X’mas exodus of ship passengers watched PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 22 December 2012 14:15

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday launched the “Oplan Ligtas Byahe” programs and placed all units under heightened alert as the agency prepares for the expected huge volume of shipping passengers this Yuletide Season.

Newly appointed Coast Guard commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena issued a directive during the agency’s command conference and reminded all their operating units to maintain high state of readiness in major port terminals nationwide this holiday season and advised the PCG Fleet which maintains and operates their vessel flotilla and air assets to be ready to respond to maritime emergencies

The PCG chief said that based on the marching orders issued by Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya, rescue units like disaster response and quick reaction teams composed of divers, paramedics, rescue divers and K-9 units should be on the high level of readiness so it can immediately respond to maritime and land based disasters caused by unpredictable change in weather.

He also underscored the importance of vigilance in undertaking maritime safety related measures such as intensification of ship’s inspection and also the more elaborate and careful conduct of pre-departure inspection.He also said that they should also pay attention to the number of passengers onboard and to conduct public awareness campaign to highlight safety during inclement weather especially to the fishing community.

Isorena also disclosed that they are keeping close watch of maritime activities in Cebu, Batangas, Iloilo and Bicol ports in view of the expected volume of passengers that will be using the RoRo nautical highway routes. He added that tourist spots like Boracay, Coron and Puerto Galera are also being monitored.

“All Coast Guard stations and detachments have likewise been placed on heightened alert and further directed to ensure that their personnel to be more visible and vigilant against overloading of vessels, lack of lifesaving appliances, improper lashing of cargo, and colorum vessels, among others, in coordination with shipping and local port authorities,” the PCG commandant said.

Admiral Isorena added that to strengthen security arrangements in the ports and on board ships, travelers should come early to ports and to travel light and likewise reminded them not to bring bladed weapons, firecrackers, noxious substances and flammable items, and unlicensed firearms.

The PCG chief’s directive also tasked all units nationwide to coordinate and encourage cooperation with other government agencies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) and their counter-parts in the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA).

Passenger terminal booths will also be placed in major port terminals nationwide to provide and render necessary assistance to those passengers that will encounter problem with shipping operators.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard chief assured the public that search and rescue operations for the missing fishermen during the height of Typhoon Pablo continues and will not be affected by the agency’s preparations for the Holiday Season.