By Calvin Cordova
CEBU CITY – This early, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Central Visayas is already preparing for the fluvial procession of the centuries-old image of Señor Santo Niño, which is held every year in January.
The PCG started accepting registration, Friday, for seacraft that will be participating in the fluvial procession.
The fluvial parade is one of the highlights of the Sinulog celebration, which is held every year on the third week of January.
“The deployment plan for the fluvial parade is already in place. We started the registration early so we can prepare and achieve our goal of a zero maritime casualty in relation to the event,” said Lt. Jr. Grade Michael Encina, information officer of PCG 7.
Those who plan to join the fluvial parade are advised to visit the Coast Guard Station-Cebu to know what are the necessary requirements.
“Martime safety certificate, certificate of registration that can be secured from the Maritime Industry Authority are among the requirements for those who want to join the parade,” said Encina.
PCG 7, the lead agency in providing maritime safety and security during the course of the event, has already conducted a coordination meeting.
The meeting was attended by representatives of maritime stakeholders, Police Regional Office-Central Visayas, PNP Maritime Group and Basilica del Sto. Niño.
Because of the ongoing construction of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway or the Cebu-Cordova Bridge, the route of the parade will be shortened.
The parade will depart from the Captain Veloso Pier at the Naval Forces Central Headquarters and will proceed to the Marcelo Fernan Bridge.
From the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, the parade will proceed to Pier 1 in Cebu City where the Sto. Niño image will be disembarked and will be brought to the Basilica del Sto. Niño for a Mass.
“Last year, the parade went around the Malacañang sa Sugbo but because the clearance to maneuver in the area has tightened due to the bridge construction, the parade will no longer go there,” said Encina.
At least 80 sea crafts participated in last year’s parade. The participating sea crafts will be divided into three divisions based on their gross tonnage.
The Mactan Channel will be closed during the parade, which usually starts at 6 a.m.
“We have to close the Mactan Channel so that everything will be in order,” said Encina.
Last year, the Mactan Channel was closed for about four hours starting at 4 a.m.