By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) station in Northern Negros Occidental said yesterday that they are now all set for this year’s “Oplan: Semana Santa” which is set to begin on Palm Sunday, April 10.
PCG-Northern Negros Occidental station commander Joe Luviz Mercurio said they are now on a “heightened alert” status as part of Holy Week observance.
Because of this all leaves among their personnel are now cancelled and they were ordered to report to their respective posts.
The PCG is also expecting an increase in passenger traffic for this year’s Holy Week vacation period, as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue to be lifted nationwide.
As with previous regulations, all passenger vessels will be inspected prior to departure to ensure that they are seaworthy, and with the recent protocol set by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) allowing 100 percent seating capacity on inter-island passenger ships, making sure that passenger vessels are not overloaded.
Furthermore, the PCG will also ensure that health protocols set by the Department of Health (DOH) such as the wearing of face masks will be observed at all times.
The PCG also reminded travelers not to carry prohibited items such as sharp objects so as to avoid any inconvenience.
Each PCG sub-stations in Negros Occidental will also place a quick reaction team on stand-by to immediately respond to any incidents that may arise during the Holy Week observance.
Aside from sea travel, the responsibility of inspecting mountain and beach resorts in the province also falls under the PCG’s jurisdiction.
According to Mercurio, they have recently inspected the resorts in the northern part of the province and thus far they are mostly compliant to safety standards.
Mercurio said the inspections aim to ensure that the resort lifeguards are properly trained with proper certificates, and the resort’s lifesaving equipment are in place.
Inspection of the resorts in the province will also continue throughout this week.
Mercurio also added that both travelers and vacationers must prioritize their own safety at all times./DGB, WDJ