Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said emergency response programs will be strengthened in Boracay Island to prevent another tragedy similar to the death of members of the Boracay Dragon Team.

“The Boracay Inter-agency Task Force (BIATF) is saddened by this tragedy and sympathizes with the families of all casualties. The task force will work with the local government units and other authorities to extend assistance to all affected by this unfortunate incident,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu assured that the BIATF Field Office “will work on a comprehensive emergency response program and shall recommend it to the principals of the task force.”

The BIATF is chaired by Cimatu and co-chaired by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

“The program will consider the provision of necessary protocols, logistics, and resources for an effective emergency rescue and response in the island,” Cimatu said.

The local municipality of Malay in Aklan also responded to the aid of the victims and their families by activating their Incident Command System, with the departments and agencies providing their services such as cadaver management from the Municipal Health Office; family assistance and stress debriefing from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office and Red Cross; and security from the Philippine Coast Guard and the maritime arm of the Philippine National Police.

A boat carrying 20 paddlers and one steersman of the Boracay Dragon Team overturned amid rowing from the Bulabog Beach to the White Beach of Boracay Island on the morning of Wednesday, September 25, 2019.

Seven paddlers were declared dead on arrival (DOA) after being taken to the hospital, namely: Mark Vincent Navarete, Omar Arcob, Maricel Tan, Yohan Tan, Richel Montoya, Antonette Supranes, and John Vincent Natividad.

Another paddler, Von Navarossa, was brought to Kalibo Hospital.

The survivors were Mark Baccay, Jaylord Violanda, Robel Licerio, Marc Sabado, Oathleen Sabado, Kenneth Bandalan, Julia Kurbaniizova, Maggie Xie, Xhen Autona, Lani Ordas, Janice Lumbo, Jao Buenaventura, and Edwin Paradas.

According to reports, the Boracay Dragon Boat Team was training for weeks at Bulabog Beach in Barangay Balabag but transferred to the White Beach because the winds changed from southwest monsoon (habagat) to northeast monsoon (amihan) three days ago.

While paddling, the team encountered a sudden violent gust of wind before they reached the third bay of Tulubhan Beach in SitioTulubhan in Manocmanoc, Boracay Island. Waves started to swell and then hit the boat. Water filled the boat before it capsized.

The group has been practicing for weeks in the famous tourist destination for an international competition before the accident. ###