By Raymund Antonio
With Holy Week fast approaching, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has been placed on heightened alert in anticipation of the massive influx of sea travelers who will be going to their home provinces.
PCG Commandant Admiral Elson Hermogino said that Coast Guard units nationwide are now on “alert” status to ensure the security in all ports and ferry terminals and safety of the public.
Hermogino said they would be closely monitoring the known tourist destinations like Palawan, Boracay Island, Bohol and Cebu.
“We make sure that our pre-departure inspection teams would ensure that the ship capacity is within authorized limit. Our men are there to make sure that there is no overloading,” he said before the PCG send-off ceremony for the deployment of its three vessels for the Holy Week.
Holy Week runs from Palm Sunday to Black Saturday, or April 14 to 20 this year, and will be capped by Easter Sunday on April 21.
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 time vacationing with their families.
As part of its preparations, the PCG has deployed K9 teams, special operations forces, harbor patrols, and ship inspectors in ports inspecting the passengers and their luggage.
Hermogino emphasized the readiness of all the Coast Guard’s personnel at all times in any case of maritime emergencies.
The commandant said they have Emergency Response Teams at the ready to respond to maritime incidents.
But despite the security and safety measures in place, he admitted there are still shipping passengers who defy regulations and safety precautions during the Holy Week.
“One of the challenges that we face is our hard-headed countrymen who do not want to follow the guidelines. Even if there are warnings, there are still those who defy regulations,” he said.
Hermogino cited those who would patronize “colorum” boats or take an overloaded boat because of their desire to reach their destinations on time.
“Some of our countrymen, in their desire to go home immediately, would risk riding a colorum. Let us practice patience,” the PCG official said.