ILOILO City – Coastguards are stepping up security and safety measures at ports in anticipation of the influx of passengers during the holidays. In particular, they will be checking luggage and cargoes for contraband items.
K9 units of the Philippine Coast Guard are stationed at predeparture areas for strict inspections as part of Oplan Ligtas Biyahe Christmas 2018.
Lieutenant Commander Ramil Palabrica, spokesman of the Coast Guard Western Visayas, said the “random inspections” are aimed at “seeing to it that there are no contraband items, including prohibited substances, and illegal cargoes on board.”
Palabrica said they are expecting passengers bound for their hometowns to throng the ports this week.
Today is the beginning of the Simbang Gabi, the traditional nine-day novena masses leading to Christmas Day.
The Coast Guard has been implementing Oplan Ligtas Biyahe Christmas 2018 since Dec. 10. The operation plan will last until Jan. 5, 2019.
Ultimately the coastguards are working to ensure passenger safety, which includes immediate response to any incident.
“The Coast Guard has quick response reaction teams detailed at the ports for that,” said the agency spokesman.
“Floating assets” like rubber and aluminum boats are ready for their use, he said.
The Coast Guard also activated Passenger Assistance Desks at the ports for complaints and concerns.
Coastguards are working with the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Ports Authority and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for this.
Moreover the Coast Guard is also checking pump boats and fast crafts to make sure they are not overloading and they have lifejackets.
Palabrica advised passengers to book their trips and head to the ports early to avoid long lines and other unnecessary hassle.
In addition the Philippine Coast Guard is watching out for popular beach destinations where many vacationers are expected to go.
Beach resorts must have lifeguards who can respond to any untoward incident, said Palabrica./PN