Sunday, 30 May 2010

Coast Guard to public: We’re ready for rainy season

by Joel E. Zurbano
Manila Standard

The Coast Guard has assured passengers traveling by ship of safe and unhampered passage before the opening of classes in June and the start of the rainy season.

Coast Guard commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said the agency’s personnel and equipment are ready and in full alert.

As part of the Coast Guard’s proactive measures, Tamayo said that they wouldimplement strict and proper conduct of mandatory pre-departure inspections; adequate and proper cargo lashing on board vessels; making sure that lifesaving appliances and firefighting equipment on board are complete; and ensuring the safe and orderly conduct of embarkation of passengers and loading of cargo strictly within the vessel’s authorized capacity.

The Coast Guard will also consider the good operating condition of the vessels’ main and auxiliary machines/engines; close monitoring of maritime incidents by respective command center and high state of preparedness to promptly and effective respond to such incidents; obtain latest weather forecast from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (Pagasa) and strictly implement the guidelines on movement of vessels during heavy weather; and the setting up of the help desks.

Tamayo said since they are 19,600 personnel short from achieving their ideal number of 25,000, they are maximizing on their equipment and relying on the cooperation of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, shipping lines and the Bureau of Customs to help boost their preparation.

“The Coast Guard strength remains at 5,400. But what is important in our preparations is that our vessels and all our aircrafts are prepared. It is not necessary that we improve on our number but improve the Coast Guard capability,” Tamayo said.

At present, the Coast Guard has two islander planes and two helicopters, they also have about 80 to 100 rubber boats and three units of Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats.

National Red Cross chairman Sen. Richard Gordon also contacted Tamayo and the two agencies agreed to coordinate fully in search and rescue operations. The Red Cross has amphibian vehicles, which can function in land and water.

“Senator Gordon told me that I should send him personnel who could operate the amphibian trucks,” Tamayo said.

He added that they also had to consider that from the month of June the country annually hosts 20 typhoons, producing heavy rains, strong winds and flooding. The Coast Guard has often been called on to respond to lend search and rescue missions in times of disasters.

After the devastation brought about the storms last year, communities have begun preparing for the rainy season and have asked the Coast Guard to provide crash courses on search and rescue operations in Metro Manila.

Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cdr. Armando Balilo said since last month they have been receiving requests to provide training to communities from different parts in Metro Manila.

“The first request came from community leaders from Paranaque City . There are also barangays from Quezon City , such as Barangay Bahay Toro, which were affected by last year’s floods. We also receive requests from some parts in Caloocan and Taguig City ,” said Balilo.

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