Oro river rafting guide suspended

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

THE group of local rafting operators has suspended the river guide who acted as leader of the raft that capsized more than two weeks ago, causing the death of a tourist from Loboc, Bohol.

Vitalino Espulgas, president of the Oro Association of Rafters (OAR), said the group will not allow Philip Posaras, the river guide, to do his work because of the incident.

“Posaras will be suspended if we simply base it on the OAR rules. He has definitely violated the rules,” Espulgas said on Friday.


He did not, however, specify what violations Posaras committed.

OAR is currently investigating the incident last June 13 when Aizza Mae Balbin, the 26-year-old nurse who joined a whitewater rafting run, was killed when she failed to surface after the raft she and others were riding overturned.

The association started its investigation on the incident last week together with the City Tourism Office and the Department of Trade and Industry.

Espulgas said that typically, an investigation will only take up to two weeks.

River guides
CAGAYAN DE ORO. River guides of Kagay Journey-White Water Rafting and Kayaking search for a guest who had gone missing Friday, June 13, after the raft she was on with four others capsized. This photo was taken on June 14, 2014. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro file photo)

“We have to go to the site where it happened, we check the water level and the flow of the river, other factors that may have caused Balbin’s death like the debris underwater, the equipment used, [among others],” he said.

“Even when the investigation is not yet finished, but by the looks of how the pieces of evidence show, he is certainly suspended,” he added.

Posaras is a council member at Barangay Mambuaya. He has been rafting for three years already.

Espulgas said that with this duration, Posaras can qualify as a river guide. But there are also cases that even for the longevity of the river guide in the industry, when he lacks skills, he still cannot become a river guide, he added.

“There are even junior river guides that have been guiding for almost five years yet they still belong to the junior level because they still lack the appropriate skills to become a senior river guide,” he said.

OAR is the legitimate association of the river rafters and outfitters who can give sanctions to those who have violated the group’s rules.

Espulgas said that once they complete their report, they will submit it to the Task Force Rapids (TFR), a City Government-created body tasked with monitoring the local rafting industry.

TFR consultant and former Department of Tourism-Davao regional director Dorothy Jean Pabayo said that Posaras is still in state of trauma.

“He is still medically attended and we have no plans of rushing it because we understand his situation now,” Pabayo said.

She advised that once he is completely done with the therapy from the doctors, he will undergo a debriefing.

“As to OAR's suspension, that is theirs na. As for me from the TFR, we will still look into it,” Pabayo added. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on June 30, 2014.

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