Government agencies brace for Holy Week exodus

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Friday, April 11, 2014

THE government placed agencies responsible for maintaining peace and security on heightened alert in anticipation for the influx of travelers this Holy Week.

In a media briefing, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson, Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said around 148,000 PNP personnel were deployed nationwide to ensure the public's safety most especially in the places where large number of people are expected to flock during the Lenten season such as in parks, malls, churches and transport terminals.

"They (PNP personnel) were not allowed to take a leave unless for an emergency reason," he said.


The police personnel will also roam around the villages and residential areas since families are expected to "go out of town for a vacation."

The Filipinos take advantage of the opportunity to go to their provinces or to go on a vacation during the Holy Week.

Sindac said police will conduct mobile and foot patrol in the areas identified the "place of convergence."

He also advised the public not to update their whereabouts on the social networking sites to avoid being tracked by the criminal elements.

"I-post nalang nila after their vacation or pag pauwi na sila kasi mamaya kapitbahay lang naman nila ang mga balak na masama sakanila lalo na pag iniwan nila ang bahay nila na walang tao. Maaaring magtake advantage ang mga masasamang loob ngayon na karaniwan ng mga pamilya ay aalis sa kani-kanilang mga bahay para magbakasyon," he said.

PNP Public Assistance Desk (PAD) will be available in places such as churches, malls, plazas and transport terminal while Motorists Assistance Desk (MAD) will be installed in the roads wherein most motorists are expected to pass through such as in North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and South Luzon Expressway (SLEX).

PNP Highway Patrol Group spokesperson Senior Superintendent Elizabeth Velasquez said 80 percent of their members will be deployed to take charge in assisting the travelers during and after the Holy Week.

Velasquez, however, reminded the vacationers, particularly the drivers to always check "B.L.O.W.B.A.G.S." which means brake, light, oil, water, battery, air, gasoline, and self.

"Ang pinaka-mahalaga diyan ay 'yung 'self' kasi for example mainit ‘yung ulo nung driver or nakainom, more likely na maaksidente sila kaya dapat nasa mabuting kondisyon ang isang tao particular na ang driver kapag mag-babiyahe," she said.

For motorists’ assistance, the public may contact PNP-HPG through 090637445375 or 092057844305.

The PNP will be on heightened alert until after the Easter Sunday, April 20.

Meanwhile, amid the series of road mishaps which usually involve passenger buses, Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Undersecretary Dante Lantin said they are doing their best to inspect and strain the buses, particularly those travelling to the provinces before passengers continue to grow in numbers in accordance to the occasion.

Earlier, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II directed the provincial governors, city and municipal mayors and barangay chairmen to come-up with proper courses of action, as early as possible, in order to anticipate the expected heavy movement of people from different places, "putting their safety as a top priority."

Roxas also ordered the deployment of barangay tanods (village watchmen) who can serve as force multipliers and assist the members of PNP in keeping peace and order in their areas of jurisdiction, as well as in making sure that traffic is well-managed, clean-up operations are being conducted in all recreation areas, religious locations and transport terminal and to manage well the collection and disposal of garbage before, during and after the season of lent.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) placed all its units on heightened alert as shipping passengers start troop to major ship terminals across the archipelago for Holy Week vacation.

Commander Armando Balilo, Coast Guard Public Affairs chief said that their security personnel and their medical teams were placed along the passenger’s assistance booth on Thursday in anticipation for the influx of sea passengers.

Balilo said that it is customary for the agency that they beef up the security less than a week before the said occasion.

"Coast Guard units are also advised to ensure that all maritime activities are monitored 24/7 and that all PCG personnel and assets are ready and prepared to respond to any maritime incident," Balilo said.

He added that they have directed ship inspectors and Coast Guard K-9 teams to exercise extra vigilance in ports with random checks on passengers and luggage more than the usual. He also appeals for the patient understanding and cooperation of the passengers with regards to the tighter security steps enforced for the Holy Week and summer exodus to ascertain their travel safety.

The Coast Guard spokesman mentioned that as per coordination with the ship owners and operators, passengers should be at the seaport at least three hours before departure time, avoiding restricted cargo such as flammable liquids and solids, corrosive materials, toxic and infectious substances, compressed gasses, radioactive materials and explosives to avoid search delays and inconveniences.

Passenger Assistance Center booths will be manned jointly by teams from PCG, DOTC, Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), and the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA), also with close coordination with the PNP.

The PCG, however, warned and discouraged the shipping passengers from patronizing "fly-by-night" or also known as "colorum" inter-island shipping vessels this Holy Week season.

Coast Guard commandant Vice Admiral Rodolfo Isorena, on Friday, advised the public especially the local and foreign tourist that will spend their summer break and Holy Week festivities on the provinces and major beach resorts across the archipelago on the risk of riding in an unregistered shipping vessels especially that huge volume of passengers are already pouring along the different port and ferry terminals since last week.

"We are monitoring the situation right now especially that thousands of passengers are already pouring along the port terminals to be with their love ones this summer season" he said.

The PCG chief said that this activity by some "opportunist" operators shouldn’t be tolerated especially that there are risking the lives of their passengers.

"As far as we are concerned, those fly-by-night inter-island shipping vessels didn't have any insurance for their passengers and most of them have defective life rafts and life vests," Isorena added.

The PCG expected that these unregistered vessels will definitely appear this season because this is an opportunity for them to earn since major shipping lines now have a hard time in accommodating the huge volume of passengers rushing along the different port terminals in the country.

"Most of the shipping lines reported to us that they are now already starting to accommodate high volume of passengers and based on data they have submitted to us yesterday, around 40 to 50 percent na ang itinaas ng mga pasahero nila ngayon bakasyon," the PCG chief said.

For any questions or urgent emergency calls during a certain voyage, Coast Guard Action Center (CGAC) hotline 0917-PCG-DOTC is open 24/7. (Sunnex)

Local news

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