BORACAY ISLAND, Philippines – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has ordered mandatory use of life jackets to all passengers of sea vessels entering and exiting Boracay Island.
The directive was prompted by a series of accidents involving motor bancas amid the inclement weather.
“Dapat bago sila pumalaot titignan muna nila ang panahon kung merong gale warning. Masama ba ang panahon? Malaki ba ang alon? Pag ganoon, wag na sila magtuloy kasi malalagay lang sa alanganin ang buhay nila,” said Aklan PCG Commander LCDR Ramil Palabrica.
(Before heading out to sea, they should check for any gale warning first. Is the weather bad? Are the waves too high? If so, they should not proceed or they’ll just be putting their lives in danger.)
Meanwhile, due to the effects of the southwest monsoon or habagat, PCG has closed Caticlan Jetty Port. Passengers may proceed to Tabon Port in order to board for Boracay.
Also, Cagban boat terminal is closed to passengers and they are directed to Tambisaan Port for safety and to avoid large waves in the eastern part of the Island.
“Iyong mga bigger boats nga natin nagti-take shelter doon sa may likod ng Boracay para makaiwas doon sa malaking alon dito sa front beach, so how much more kung ang maliit na motor bangka na two-man capacity. Hindi kakayanin,” explained Palabrica.
(Even the bigger boats take shelter behind Boracay to avoid the large waves at the beach front, so how much more for smaller motor boats with a two-man capacity?)
Aside from life jackets, Coast Guard personnel also advise passengers to bring flashlight and make sure their cellular phones are fully charged to be able to call for help while at sea.
PCG also recommends plastic gallons or styro buckets as alternative floating devices. It is also important, according to PCG, to monitor weather advisories to be forewarned and prevent further mishaps at sea. – Vincent Octavio / Marje Pelayo