Rules allowing boats to sail during typhoon approved
Iloilo City (5 March) -- A new memorandum circular that allows small boats engaged in short distances in special areas in Western Visayas to sail during fair weather despite a storm has been approved by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Memorandum Circular No. 02-10, otherwise known as ?Interim Guidelines on Movement of Vessels and Motorboats Engaged in Short Distance Voyages in Special Areas,? amended Memorandum Circular No. 01-09 which strictly prohibits small vessels and motorboats to sail in special areas during fair weather despite these areas being declared to be under public storm warning signal No. 1 by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The special areas referred to in the memo circular are the Iloilo Strait between Iloilo City and Guimaras and Tanon Strait between Boracay Island and Caticlan, Malay, Aklan.
These areas are considered as such because they are located within bays and rivers or enclosed by natural coves or sheltered zones whose natural topographical characteristics make their sea areas less vulnerable to adverse effects of the prevailing weather condition.
On the other hand, short distance voyages refer to those that involve a distance not exceeding four kilometers (2.16 nautical miles), can be completed within a maximum of 30 minutes, and whose point of origin, route and point of destination are within a line of sight.
PCG Deputy Commander for Western Visayas and Iloilo Coast Guard Station Commander Capt. Eduardo Fabricante said the new memo circular, which was signed by PCG Commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, is set to take effect this month.
It will be recalled that the PCG recommended for the amendment to the previous memo circular after debates and questions arose over the prohibition.
Fabricante said they conducted a series of public consultations with boat operators and other stakeholders in Iloilo City and Boracay in November last year to gather inputs for the new memo circular.
However, the new set of guidelines provides that vessels and motorboats may sail under the said situation when all of the following conditions are strictly satisfied: voyage shall only be from sunrise to sunset; sea condition is not rough; prevailing wind speed in the area is not more than 30 kph or 16 knots; rain showers in the point of origin, route or destination should not be moderate or heavy; there is good visibility or the route and destination is seen by the naked eye from point of origin; number of passengers shall not exceed 75 percent of authorized capacity of vessel; passengers and crew of boats with open decks shall wear lifejackets prior to departure; masters and boat captains shall ensure observance of maximum precautionary measures; presence of designated look-out and standby emergency boat at origin and/or destination in case assistance will be needed; and, there shall be a credible communication link between vessels and motorboats and designated standby emergency boat and the PCG.
Meanwhile, the PCG is now a full-pledged bureau under program and policy coordination with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) as an attached agency and can exercise functions to promote and safety of life and property at sea by virtue of Republic Act No. 9993 signed by President Arroyo on February 12, 2010.
The new mandate provides the PCG with a higher degree of autonomy with which to manage its personnel, resources and activities.
The PCG used to be an arm of the Philippine Navy and later was placed under the Office of the President. (PIA 6) [top]