FOR THE first time, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Cebu Station is requiring organizers of this Saturday’s fluvial procession to secure a permit.
PCG Cebu Station Commander Agapito Bibat said a 2014 memorandum circular from the agency requires a permit for fluvial parades.
Organizers of Cebu’s annual fluvial procession, held in honor of the Holy Child Jesus, have less than a week to comply with the requirement.
But Mildred Simolde of the Mandaue Santo Niño Association Inc., which helps organize the activity, assured that a permit will be secured.
“A permit is necessary for the conduct of a fluvial procession. Without a permit, who do we hold accountable if something happens?” Bibat said in a press conference organized yesterday by the Mandaue City Public Information Office.
Last year’s fluvial procession, held every January as part of the Sinulog feast, went on without a permit, according to organizers. Bibat assumed as head of the PCG Cebu Station last October.
Bibat said a permit application will allow the PCG to know details of the fluvial parade and prepare measures to ensure the safety of the participants.
The procession takes the icons of the Holy Child Jesus and Our Lady of Guadalupe from the Ouano Wharf in Mandaue City to Pier 1 in Cebu City. Hundreds of sea vessels join the parade every year.
Bibat said the permit comes with a fee of P1,000.
“We only learned about it this year,” said Simolde. The organizers, she said, will hold a final meeting today to iron out concerns.
Simolde added that the PGC has been a part of the organizing committee for the fluvial procession every year.
Although the PCG Cebu Station has yet to receive an application for a permit, it has been preparing for the event.
Bibat said marshals will be deployed to secure the participants. He said about 400 sea vessels, including motorized boats, are expected to join based on last year’s attendance.
But as of yesterday, only three have registered with their office.
Bibat said participating boat owners should attend a briefing to be organized by PCG to ensure a safe and orderly procession.
The PCG has issued some guidelines, which include the strict prohibition of overloading.
Liquor, firecrackers, prohibited drugs, firearms and other deadly weapons are also banned from the sea vessels. Balloons and other decors are also discouraged.
The PCG also requires participating watercrafts to have life jackets available for all passengers. Children 12 years old and below are also not allowed to join the procession.
Bibat said violators will be issued a violation receipt, which they have to settle with the Maritime Industry Authority.
He said more than 90 marshals will help secure the event. “As much as possible, we want to assign one marshal per boat,” he said.
The fluvial procession will start at 6 a.m.