Palawan fisherman dead in crocodile attack

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — Police and Coast Guard personnel in Palawan recovered late Wednesday the mutilated cadaver of a fisherman believed to have been attacked by a saltwater crocodile in Balabac, southern Palawan.

Ensign Allison Tindog, spokesperson of the Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDP), said the body of missing fisherman Cornelio Bonete, 33, was retrieved at about 6:30 p.m. along the shoreline of Sitio Bual, Barangay Malaking Ilog in the municipality.

Tindog said Bonete was a resident of Barangay Poblacion 5, Balabac, an island municipality in Palawan’s southernmost tip.

“Bonete had been reported missing since Nov. 27 by his family. When he was found, his father Renaldo Bonete positively identified him,” he said.

He added that the location where Bonete’s cadaver was found was reported to authorities by barangay councilor, Jalilon Malupa.

The victim’s right arm and left foot were severed and his body is already in an advanced state of decomposition, Tindog said.

“May mga bite marks na ‘yong katawan, missing na din ang ibang parts because of the attack (There were bite marks on his body, and some parts were already missing because of the attack),” he said.

Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff spokesperson, Jovic Fabello, said Bonete was this year’s fifth victim of saltwater crocodile attack in the southern part of the province.

Fabello noted that the attacks in Balabac seem to be becoming frequent due to the serious disturbance that human activities are causing in their natural habitats.

“The shoreline in the area has houses on stilts that have domesticated animals. Kaya tumatambay doon malapit ang mga crocodile kasi naaamoy nila may pagkain (Crocodiles are constantly seen in the area because they can smell food),” he said.

Fabello said a team from the Protected Wildlife Refuge and Rescue Center (PWRRC) in Barangay Irawan will travel to Balabac on Friday to see if the crocodile can be “extracted.”

Extraction means catching the crocodile that attacked Bonete. A technique called “gastric lavage” or gastrointestinal decontamination will be done on the wildlife to see the content of its stomach.

“When crocodiles attack and consume human parts, they don’t digest them immediately. They take a week to fully consume them. Through gastric lavage, the experts will see what is in its stomach – look for human parts,” he said.

Fabello warned the locals not to hunt the crocodile themselves as that would be against Republic Act No. 9147 or the “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.” Celeste Anna Formoso/