A team from Bulacan Rescue on Monday morning retrieved the bodies of two college students of the Bulacan State University who both drowned at Bakas River in Barangay Matictic in Norzagaray town last Saturday as well as those of the two girls at the Angat River in San Rafael town.
One of the fatalities, Jaysie Ronwill Balitoasan, 19, of Barangay Caingin, Meycauyan City and president of the university’s Student Council, was retrieved around 5 a.m., while Jericho Burgos, 17, of Barangay Bagong Bayan, Bulakan town, was later found around 10 a.m.
Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) head Liz Mungcal said the victims, together with members of the Bulacan State University Journalism Society, went to the Bakas River to shoot their short film entry to the Sine Bulacan Film Festival.
She added that the students ignored the warning of the locals that the river is treacherous as they went on to swim and shoot their film.
The strong current swept away the victims whom witnesses said were pulled down in the so-called Tres Marias’ Rock where they were presumed to have drowned.
Since Saturday, Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado personally supervised the retrieval operations but strong currents reportedly caused by the release of water from Angat Dam made it difficult for the rescuers.
Alvarado requested dam officials to temporary stop discharging water so the retrieval operations can proceed.
Similarly, two girls also drowned at Angat River in Sitio Hulo, Barangay Caingin in San Rafael town last Saturday.
They were identified as Myka Nicolas, 16, and Nikki Cruz, 8, both of Barangay Capihan, San Rafael.
Police said the body of Nicolas was recovered on the same day of the incident while Cruz was recovered on Sunday at a part of the river in nearby Bustos, Bulacan.
It was learned that the victims, together and their relatives, went to the river to clean the garbage truck of Barangay Capihan but the girls swam at the deep part of the river that resulted in their drowning.
Meanwhile,Vice Gov. Daniel Fernando said the Sanguniang Panglalawigan will conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation into the drowning incidents.
He said local and barangay (village) authorities should be strict in warning the people who want to swim in the river, adding that swimming should be strictly prohibited when the river is “angry” or “wild.”
Malolos City Mayor Christian Natividad said dam officials should install warning systems and come up with precautionary systems when releasing water from the dams.
“Bulacan is host to three big dams, Angat, Ipo and Bustos. Proper warning systems should be be put in place to avoid untoward incidents,” Natividad added.