Korean investors in hot water over Capas tragedy

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Koreans operating a tourist office for Mt. Pinatubo trekkers in Capas, Tarlac are in hot water following the tragic death of two French tourists, a Belgian and three Filipinos at the O’Donnel River at the height of typhoon “Kiko” Thursday.

The fatalities were Martine Cholet, 53, French, Therry Caillot, 49, French, and Walter Steylemans, 48, a Belgian, and Filipino rescuers Armando Bacani, of Barangay Patling, Fernando Ordono, a local guide, and Frederick Reyla, a barangay tanod, both of Barangay Sta. Juliana. Rescued were Radjon Araga, Beatrice Le Guvader, Dudier Bazin, Philippe Navarre, Philippe Guinebert and Marie France Fouchard, all French nationals, and Koreans Han Chung, Xang Hua and Han Sany. They were taken to the Central Luzon Doctor’s Hospital.

Ronnie Tiotuico, director of the Department of Tourism in Central Luzon, said the Korean operators of Pinatubo Development Corp. in Barangay Sta. Juliana established a new route dubbed “Skyway” to the volcano crater.

Tiotuico, however, said “Skyway” was built without the necessary permits from government agencies concerned such as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, and the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources and Public Works and Highways.

He said Phivolcs earlier recommended the use of the streambed of the O’Donnel River as the safest route to the Mt. Pinatubo summit.

The foreign tourists initially registered with the PDC which gave them the permit to trek the volcano on board three vehicles.

Police Regional Office 3 director Chief Supt. Leon Nilo dela Cruz created a task force headed by Tarlac police director Senior Supt. Rudy Lacadin to probe the tragedy.

Meanwhile, League of Mayors in the Philippines- Tarlac Chapter president and Capas Mayor Reynaldo “Reycat” Catacutan said yesterday that no one was to blame for the tragedy.

“Walang sinumang dapat sisihin sa nangyari dahil ang lahat nang ito ay hindi natin kagustuhan,” Catacutan said.

“Although blaming a lot of people is just a common scenario in times of tragedy, it should be set aside and put to rest,” the mayor said.

The mayor said aside from the policies they have adopted on trekking Mt. Pinatubo, they do not allow anyone to climb the area if there is an announced typhoon signal.