Colombia and Antigua collaborate to find missing man

The governments of Antigua and Barbuda and Colombia are reportedly working together to bring closure to the family of Jonathan Phillips, the young man who disappeared while bathing in the Melcocho River, in the rural area of the municipality of Cocorná.

Even though Colombian authorities have officially called off the search, Foreign Affairs Minister E.P. Chet Greene, told OBSERVER media that his ministry has been in constant dialogue with Colombia on the matter.

“We have been in dialogue with the authorities in Colombia. We have been in contact with the search mission, we are kept abreast on a daily basis about Phillips’ disappearance,” Greene said.

When the search was called off last week Wednesday, some of Phillips’ family used social media to call on the Antigua and Barbuda government to instruct Colombia to reconvene the search, but Greene said that that would be overstepping the boundaries.

“We cannot do anything about the fact that the search has been called off. We cannot even make such a request to the Colombian government, but we have a very good communication with them about what’s going on and they are informative,” he explained.

Meantime Phillips’ mother has been given an undisclosed amount of financial assistance by the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party government to fly to Colombia. The minister said that she left on Monday.

Once she arrives on Colombian soil, Greene said that arrangements have been made to have her collected at the airport by Colombian authorities.

 “They have agreed to extend protocols to her. They have agreed to give the mother all the information that she requires. She will travel to the site and they will answer all her questions,” he said.

He further said that the government is very thankful that Colombia has agreed to help in such a manner but, “I must admit that it’s a sad development.”

Greene said that the government is still optimistic that more information about Phillips’ disappearance will surface as the investigation continues.

“We still hold hope that at some point we get information that will unravel the mystery. We pray that the young man will be found alive somewhere, and if it’s not, then at least if his body is found there would be some closure,” he told our newsroom.

A reward has been offered by Colombian authorities for anyone who can locate the body or whereabouts of Phillips, a flight operations officer with LIAT airline.

Phillips and his aunt, Carol Lewis, arrived in Colombia just one day before the tragedy.

Reports are that Lewis and Phillips were part of a group of six bathers who swam in the river when a sudden surge swept them away.

The body of his aunt was recovered, however Phillips has not been seen since.

The tragedy happened on September 15, 2018.

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