Thursday, January 19, 2017

PCG ultimatum on colorum
bancas in Bohol: 2 months

TAGBILARAN CITY, January 13 (PIA)--End of days for colorum motorized banca owners is near. 

No sooner than two months after getting installed as the new Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) station commander for Tagbilaran Coast Guard Station, Lieutenant Junior Grade Jimmy Mendez Berbo would lead his enforcement team in apprehending violators, right where the action is. 

Cognizant of the massive lack in manpower to guard and impose maritime safety especially for tourists who are led to believe the bancas they hired for whale and dolphin watching, island hopping or dive tours are without registration papers, newly assumed chief of Tagbilaran Coast Guard District has a neat idea. 

When guarding the embarkation areas for dolphin and whale watching, dive and island hopping tours is impossible for a handful of PCG men, LtJg Berbo said they would rather be there out in the sea where the activity happens. 

The PCG have been playing cat and mouse with unregistered motorized banca owners who continue their illegal trade despite the numerous call for them to register. 

Late last year, the PCG impounded about 16 motorized bancas apprehended for illegal operations.

Immediately after, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) offered their mobile registration in Panglao and even brought down the fees by implementing a pro-poor scheme, reports Norma Gutierrez, Bohol MARINA chief. 

About 99 boat owners came home with registered bancas, about 6 more given extension to comply for incomplete requirements, she added. 

But in Bohol, with the marine ecosystem tourism giving a sensible income to fishermen, the decision to moonlight as tourist transport came in naturally, a newly registered boat owner confessed. 

The requirements however for maritime safety must be complied to protect the passengers and the owners operators, stressed Lt. Berbo at the Kapihan sa PIA Thursday. 

The registration requirements, a job for the MARINA also assures operators and passengers of the boats sea-worthiness, the presence of life preservation devices like life jackets, life rings and communications equipment to direct a search and rescue to the boat's location and bearings.

We will check the registration papers and the boat's compliance to marine safety standards, Berbo said, and then we will bring the boat for impound until the owners can present the proper papers, he added. 

As this developed too, PCG chief Berbo said two months, that is all these illegal operators have before we start going after them. 

Six months, and after six months if the same illegal operations is not stopped, i will volunteer for a relief to another assignment, he said. 

If that assurance is not good enough, then the colorum banca operators would have to disregard the words of a be-medalled and highly decorated officer who, in his last stint, was guarding the dangerous waters of Zamboanga and keeping its notorious ports from smuggling and human trafficking. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)
Maximizing its marine safety mandates, PCG Tagbilaran Coast Guard Station Commander LtJg Jimmy Berbo plans to get to where the action is in the drive against colorum bancas operating off Panglao and elsewhere in Bohol. The plan implements in tow months. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol) 

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