THE diving operator who led a group of student-divers, including Agnes San Pedro who died barely a month ago in Mabini, Batangas, did not have a business permit from the local government of the said town.
The Office of the Mayor of Mabini confirmed that Safety Stop has been operating and accepting divers without a business license.
On Oct. 17, 2016, Safety Stop, a local dive operator based in Mabini, conducted an advanced open water certification course for seven students, which included the 35-year-old San Pedro, an experienced diver and marathon enthusiast.
San Pedro died on the second day of the advanced diving course during a deep dive with a target depth of 30 meters.
According to some members of the group, upon their ascent, a diving assistant tasked to keep tabs on San Pedro lost sight of her due to poor visibility.
The latter was found at around 10 a.m. the next morning, almost 24 hours after she was lost. She was found at about 32 meters and not far from where they touched down the previous day.
The PNP has already ruled out any foul play in the incident. However, besides Safety Shop’s lack of business permit, some witneses during the incident also observed that Erico Montes of Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) did not observe protocols in the said dive.
As per PADI manual, with a total of seven students, Montes, the instructor of the group, should have been assisted by at least two or more certified dive masters or assistant instructors.
Reports said that he was assisted by two non-professional divers who are not trained to handle classes. Also, classes were done while a ban was issued for the weekend by Coast Guard due to Typhoon Lawin which caused bad visibility during their dives.
Witnesses said that even on a good day, the dive site Montes chose is known to have bad visibility because of continuous volcanic bubbles rising from the sea floor.