San Carlos City mayor barred docking in city waters
Despite the executive order issued by San Carlos City Mayor Rene Gustilo barring foreign vessels originating from China from entering city waters, the M/V Sea Music, which arrived from the Chinese port city of Ningde, was permitted to lay anchor off Sipaway island. Philippine Coast Guard-Negros Occidental (PCG) chief, Lt. Commander Jansen Benjamin, said the shipping company that operates the vessel appealed to the authorities to allow the ship to enter city waters on “humanitarian grounds.”
The PCG commander said the vessel, which was crewed by 21 people, 15 of whom are Filipino citizens, was short on food and fresh water. He said a boarding team, including an official from the Bureau of Quarantine, visited the vessel and confirmed the crew are in good health and no one was experiencing any sickness while en route to the country.
“The shipping company promised that the ship will immediately leave once provisioning is done,” he said.
Benjamin said the vessel had already received its supply of food, although, as of press time, the barge that was supposed to bring the fresh water had yet to arrive. He noted, it would be more dangerous for the vessel if local officials did not allow the vessel to resupply their fresh water, pointing out, the freshwater supply is needed in order to maintain cleanliness and hygiene aboard the vessel.
The Coast Guard official also explained, the vessel was supposed to go on “lay up” in the city, or would park off the city’s coast while awaiting their next assignment. However, due to Gustilo’s order, the vessel will proceed to Cebu instead.
Based on the executive order, which was issued last Thursday, the mayor based his decision on guidelines issued by the Department of Health and recommended the ship be redirected to Cebu City or Manila. He added, the city is not ready to handle 2019 novel coronavirus cases.
Gustilo affirmed foreign vessels originating from China, Hong Kong, and Macau will be barred from entering city waters./DGB, WDJ