A Boholano boatman has been rescued in Sabah, Malaysia after drifting at sea onboard a banca for 20 days, but his ordeal did not end there as he was held in the country for suspicion of being an illegal alien.
The boatman, Esmeraldo Patan, 52, who offered island-hopping services to tourists in Panglao was found in waters off Sabah on January 19 after being officially declared missing on December 31, 2019.
After found in waters off Sabah, some 400 nautical miles away from where he was last spotted in Panglao, he was placed under the custody of Malaysian authorities.
SN2 Michael Coquilla of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Western Bohol said that they had to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs before Patan was released on Tuesday. Patan’s brother bearing legal documents fetched the lost boatman in Sabah and both are now reportedly on their way back to Bohol.
According to Coquilla, Patan was last seen alone on his motorized banca MB Nazareth which conked out in waters between Panglao and Pamilacan Island, Baclayon at dawn on December 29.
The banca is registered under a barangay councilor in Pamilacan identified as Conrado Valeroso.
Patan was spotted by a boatman onboard another motorized banca who offered to take him to shore. Patan however refused to leave his boat.
“Nasigpatan siya na nagka engine trouble siya. Gusto siyang tabangan pero ang problema di siya mo sakay kay ag banka niya di mabitbit,” said Cocquilla.
Patan was not seen again since then prompting his family to report to authorities that he went missing on December 31, two days after he was last spotted.
According to Coquilla, they have not talked directly with Patan.
The have yet to get information on his condition and how he survived the 20-day ordeal. (A. Doydora)