'National Maritime Week' kicks off with sea drills

PROTECTING public ports from threats is one of the objectives of seaborne law enforcers as the National Maritime Week is being observed nationwide until Friday, September 30, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) in Cagayan de Oro City said.

To effectively protect the ports from attacks and other forms of sabotage, PPA manager Isidro Butaslac Jr. said all the stakeholders, the Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Police, and the Philippine Navy, among others, must have proper coordination.

“In case of any emergency, we need to be properly coordinated since time is of the essence,” Butaslac told reporters at the sidelines of the maritime security exercise held at the Macajalar Bay and at the Cagayan de Oro port Friday.

He said it is very important that the protection of the passengers coming in and out of the sea ports is maintained.

The conduct of the maritime drill, said Captain Leovigildo Panopio, commander of the Philippine Coast Guard District Northern Mindanao, is crucial to determine the preparedness of the law enforcement agencies concerned.

For its part, the Coast Guard, Panopio said, is on standby round-the-clock to respond to any emergency.

“We are prepared for any eventuality. We are for prevention [so no untoward incidents will occur],” Panopio said.

He said the Coast Guard can deploy its personnel and patrol boats immediately, most especially if there are reports of sinking ships or a fisherman is lost at sea.

Hundreds of personnel from the Navy, Coast Guard, Maritime Police, partner agencies, and students from various schools participated in the drill which included rescue, attacks, and simulated fire.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Shipping: Indispensable to the World” which was conceived by the International Maritime Organization, the maritime policy-making body of the United Nations.

By virtue of Presidential Proclamation 1094 issued in 1997, the National Maritime Week is celebrated annually. (JJJ)
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