Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Execs foil looting of sunken ship

OLONGAPO CITY-The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) foiled another attempt to loot a sunken vessel at the Subic Bay.

Felipe Macababbad, PCG station commander, said the loot, a ship's bow estimated to weigh a ton, was already on the shore of Barrio Barretto when PCG personnel and the SBMA tourism department went there on Monday.

Macababbad said the loot was taken from a Japanese vessel submerged in Baloy Beach.
He said they have identified five suspects in the alleged illegal salvage operation of a national treasure. They were Renyl Varela, Rosito Elicano, Jess Marcia, Renato Olicia and Willy David, the alleged financier.

On Wednesday, Macababbad said the PCG and the suspects reached an agreement for the voluntary return of the loot.

It was the second reported looting of sunken vessels in two months.

On June 13, a dive instructor at the Subic Freeport said a sunken American vessel, which has become one of the popular diving sites in Subic, was looted. Diver Butch Horacio said while he and some tourists were on a recreational dive last month, he noticed that some of the USS New York's pipes, cables and port holes were missing.
The looting prompted Kenneth Peralta, SBMA tourism department head, to call for a consultancy meeting on Tuesday among Subic Bay investors, dive shop owners and police officials. Subic dive shop owners said that only 27 of the 30 sunken vessels are still in Subic.

During the meeting, dive shop owners also assailed PCG personnel and the SBMA harbor patrol for their alleged inability to prevent not only the rampant looting of sunken vessels, but also cyanide and dynamite fishing in Subic Bay.

Peralta said the SBMA law enforcement and tourism departments, and some investors, monitored areas in Subic Bay in May this year and discovered that at least 10 unregistered boats were involved in cyanide fishing. Ansbert Joaquin, PDI Central Luzon Desk


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