The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) will go on heightened alert from 16 December 2021 to 05 January 2022 in support of the Oplan Biyaheng Ayos: Pasko 2021 of the Department of Transportation - Philippines (DOTr).

As per directive of DOTr Secretary Art Tugade, PCG Commandant, CG Admiral Leopoldo V Laroya has instructed District, Station, and Sub-Station Commanders to work with concerned government agencies to ensure the safety and security in all ports, harbors, and appropriate areas where heavy influx of passengers are expected due to the Christmas season break.

To ensure the orderly operation of sea transport facilities, convenient travel of the riding public, as well as the safety and security of resort visitors, the PCG will undertake the following proactive measures:

1) conduct heightened vessel inspections to ensure seaworthiness of all watercrafts;

2) augment port personnel in managing passengers and maritime traffic;

3) man ‘Malasakit Help Desks’ in various seaport terminals for the provision of passenger assistance;

4) coordinate with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) for the processing of special permits for additional trips of vessels as the need arises;

5) perform foot patrols to ensure lifeguards, rescue equipment, and first aid facilities in beach, coastal, and island resorts are available and accessible;

6) prepare deployable response groups (DRGs) and contingency plans for maritime incidents / emergencies;

7) deploy personnel in critical areas to ensure Coast Guard visibility;

8 ) implement information drives among stakeholders and the riding public, specifically on maritime safety advisories during inclement weather;

9) provide frontline personnel to support the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in ensuring the observance of minimum public health standards at all times;

10) remind the riding public and vessel crew on the mandatory wearing of face mask and face shield, as well as the observance of physical distancing aboard passenger vessels and other water conveyances;

11) organize medical teams that will swiftly respond to any medical situation in ports and major resorts; and

12) initiate coastal clean-up activities to remind stakeholders, resort visitors, and the general public on the significance of marine environmental protection.

Moreover, CG Admiral Laroya has instructed Coast Guard units to make sure that the operations of colorum or undocumented watercrafts shall not be permitted through an intensified and sustainable public awareness campaign and strict enforcement of laws and regulations against violators.

“Our floating assets shall be strategically deployed in areas with expected heavy inbound and outbound of passengers. Meanwhile, our PCG capital ships and air assets will conduct seaborne patrols and maritime surveillances over major sea lanes and beach resorts, in coordination with concerned Coast Guard districts,” the Coast Guard Commandant added.

“We will also work closely with local Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and shipping companies and emphasize integrated commitment to security and safety in water transport services by improving and enforcing safety standards and regulations, such as inspection of baggage and implementation of security layers in ports and passenger terminals to prevent hostile elements from perpetrating terrorist acts and other focus of security threats, and likewise, to strictly prevent excess passengers during voyages,” CG Admiral Laroya furthered.

As the civilian arm of the PCG, volunteers of the PCG Auxiliary (PCG) have also been tapped to provide force augmentation and prepare for possible rescue operations and/or relief missions during the Christmas season.