THE Philippine Coast Guard District Central Visayas (PCGDCV) will close both north and south entrances of the Mactan Channel on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020, to give way for participants of the 2020 Sinulog fluvial or seaborne procession.
Lt. Junior Grade Michael John Encina said the PCG has already issued a notice to mariners informing them of the entrances’ closure between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Lct Teofilo Camomot, the galleon that will carry the image of Señor Sto. Niño, will leave the Captain Veloso Pier in Lapu-Lapu City around 6 a.m. It is expected to dock at the Cebu City Pier 1 by 9 a.m. for a mass celebration at the Basilica del Sto. Niño.
This year’s seaborne procession will traverse the first Mandaue-Mactan Bridge. Due to the ongoing construction of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway, the procession route will not include the Pasil area.
Encina encouraged vessel owners who plan to join the seaborne procession to register their vessels on Tuesday, Jan. 14, which is the last day of registration.
Commander Rodolfo dela Peña Jr., PCG Cebu acting station commander, said only 55 vessels had registered for the sea activity as of Jan. 13. The registration started in December 2019.
He said they expect around 100 vessels to join the procession this year. He said they might extend the registration period. However, he warned that unregistered vessels that will join the procession will be apprehended.
He said he already wrote a letter to the Maritime Industry Authority to expedite the issuance of a special permit to operate for the activity.
“We will provide a flag as marker for those registered vessels. We have no maximum allocation for the vessels as long as they are registered,” he said in Cebuano.
Around 90 vessels, including small motor bancas, joined last year’s seaborne procession.
There’s a chance the activity will be canceled if the weather and the sea condition do not cooperate on Saturday, Encina said.
“We will not risk the safety and security of the participants. However, as per monitoring, the weather will be fine during the procession,” he said in a mix of Tagalog and English.
Al Quiblat, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Cebu Weather Bureau chief, said Cebuanos can expect fair weather on Jan. 18 and 19.
On Monday, Jan. 13, personnel of the PCG and the Police Regional Office Central Visayas and Basilica del Sto. Niño priests conducted a dry run to determine the duration of the procession.
The entire dry run lasted 59 minutes.
“Not exactly two hours, but we are trying to have it close to the two-hour allocation. Probably, by reducing the speed, it will last for at least one hour and 30 minutes. We also saw shallow areas earlier. Markers will be placed there,” Encina said.
Lct Teofilo Camomot is owned by Mandaue Shipping and Lighterage Corp. (WBS)