Boat captain detained for death of Chinese scuba diver

DUMAGUETE CITY – The skipper of the commercial motorboat MBCA Myles II that allegedly hit and killed a Chinese scuba diver in Apo Island, Dauin, Negros Oriental over the weekend, has been detained.

Dauin police identified the captain as Juvy Baat, 28, single, and a resident of Barangay Liloan, Santander, in nearby Cebu.

Baat appeared Monday morning at the City Prosecutor’s Office at the Hall of Justice in Dumaguete City for a preliminary hearing in relation to the complaint of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide filed against him by Chinese national Lee Fung Kui, said Dauin Police chief, Insp. Bernabe Rubio.

Rubio said Baat had signed a waiver that he will remain in police custody pending preliminary investigation and until the prosecutor’s office sets bail for his temporary liberty.

Lee Fung Kui of Hong Kong filed the complaint against Baat following the death of her husband, 54-year-old Young Tai Hang last Saturday due to severe head injuries.

The victim, who was then diving off Apo Island, was hit by the propeller of the MBCA Myles II skippered by Baat, police investigation showed.

Young Tai Hang and his wife were guests at the Azure Dive Resort in Masaplod, Dauin and went to Apo Island on board another motorboat, the MBCA On A Whim, on Saturday morning.

Shortly after 10 a.m. that day, a staff of the Apo Island’s Protected Area Management Board informed the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Malatapay, Zamboanguita town that a motorboat hit a diver about 20 meters off the coast of Apo Island.

Responding PCG personnel facilitated the retrieval of the diver and transported him to the Malatapay Wharf, where an ambulance from Dauin’s local government was waiting to take him to a hospital in Dumaguete.

Young Tai Hang was, however, declared dead on arrival at the Silliman University Medical Center here.

An initial report of the PCG showed that MBCA Myles II had departed Malatapay Wharf at about 9:30 a.m. bound for Apo Island with 11 passengers on board. At about 10 a.m. that day, Baat told Coast Guard personnel that they did not notice the Chinese diver as they were transiting towards the island.

Lt. Junior Grade Donna Liza Ramacho, commander of the Philippine Coast Guard in Negros Oriental, had immediately ordered the MBCA Myles II not to sail and to file a marine protest and oath of undertaking.

Ramacho on Monday disclosed that the lawyer of MBCA Myles II was expected to submit both requirements later Monday.

She explained that the MBCA Myles II would not be allowed to sail while the court case is ongoing.

However, the PCG has allowed the motorboat to be placed under the custody of its operator/owner.

The Coast Guard commander warned that if MBCA Myles II would insist on sailing even without permission from authorities, the PCG would charge its owner with violation of the maritime law.

Meanwhile, the body of the deceased diver was brought to a funeral parlor here and will be repatriated to Hong Kong by his wife, said Rubio.