By Raymund Antonio
Two weeks before the Holy Week, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has started its preparations by inspecting various ports and ferry terminals in anticipation of the influx of ship passengers.
This came after PCG commandant Rear Admiral Elson Hermogino directed all Coast Guard units to take proactive security measures to ensure the safe sea travel of the public.
He announced that the PCG units nationwide will be on “alert status” from March 25 to April 1.
Hermogino said the agency’s district commanders will “strictly implement maximum security measures and maintain regular monitoring of all ports” across the country.
The commandant emphasized the importance of vigilance in implementing maritime safety-
elated measures such as intensified ship inspections to ensure vessels are seaworthy and have adequate life-saving equipment on board.
PCG personnel must ensure there is no overloading of passengers and ships present all valid pertinent documents before they are allowed to sail, he said.
Holy Week runs from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday, or March 25 to 31 this year, and is capped by Easter Sunday on April 1.
The Holy Week break is considered as the busiest travel period of the year as Filipinos go home to the provinces to observe the annual tradition and spend vacation with their families.
PCG issued guidelines to remind sea travelers of the following:
• Arrive at the seaport at least three hours before departure
• Refrain from bringing prohibited cargoes, including flammable liquids and solids, toxic and infectious substances, corrosive materials, radioactive materials, explosives, and compressed gases
• Present complete documents if carrying firearms
The PCG will assign personnel at passengers assistance center booths at ports, along with personnel from PCG Auxiliary, for the concerns and other needs of shipping passengers.