Coast Guard braces for surge of sea travels this Lent

The Philippine Coast Guard is bracing for the Season of Lent when the number of sea travelers heading to their hometowns and vacation spots are expected to swell.

Additional personnel from the PCG Deployable Response Group will be sent to various major ports in the country, including the ports of Calapan City and Roxas in Oriental Mindoro and Abra de Ilog in Occidental Mindoro, said Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo.

He said the PCG response group will be composed of Sea Marshals, Special Operations Group, K-9 personnel, and members of Special Medical Assistance Response Teams.

Tamayo ordered ship inspectors and Coast Guard Canine teams to “exercise extra vigilance in ports with random checks on passengers and luggages more than the usual” as part of government’s safety drive “Oplan Mahal na Araw.”

The Department of Transportation and Communication will also set up passenger assistance centers across the country from March 30 to April 14 to address concerns of sea-faring passengers and help ensure orderly and safe maritime travels.

To avoid delays, Tamayo advised passengers not to bring restricted cargoes like flammable and corrosive materials, toxic and infectious substances, compressed gasses, radioactive materials and explosives.

“Gun owners bringing their firearms should present complete documents, including Comelec exemption permit,” he said.

Sea travelers should be at the seaport at least three hours before departure time, Tamayo said.

The other Philippine wharves where security will be tightened this Lenten Season include the ports of Manila, Batangas, Cebu, Zamboanga, Odiongan in Romblon, Dalahican in Lucena City, Balanacan in Kawit/Sta.Cruz, Marinduque, Atimonan/Puerto Real in Quezon, Matnog in Sorsogon, Allen in Samar, Lipata in Surigao, Balingoan in Misamis Oriental and Camiguin.

Maritime accidents are common in the Philippines especially during holiday breaks as ship owners tend to overload their poorly-maintained vessels.

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