THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has placed all units on “alert status” ahead of the Holy Week travel season and the expected influx of ship passengers, the office of PCG Officer-In-Charge Commodore Joel S Garcia said.
Garcia has directed all Coast Guard units to strictly implement maximum security measures and maintain regular monitoring of the seagoing public.
Garcia announced that the PCG units all over the country will be on “alert status” from April 5 to April 20.
Commodore Garcia gave emphasis on the preparedness and readiness of all the Coast Guard’s personnel assets at all times in any case of maritime emergencies or situations.
“It is part of our duty to ensure the safe and convenient sea travel of everyone who will utilize sea transport during the Lenten Season. Thus, ship inspectors and Coast Guard K-9 teams are also instructed to exercise extra vigilance in ports and to conduct random checks on passengers and their luggage to ensure that no dangerous cargoes or explosive materials will be carried on board passenger and cargo vessels,” Garcia’s order said.
He added that pre-departure inspections will be intensified to prevent ships from overloading and to ensure that the vessels are seaworthy prior to their departure, and have adequate life-saving equipment on board. Ships must also present all valid pertinent documents prior to granting of clearance to depart.
Passengers Assistance Center (PAC) booths will be established in every port nationwide and will be manned by the PCG together with personnel from the Department of Transportations (DOTr), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), and the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA), in close coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP). Coast Guard medical teams will also be placed on standby at the booths to provide medical assistance.
The PCG advised travelers to be at the seaport at least three hours before the departure time, and to avoid carrying prohibited cargoes such as flammable liquids and solids, corrosive materials, toxic and infectious substances, compressed gases, radioactive materials and explosives, and to present complete documents if carrying firearms to avoid search delays and inconvenience. Likewise, it urged passengers riding on boats with open decks to cooperate fully with the regulation on wearing of life jackets during the voyage.