The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Tuesday created a fact-finding team that will look into the sinking of MV Maharlika 2 off Southern Leyte last week.
PCG Commander Armand Balilo said the panel will call witnesses, crew and the captain of the vessel.
The team will be headed by Commodore Gilbert Rueras, commander of maritime safety services.
Balilo said the panel will look at the ferry’s manifest to determine how many people were on the vessel when it went down.
The ship sank after being battered by huge waves brought by Typhoon Luis that hit several provinces in Northern Luzon on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Philippine Navy personnel conducting search and rescue operations recovered five more bodies also on Tuesday, bringing to eight the number of fatalities.
Naval spokesperson Lt. Commander Marineth Domingo said one of the victims was a two-year-old baby girl.
“The five recovered cadavers were confirmed casualties from MV Maharlika 2 and were already claimed by their relatives,” according to Domingo, She said only one remains on the missing persons list.
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, also the chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), said the probe by the PCG and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) will determine the real cause of the vessel’s sinking.
“Until their official findings come out, we would not know what caused the sinking of the ship,” Gazmin said during a briefing at the NDRRMC office in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd said the sinking of MV Maharlika 2 could not directly be attributed to the typhoon since there were four or five other ships along the same route at the time but they all reached their destinations safely.