PCG: The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) launched the “Oplan Ligtas Byahe” program that will kick off from December 18 until January 06 next year and placed all units under heightened alert as the agency prepares for the expected huge volume of shipping passengers this Yuletide Season.
Coast Guard Commandant Vice Admiral Rodolfo D Isorena issued a directive during the agency’s command conference that all operating units must maintain a high state of readiness in major port terminals nationwide this holiday season. The Coast Guard Fleet, which maintains and operates their vessel flotilla and air assets, must likewise be ready to respond to maritime emergencies.
The PCG Chief said that based on the marching orders issued by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya, rescue units such as 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 disaster caused by unpredictable change in weather.
He also underscored the importance of undertaking maritime safety related measures such as the elaborate and careful conduct of pre-departure inspection, a strict attention to the number of passengers onboard, and conducting public awareness campaign to highlight safety during inclement weather especially to the fishing community.
Admiral Isorena also disclosed that they are keeping a close watch on the 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 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 arrive early on ports and to travel light. He likewise reminded them not to bring bladed weapons, firecrackers, noxious substances and flammable items, and unlicensed firearms.
Coast Guard units nationwide were tasked to coordinate and encourage cooperation with other government agencies such as the national Disaster Risk Reduction Management Center (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 place in major port terminals nationwide to render necessary assistance to those passengers that will encounter problem with shipping operators.