• Melo Acuna

Filipino cited for exceptional bravery

International Maritime Organization honors off-duty Coast Guard officer for exceptional bravery at sea

MANILA – The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has recognized the exceptional bravery of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Probationary/Ensign Ralph O. Barajan for ensuring the safety of 62 passengers aboard an ill-fated passenger vessel MV Siargao Princess in Cebu waters last November 7,2019.

P/Ensign Barajan will receive the distinguished 2020 IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.

In a statement, the PCG said the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is an annual international recognition for individuals for their extraordinary bravery, risking their own lives to ensure the safety of life at sea or prevent or mitigate maritime environmental damages.

After a thorough review of the nomination submitted by Philippine Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Ambassador Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo, the IMO Panel of Judges under the leadership of IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim, decided to honor P/Ens. Barajan.

PCG Commandant, Admiral George V. Ursabia, Jr. acknowledged the selfless efforts of P/Ens. Barajan in saving the lives of 62 individuals.

“P/Ens. Barajan’s display of courage, determination, and presence of mind which led to the successful rescue of 62 victims, including himself, is indeed worthy of emulation and respect for him, his family and the Philippine Coast Guard – as a perfect demonstration of the Coast Guard Service,: Admiral Ursabia said in a statement.

On Wednesday, October 14, P/Ens. Barajan will be one of the Coast Guard honorees up for commendation during the PCG’s 119th founding anniversary.

P/Ens. Barajan was cited by the IMO for his presence of mind in the evacuation of 55 passengers and seven crew members of MV Siargao Princes which left Bohol Province to Sibonga, Cebu. Along the way, the vessel encountered waves of at least two meters high.

He alerted the nearby Philippine Coast Guard stations and requested for help. He led the passengers in donning life jackets among adults and children. As the vessel was flooded, he convinced the ship captain to declare “abandon ship.”

Before the end of ten minutes, he was able to calmly facilitate the passengers’ safe departure from the ship. He was the last to leave the sinking vessel.

Within ten minutes, the vessel sank. While waiting for rescue, P/Ens. Barajan tied the lifejackets of the passengers and crew in groups where everyone remained secured. Such action allowed the personnel of BRP Suluan to locate the victims which also resulted in the swift conduct of rescue operations due to the orderly evacuation from the ill-fated vessel.

After the rescue, Barajan’s fellow passengers realized he was one of them. He was mistaken for the ship captain. For his action, he was commended by various government agencies and non-government organizations and the Academe. (Melo M. Acuña)

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PCG Probationary Ensign Ralph O. Barajan was cited by IMO for exceptional bravery in the rescue of 62 passengers and crew of ill-dated MV Siargao Princess last year. (PCG Photo)

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