Coast Guard on heightened alert for the holidays

THE Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental has stepped up its monitoring of all sea-faring vessels in anticipation of the influx of tourists and returning residents to the provinces during the Yuletide Season.

Dumaguete Coast Guard Station Commander Donna Liza Ramacho said Monday, December 19, they are now on heightened alert status beginning December 17 up to the first week of January 2017.

Public assistance desks are set up at major ports in Dumaguete, other parts of Negros Oriental and the nearby Siquijor island-province, which is part of the Coast Guard Dumaguete Station’s area of coverage, Ramacho said.

K-9 teams and special operations group personnel are deployed to man these public assistance desks to ensure the safety and security of sea travelers, she added.

Ramacho said overloading of sea vessels is their primary concern especially with passengers taking last-minute trips to catch up with the twin celebrations of Christmas and New Year.

The Coast Guard commander has reminded her personnel to always make a head-count and recount of passengers before clearing a vessel for departure.

For bigger vessels that entail long travel hours, Coast Guard personnel detailed as sea marshals are on board, she added.

In Dumaguete, only the vessel of 2GO shipping lines has sea marshals as it takes about 22 hours to travel from here to Manila, the Coast Guard commander said.

The skippers or boat captains are asked to render a report to the Coast Guard every hour or so to determine the current sea condition, said Ramacho.

Continuous monitoring and patrolling is also undertaken as part of the joint Task Group on Anti-Terror Threat in the seas of Negros Oriental and Siquijor and nearby areas, she said.

Previous reports identified some parts of the Visayas as potential targets of kidnapping activities by threat groups like the Abu Sayyaf, triggering travel advisories from the United States Embassy and the British Embassy in Manila to take extra precautionary measures when visiting this part of the region.

In a related development, the Coast Guard is set to deploy to Dumaguete City a D-300 patrol boat to augment the current floating assets of the PCG in Dumaguete, Ramacho said, who had earlier requested for a bigger patrol vessel for Dumaguete.

The DS-300 is currently on standby in Cebu City but is available at any given time and ready to deploy when needed here, according to Ramacho.

The Coast Guard commander said she is hopeful that the DS-300 Coast Guard vessel will be deployed to Dumaguete by the first week of January. (PNA)
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