By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Iloilo and the Maritime Industry Authority-Region VI (Marina-6) permitted the resumption of motorbanca trips between Guimaras and Iloilo yesterday morning.
According to a memorandum signed by Marina-6 Director Jose Venancio Vero, Jr., the decision was made following a directive from the Marina-Central Office and as a means to address the matter of individuals still stranded in Guimaras.
Operations, however, now come with certain conditions, including requiring passengers to wear lifejackets throughout the entirety of the trip and vessels can carry up to 75 percent of their authorized capacity.
According to a report released by the Joint Iloilo City-Guimaras Incident Command Post, there were a total of 10 individuals found not to be on any vessel manifest.
In addition, motorbancas are only be allowed to operate from sunrise to sunset and all vessels must carry distress signals or equipment.
Operations will also be incumbent on the weather and trips will be suspended if winds exceed a Force 3 Beaufort scale, roughly seven to 10 knots, with wave heights up to 0.5 meters.
Earlier, Guimaras Governor Samuel T. Gumarin called on President Rodrigo Duterte to resume motorbanca operations pointing out the suspension has affected the local economy and claimed continued operations would offer an “immediate resolution.”
The governor said the situation has isolated the island province and affected more than just the transport sector, pointing out, changes in the supply of goods and the corresponding fluctuations in prices.
Trips between Guimaras and Iloilo were suspended earlier this month as 31 people were killed when three boats plying the route capsized during rough weather in the Iloilo Strait./DGB, WDJ