Three Dead, Scores Missing in Philippine Monsoon

By Associated Press 13 June 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Big waves sank a boat in the southwestern Philippines, killing at least two people and leaving 10 missing while rescuers searched on Wednesday for 80 more fishermen after monsoon rains inundated southern villages.

The vessel MV Jociel 2 sank shortly before midnight on Tuesday before reaching El Nido on Palawan Island, said coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo.

One of the passengers managed to contact the coast guard and 22 people were rescued while 10 others are still missing. A child and an elderly person drowned, he said.

The onset of the typhoon season brought heavy rains and strong waves in the southern Mindanao region, where 49 fishermen were rescued while 80 others are still unaccounted for, Balilo said. He added that search and rescue operations were ongoing.

Two days of flooding in several southern provinces displaced nearly 700 people and at least one drowned in Sarangani’s Glan town, said Benito Ramos, head of the Philippines’ disaster response agency. Those who fled were being sheltered in public gymnasiums.

A new storm in the western Pacific was forecast to reach the eastern Philippines later this week and could become the first typhoon of the year. About 20 tropical storms and typhoons each year batter the Philippine archipelago.

Meanwhile, Philippine riot police blocked hundreds of left-wing protesters and farmers from marching toward the US Embassy in Manila to demand land and to protest the presence of American troops in the country.

Police used fiberglass shields and wooden batons on Tuesday to stop around 1,000 protesters from getting close to the heavily secured American compound, sparking a brief scuffle. No arrests were made and the protesters later dispersed peacefully.

The protesters slammed the government’s land reform program as ineffective and said the presence of US counterterrorism troops in the south has undermined Philippine independence. The protests were staged as the country celebrated its declaration of independence from centuries of Spanish colonization in 1898.