that the crew call the coast guard for help, but they said “the rescue boat is coming.” Medina said she wore a life jacket and a lady crew asked her if she wanted to board a small boat, but she refused because it was a tiny pump boat that looked unsafe.

    Medina said she called her husband to talk to city officials for help, because it seemed that Fastcat management had not done anything to facilitate a rescue. She learned that another passenger also called the coast guard at 9:45 pm.

    At 10 pm, they were finally lined up to board the coast guard rescue boat, but some passengers who were going to Butuan, Cagayan, and other far places were left behind. They reached the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) at 10:30 pm, hungry and angry.

    Medina said she observed that Fastcat management was negligent and irresponsible, as they did not inform the passengers of the true status of the boat, did not show any concern for their welfare, and did not call and ask for help from the authorities. She also said that they were only after their own profit, as they continued selling eggs, biscuits, coffee, and water at a higher price than the stores.

    Medina thanked God and the coast guard for rescuing them, and also thanked her friends and family for their prayers and concern. She ended her post with a good morning greeting.

    Fastcat has not issued any statement regarding the incident as of press time. This is not the first time that a Fastcat ferry was involved in a mishap. In May 2023, a Fastcat ferry collided with a cargo vessel in Cebu, injuring 13 passengers. In October 2018, another Fastcat ferry collided with a cargo vessel in Cebu, causing damage to both vessels.


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