Mourning mother calls for justice after Philippine boat disaster

By Neil Jerome Morales and Adrian Portugal

MANILA (Reuters) -Domingo and Glenda Aparentado stood side by side in their crowded living room on Friday, saying their last goodbye to their 24-year-old daughter Denice who was among 27 people killed when a ferry capsized near the Philippine capital.

“I carried her for nine months in my womb and raised her,” said Glenda, next to Denice’s coffin which had been brought to their house in the coastal town of Binangonan before the funeral.

“I want there to be justice, I want to know who should be held accountable for what happened.”

Denice was travelling home after work when fierce winds fanned by Typhoon Doksuri hit the boat on Laguna Lake early on Thursday afternoon.

Coastguards said the passengers panicked and moved to one side of the vessel before it flipped over. Authorities have promised to investigate the disaster and find out how many people were onboard.

Domingo told Reuters he rushed to the scene as soon as he heard the news and found his daughter’s body in the water. “I tried everything I could but she died.”

“According to the survivors the boat was overloaded with passengers,” said Glenda. “In this kind of situation, the coastguard shouldn’t allow travel when there are strong gusts of wind.”

The couple stroked the sides of the casket and adjusted a photo showing Denice smiling in academic robes. Relatives and friends packed around in the living room and kitchen and bedroom next door.

Across the area, similar scenes played out as the Philippines took in the news of its second worst boating disaster this year. Thirty-three people died in a ferry fire in the south in March.

At the lake, divers searched for any more passengers who might be trapped under the vessel, but the seven-hour rescue and retrieval operation yielded nothing, the coastguard said.

“We have called for investigation already, including on our personnel,” coastguard spokesperson Armand Balilo told CNN Philippines television.

(Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Andrew Heavens)