Coast Guard prevents 16 vessels from leaving Cebu

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MORE than 200 passengers were stranded in Cebu yesterday when the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) prohibited 16 vessels to sail due to bad weather.

Cebu Coast Guard Commander Rodolfo Villajuan canceled boat trips yesterday afternoon because of a low-pressure area observed by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Villajuan said the suspension of trips will be lifted once the weather improves.


As Pagasa expects rainshowers or thunderstorms the entire week, the Mandaue City Accident Control and Emergency Response Team continues to monitor the water level in Mahiga and Butuanon Rivers.

As of yesterday afternoon, the water levels in the two rivers remained normal, said Mario Perez, head of the team.


Rough seas caused a motorized banca or outrigger motorboat to capsize off Barangay Marikaban, Sta. Fe in Bantayan Island last Saturday. One of the boat’s 10 passengers was wounded.

Due to bad weather, the PCG canceled boat trips to Camotes and Bantayan Islands in Cebu; Ormoc; Leyte; Bohol; and other ports in the Visayas.

“Mas mabuti na handa tayo kasi buhay ang nakasalalay dito kung ipilit natin silang palawigin sa karagatan (It’s better to be cautious because lives are at stake if we allow boats to sail in this weather),” said Villajuan.

He advised fishermen and banca owners to check weather updates before sailing.


In Mandaue City, Perez urged barangay officials to prepare their evacuation plans.

“So far, we have not heard of any untoward incident caused by the rains,” Perez told Sun.Star Cebu in a phone interview.

Officials in landslide-prone barangays have also been alerted, he said.

Casuntingan Barangay Captain Oscar del Castillo said he sent personnel to warn residents in Sitio Lub-ang of a possible landslide.

“I have advised the residents to stay temporarily with their relatives living in safer areas until the weather improves,” Perez said.


In August last year, two landslides hit Sitio Lub-ang, damaging seven houses. Except
for two, all houses were repaired and re-occupied.

Aside from landslides, residents also face the threat of flashfloods as their homes are located near the Butuanon River.

The City Housing and Urban Development Office is helping the residents acquire a lot for their relocation.

Del Castillo said some 120 families, who were organized into a homeowners' association, have identified a lot in Barangay Casili for the relocation site.

Chief Insp. Laurel Almirante, head of Sta. Fe Police Station in Bantayan, said waves battered the banca owned by Jeryl Desabille.


One of the 10 passengers, 24-year-old Jessel Descamento, was hurt when she was hit by the banca.

Almirante told Sun.Star Cebu that the banca was bringing passengers to Super Shuttle Ferry, which was not able to dock at the Sta. Fe Wharf because of the bad weather.

Super Shuttle Ferry was bound for Hagnaya wharf in San Remigio.

Meanwhile, the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM) Office sought to improve its communication system by partnering with mobile services provider Smart Communications Inc.

PDRRM Officer Niel Angelo Sanchez said Smart will provide satellite phones to help Capitol get updates from towns and cities whenever calamities and emergencies occur.

Communication to northern Cebu was cut off during super typhoon Yolanda on Nov. 8.

Aside from the communication system, the PDRRM office is also requesting for more emergency response vehicles.

Sanchez has been meeting with San Francisco Vice Mayor Al Arquillano to come up with a consolidated disaster preparedness plan using the purok system.

Under the purok system, families are encouraged to adopt an early warning system and prepare a contingency plan during calamities.

The PDRRM office has not yet received reports of recent preemptive evacuation anywhere in the province.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2014.

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