By ERWIN MASCARIÑAS
BUTUAN City — The fisherman marooned at sea for 21 days has returned safely to his home and family in Surigao City after he was rescued in the island nation of Palau.
A report from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) identified the fisherman as Robert dela Cruz, 39, of Barangay Washington, Pantalan Uno, Surigao City.
The Coast Guard said dela Cruz was found drifting at sea and was rescued by the crew of M/T Seri Begawan, a Malaysian flagged tanker, at about 51 nautical miles southeast of Anguar Palau, Island and 490 nautical miles East of Davao region on Saturday.
The Coast Guard said dela Cruz and his companions went for a fishing venture in April 26 at the Pacific Ocean aboard their mother boat but he was subsequently separated from the rest of the crew. He was on a small boat to catch fish.
Officials said after hours of searching, he eventually ran out of gasoline and started drifting.
According to the Coast Guard, dela Cruz survived by eating raw fish and drinking rainwater for 21 days.
Dela Cruz’s ordeal covered the distance of 600 nautical miles or 1,100 kilometers of open sea.
The Coast Guard District South Eastern Mindanao Operation Center received information from the Malaysian vessel seeking assistance regarding the rescued Filipino fisherman. The Coast Guard then sent BRP Tubbataha to the designated area together with medical personnel.
By May 27, the crew of BRP Tubbataha met with dela Cruz and provided medical assistance to the dehydrated fisherman.
Capt. Marco Antonio Gines, Coast Guard commanding officer of MRRV 4401, presented a certificate of appreciation and letter of vommendation to the crew of M/T Seri Begawan headed by Capt. Manjit Lal for their humanitarian act of rescuing the Filipino fisherman.
M/T Seri Begawan left Gladstone, Queensland, Australia for Behai Port in Guangxi, China in May 19. It passed by South of Palau in May 25.