OFF TO GUIMARAS. Guimaras-bound people board a motorboat at the Iloilo Ferry Terminal. Due to typhoon “Ompong” the Philippine Coast Guard is prohibiting motorboats from leaving Iloilo City beyond 6 p.m. Western Visayas is not in the typhoon’s path but it would enhance the southwest monsoon and thus bring rains to the region. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – While typhoon “Ompong” (international name: “Mangkhut”) is in the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), fishermen should refrain from putting out to sea, according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Western Visayas.

Although the typhoon’s trajectory is northern Luzon, it would enhance the southwest monsoon and thus bring rains to Western Visayas, the state weather bureau said.

Until “Ompong” has left the PAR, it would be wise for fishermen to temporarily halt fishing, stressed Ramil Palabrica, public information officer and chief of staff of PCG Region 6.

“Ompong” blows maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 255 kph.

It is expected to make landfall over Cagayan-Isabela area on Saturday morning.

Last night at around 6 o’clock, trips of motor bancas plying the Iloilo-Buenavista (Guimaras) and Iloilo-Jordan (Guimaras) routes were suspended.

This “preemptive measure” aimed to ensure the safety of passengers, said Lieutenant Rodolfo dela Peña, PCG-Iloilo station commander.

According to the Department of Science and Technology, “Ompong” would be the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the country this year.

“We cannot predict the weather. We do not want to put our passengers at risk,” said Palabrica.

The 6 p.m. cutoff time for motorboats may be carried out as long as the typhoon is within the PAR, said dela Peña.

These motorboats are servicing thousands of passengers daily. On regular days the make several trips between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Dela Peña said the preemptive measure was decided during a meeting with the motorboat associations of Jordan and Buenavista.

There are about 35 Buenavista-bound motorboats using the Iloilo-Guimaras Terminal in Fort San Pedro and 30 Jordan-bound motorboats using the Ortiz wharf.

“During peak hours in the afternoon, there are more than 200 motorboat passengers being transported,” said dela Peña.

Only the trips of fast crafts plying the Iloilo City – Bacolod City route is not affected by the 6 p.m. cutoff time since their scheduled last trips are at 5 p.m. (With a report from the Philippine News Agency/PN)

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