ILOILO City – The parents of a school teacher who was a native of Samal, Bataan blamed the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and a shipping firm for their son’s death in the Iloilo Strait tragedy on Saturday.
The fatality was 39-year-old Andrew Valenzuela of Barangay San Juan, Samal, Bataan, a teacher working in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He taught at the Bataan Peninsula State University for 13 years before working in the UAE in 2016.
“Nananawagan ako sa Pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte, Vice President (Leni) Robredo at sa mga senador na hangga’t maaari huwag nang maulit ang ganoong sistema. Ang coastguard at mga may-ari ng bangka, hindi alam ang pinaggagawa. Ilang buhay ang nawala dahil sa kapabayaan nila,” the victim’s father, Boy, said.
Valenzuela’s mother, Corazon, said, “Sa kinauukulan, hindi dapat nadisgrasya ang anak ko. Alam ninyo na hindi maganda ang panahon, may dalawang bangka nang nadisgrasya, bakit pinatuloy pa ninyo ang vessel na sinasakyan ng anak ko sampu ng kanyang mga kasama.”
Valenzuela was with other eight Filipino teachers from UAE onboard the motorboat.
Corazon said her son died along with two female teachers while the others survived.
The mother also blamed the shipping company for the tragedy.
“Bakit ang bangkang nakakontrata sa aking anak hindi ‘yon ang ibinigay nila at pinalitan? Dapat malaking bangka ang sinakyan ng anak ko at mga kasama pero maliit na bangka ang ibinigay na hindi ‘yon ang binayaran at nakakontrata,” she said.
The mother said Valenzuela arrived in Bataan from Abu Dhabi on July 7 and left for Cebu, Bohol and Iloilo on July 29.
He was supposed to return to the UAE on Aug. 20.
She recalled how happy their family was days before Valenzuela left for Iloilo.
“Sa aking anak, hindi ko akalain na ‘yon na ang huli nating pagkikita. Hindi ko inasahan na ganoon ang magiging tadhana mo, na hindi ka babalik sa amin nang buhay. Maging maligaya ka saan ka man naroroon,” Corazon said.
Boy Valenzuela said after his son left for Iloilo, he often sent him messages, telling him to take care of himself.
On the day of the accident, he said, he phoned Valenzuela many times but his son’s phone just kept on ringing, only to learn in the afternoon that his son was already gone.
Valenzuela had built a big house for his parents but this was yet to be finished. He had promised to send additional funds once he returned to the UAE. (PNA/PN)