Coast Guard gears up for Christmas exodus

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Wednesday launched the "Oplan Ligtas Biyahe" and placed all its units under heightened alert as the agency prepares for the expected huge volume of passengers in various seaports in the country this Yuletide Season.

Coast Guard commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena issued a directive during the agency's command conference reminding all PCG operating units to maintain high state of readiness in major port terminals nationwide during the holiday season and advised the Coast Guard fleet to be ready to respond to maritime emergencies.

The PCG chief said that 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 they 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 as well as paying attention to the number of passengers on board and to conduct public awareness campaign to highlight safety during inclement weather especially to the fishing community.

Isorena noted 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 Ro-Ro (roll on, roll off) nautical highway routes.

He added that tourist spots like Boracay in Aklan, Coron in Palawan and Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro 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 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.

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

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

Local news

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