Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Colorum banca crackdown, 
sea lanes in Panglao eyed

TAGBILARAN CITY, August 26 (PIA)--If plans push through, taking the short cut route through the sea lanes between Balicasag Island and mainland Panglao would be banned.

And, for colorum banca operators in Panglao, Pamilacan and Baclayon, happy days may be almost over as a crackdown would happen soon.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Tagbilaran Station Commander Benjie Quinisio bared this following meetings and consultations from stakeholders.

The move to close the Balicasag strait from traffic came as most of the shallows in it have been declared marine sanctuaries and allowing sea traffic can be dangerous to these protected areas, Quinisio said.

Other than possibly damaging marine sanctuaries, the sea lane is also a popular day and night dive site that sea traffic adds up to the risk of divers getting hurt while negotiating treacherous currents here.

Quinisio shared the Task Force Kadagatan report to the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) Meeting Thursday, just as the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Committee on Tourism also finished its fact-finding report on an accident that left a Dallas police officer dead.

While on a dive in Bohol a few days before getting wed to a Boholana fiance, a diver and his buddy were run over by a speedboat and were severely injured.

The accident came even as complaints about unregulated dives and dangerous dive operations have been recorded in Panglao and in several areas with dive offers.

Subsequent investigations by the SP also revealed that the dangers of operating dives is compounded with several dive workers are aliens without work permits.

The boats used and chartered for some dives are operated illegally, the boatmen, unlicensed.

Called colorum, many of these boats could not be registered owing to a standing government policy of putting up a two-way radio communications on the boat prior to registration, for communications tracking and rescue purposes.

All of these concerns fall under Task group Kadagatan, which is among the nine multi-sectoral response groups under Task Force Dagon.

Task Force Dagon is a community based anti-crime and peace and order monitoring group each responsible of overseeing strategies and plans to adopt proactive steps in crime prevention, disaster risk reduction and management as well as ensuring sustainable growth and development of Bohol.

Following consultations, the task force proposed the adoption of sea lanes in Panglao.

Experts said sea lanes need to be legislated in as much as marine sanctuaries are determined by their legislated global positions.

Moreover, on colorum banca, also called habal-habal banca operations, Commander Quinisio bared that a crackdown has been agreed anytime soon, with the PCG heading the enforcement team.

In fact, the coast guard told members of the PPOC that they have arranged with the City Government to use the K of C Promenade as an impounding site for bancas caught operating without permit.

Other than running for dives, colorum bancas are widely used to ferry tourists to and from island hopping and dolphin watching activities in Panglao, Balicasag and Pamilacan.

Other than operating without registration, thus uninsured, boat operators hardly know the rules of engagement in dolphin and whale inter-action, often chasing these marine mammals to satisfy their guests.

This style has largely been the cause of marine mammal injury that clamors for regulations have been sounded ever since. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)

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