Safety in sea travel

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Monday, March 30, 2015

THE Philippine Coast Guard Davao Station has stepped up measures to ensure safety of sea travelers who are spending the Holy Week and summer vacation on the Island Garden City of Samal.

Other than close monitoring of motorized boats servicing the Davao City Samal/Talikud Island route, the Coast Guard is also set to deploy more than 50 personnel in various jetty ports in the city as part of its Operation Ligtas Byahe Kwaresma 2015.

In an interview at the sidelines of Monday's Kapehan sa Davao, Coast Guard Davao Station Lieutenant Commander Dann August A. Carino said they have also included seven divers and personnel who will be assigned in seven aluminum boats that will patrol the Davao Gulf.


Carino said they have also set up passenger assistance centers, together with the Philippine Ports Authority, Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and Red Cross personnel, in passenger take-off points, particularly in Panacan and Sasa.

He said these centers will monitor excess passengers, crowd control, and safety and security issues.

"The Coast Guard Station Davao already conducted an aggressive inspection campaign on boats traveling from Davao City to Samal, Talikod Island wherein we are checking their life jackets together with Marina to ensure that they have papers from Marina," Carino said.

He said the schedules for the most number of outgoing passengers from the city to Samal are during Fridays and Saturdays and Sunday afternoon and Monday morning for incoming passengers from Samal.

Operation Ligtas Byahe Kwaresma 2015, according to Carino, is a national undertaking done by the Philippines Coast Guard especially in areas high influx of sea passengers during the Holy Week are expected.

He added that the said operation started last March 27 and will run until April 6.

Carino also said they are also beefing up coastal patrols to remind the the public of observing safety when travelling on sea.

This developed after the drowning incident that happened when a boat capsized on Friday.

It was earlier reported that the incident happened around 4 p.m. when eight children aging three to 11 years old went swimming together with their 63-year-old grandfather from Seagull-lid, Punta Dumalag in Barangay Matina Aplaya, Talomo District and was sailing back for home at NHA Bangkal on their own boat that overturned along the way due to loss of balance because most of the passengers sat on one side of the boat.

The incident took the lives of four of the children, including their grandfather, while the rest were confined at the Southern Philippines Medical Center for treatment.

Carino said that based on their investigation, the area were the children drowned was only four feet deep.

"When it comes to the sea, it is hard to respond because if you will look at it, your coast guard is far from the areas. Our speed boats are still in Sta. Ana and it will take us 20 to 30 minutes when responding with the speed boats in areas like Punta Dumalag or Bangkal," he said.

Carino added that their problem is with those who own private boats, which do not secure life vests that are being used as service for families.

With this, he advised owners to keep even empty bottles, which can be used in case the boat capsizes.

Belle Marquez from Red Cross safety services, speaking at the same forum, said that kids should always be accompanied by adults especially during sea travels.

For the Holy Week, Coast Guard Station Davao will be deploying more than 50 personnel to secure beaches and passenger ports in the city.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 31, 2015.

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