EXCEPT for minor issues, President Benigno Aquino III expressed satisfaction on the security measures being implemented by some major terminals in Metro Manila which he inspected on Tuesday.
The Chief Executive visited Pier 12 in Port Area, Manila the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and the Victory Liner Bus Terminal both in Pasay City to oversee the preparations being undertaken by various concerned government agencies.
In Port Area, Aquino ordered Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Philippine Coast Guard Commandant Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena to enhance the security and emergency procedures in the seaports, particularly on the signs inside the ship.
"On the ship itself, there were signs that tell you where you are supposed to go, but all (written) in English. Then I said perhaps the instructions should be made simpler in the event that there's an emergency.... These are being taken cared of now by both Marina (Maritime Industry Authority) and by the Coast Guard," he said.
The President, however, cited the enhanced efforts initiated by both the shipping and government authorities to prevent the shipping of drugs and prohibited items.
"What they have been doing was really thorough to prevent all of this contraband from getting on board," the President said.
The Chief Executive was informed that the law enforcers, together with the vessel's security personnel, arrested a passenger who was found in possession of shabu.
After his visit to Pier 12, Aquino proceeded to Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 4 and immediately inspected the operations and security preparations there.
The President inspected the ticketing booth, x-ray area, check-in counters of the Sea Air and pre-boarding gate at the departure area of NAIA Terminal 4. He then went to NAIA Terminal 3 and inspected the airport facilities.
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado briefed the President on the status of passenger volume and traffic, airport security and assistance measures.
The President reminded the government agencies namely, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Health, Bureau of Fire Protection, among others to enhance the implementation of their respective tasks to protect the travelling Filipinos and tourists.
From NAIA, Aquino proceeded to the Victory Liner Bus Terminal on Edsa, Pasay City, to inspect security preparations.
He commended the government agencies concerned and the bus operators for implementing initiatives in ensuring the safety of the riding public.
He cited the provision of equipment for drug testing and alcohol ingestion of the drivers and conductors who submit themselves for voluntary testing.
"So it's impressive that we have this kind of equipment that is already being utilized to enhance the safety of our people," he said.
The DOTC's preparations in various ports and terminals are in line with its "Oplan Ligtas Biyahe: Kwaresma 2013," which aims to ensure convenient, efficient, and safe travel for motorists and commuters during the Holy Week.
12,000 strong police
Some 12,000-strong police force will maintain the peace and order in the capital during the Lenten break, Police Chief Inspector Kim Molitas, public information officer of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said.
He said help desk will be setup to assist travellers while police visibility will be enhanced in various places of convergence.
"We already established desks in terminals, malls, churches, financial institutions like banks and pawnshops and yung mga lugar na maraming pumupunta this Holy Week," Molitas said, adding 600 uniformed personnel will maintain the help desks.
The NCRPO will also mobilize the tourist police to guide both foreign and local travelers who will be travelling to far places, Molitas said.
Motorists are also advised to follow the "BLOWBAGETS" campaign, a reminder to check the following: battery, light, oil, water, brakes, air, gas, engine, tires and self.
"When traveling, they must prepare themselves mentally and physically for the long drive or commute ahead," Molitas added.
Meantime, the DOTC announced in its Twitter account the suspension of Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) operations during the Lenten break.
Both transportation lines will not be operating starting March 28 (Maundy Thursday) until March 31 (Easter Sunday).
LRT's last trip will be on March 27 at 8 p.m. while its regular operations will resume on April 1 at 5 a.m.
Number coding scheme
The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), for its part, will utilize the services of its 1,800 personnel for the Holy Week.
Emerson Carlos, MMDA assistant general manager for operations, said the agency is now in the implementing stage of the "Metro Alalay Semana Santa 2013," which started last Friday.
The focus of its operations will be on crucial areas and perennial traffic choke points such as Balintawak, McArthur Highway, Ortigas Avenue Extension, Sumulong Highway, Marcos Highway, Roxas Boulevard, Alabang, Pasay, and Cubao.
MMDA will also suspend the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (UVVRP) or the number coding scheme starting March 27 (Wednesday) until April 1 (Monday).
Carlos said commuters are advised to plan ahead for a fast and hassle free travels.
"Schedule their trip; keep their cool and hindi lang dapat yung sasakyan kundi pati yung driver ay kundisyon sa biyahe," he said.
Court operations suspended
Court operations nationwide, meanwhile, will finish early on Wednesday at 2 p.m. to give time for employees to travel to the provinces for the Holy Week break.
Court Administrator Midas Marquez said covered by the order issued by Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno are the trial courts, Court of Appeals, Sandiganbayan, and the Supreme Court.
Sereno also did not convene her fellow justices for a regular session on Tuesday. The SC will hold summer sessions beginning next week in Baguio City. (SDR/Glaiza Jarloc/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)