PH coast guard officer to receive prestigious international award for saving passengers of MV Siargao Princess

Image via Philippine Coast Guard | Facebook
  • Probationary Ensign (P/Ens) Ralph Ofalla Barajan will receive the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea
  • The off duty coast guard did a great job in ensuring all 62 passengers of the MV Siargao Princess were safe after the vessel was being struck by big waves last year

Almost a year after he saved the passengers of MV Siargao Princess, Philippine Coast Guard officer, Probationary Ensign (P/Ens) Ralph Ofalla Barajan will receive the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.

Image via Philippine Coast Guard | Facebook

Barajan, who was off duty at that time, rescued 62 passengers on board the vessel while on the waters of Cebu on November 7, 2019.

The Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Honorable Antonio Manuel R. Lagdameo, submitted the nomination. The recognition has been decided by the IMO Panel of Judges, under the Chairmanship of IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.

According to its website, “The purpose of the Award is to provide a unique, international recognition for those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery, displaying outstanding courage at sea.”

Barajan received a commendation from PCG Commandant, Admiral George V Ursabia Jr.

He said, “P/Ens Barajan’s display of courage, determination, and presence of mind which led to the successful rescue of 62 victims, including himself is indeed worthy of emulation and respect for him, his family, and for the PCG – as a perfect demonstration of the Coast Guard service.”

On October 14, he will also be recognized during the celebration of the PCG’s 119th founding anniversary.

On November 7, 2019, P/Ens Barajan was awakened by distressed passengers at around 11:05 Am due to almost 2-meter high waves entering the vessel. He alarmed the Coast Guard Sub-Station Bato and Coast Guard Station Southern Cebu for help.

While waiting for rescue, he distributed lifejackets and asked crew members to take care of the children on board. He then advised the captain to abandon ship. He guided all passengers in jumping off the vessel and was the last to leave.

Image via Philippine Coast Guard | Facebook

While floating on the water, he grouped the passengers by tying their life jackets. This aided in the swift rescue operation and ensured everyone’s safety.

The passengers were surprised after learning that he was also a passenger but acted like a captain in the way he handled the incident.

Many other agencies recognized Barajan, including the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Central Visayas, Provincial Government of Bohol, De La Paz Barangay Council, Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Office, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Alpha Phi Omega Internationals Inc., Alpha Phi Omega Philippines Inc., Basic Education Department Holy Name University, and the Holy Name University College of Health Sciences.