The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has declared heightened alert status from August 15-29 for the resumption of face to face classes (Oplan Balik Eskwela).
Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista directed PCG to coordinate with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) and the Cebu Ports Authority (CPA) for the 24/7 operations of DOTr Malasakit Help Desks (MHDs) in major ports, harbors, and other maritime transport facilities.
The DOTr MHDs shall also be manned by a medical team to provide first aid and other necessary assistance for sea passengers.
Aside from receiving and handling complaints from the riding public and maritime stakeholders, the DOTr MHDs shall also report possible threats to public safety, provide meals to stranded passengers, and assist in booking road transport services.
“Our Coast Guard Districts will also deploy additional K9 teams and security personnel to intensify vessel safety checks and pre-departure inspections to ensure convenient, safe, and secure sea transport services,” according to PCG Commandant, CG Admiral Artemio M Abu.
“They are also in charge of reminding vessel crew and passengers on their compliance with minimum public health standards amid the ongoing pandemic,” he noted.
PCG will also conduct 24/7 maritime patrol operations to avoid “colorum” or undocumented watercraft from operating as they are more prone to maritime accidents.
Furthermore, the Coast Guard Commandant has directed the Coast Guard Fleet and the Coast Guard Aviation Force to deploy vessels and air assets for the conduct of maritime surveillance over major sea lanes in the country.
“The PCG will work closely with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to maintain security and safety in sea transport services,” says Abu.
“We call on the riding public to comply with stricter inspection of baggage and support the implementation of additional security layers in ports and passenger terminals to prevent hostile elements from perpetrating terrorist acts.”
Meanwhile, PCG Districts have also assembled deployable response groups (DRGs) that are ready for immediate dispatch during maritime accidents, typhoons, and other emergencies that will occur during this period to promote the safety of lives and properties.