Three city councilors conducted an ocular inspection Wednesday morning in several wharves in Davao City to see if the sea vessel operators are complying with the law requiring all motorized seacrafts to have their passengers wear or hold lifejackets while on voyage.
Councilors Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr. of the Committee on Public Safety; Al Ryan Alejandre of the Committee on Tourism and Beautification; and Victorio Advincula Jr. of the Committee on Social Services first visited the Sta. Ana wharf where several sea vessels going to the Island Garden City of Samal are docked.
Before the three councilors arrived, they have already coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard stationed in Sta. Ana wharf. PCG personnel were already checking on the passenger sea vessels docked at the said wharf for compliance.
Mario Reta, owner of a boat plying the Davao and Isla Reta route, said that there is no need for the passengers to be wearing lifejacket as their vessel is a closed-deck vessel. He reasoned out that only the open-deck vessels are required to wear a lifejacket.
MARIO RETA, OWNER OF A PASSENGER SEA VESSEL
When the councilors arrived in the wharf, they readily checked the passenger vessels and noted that Isla Reta passengers are not wearing lifejackets while waiting for the start of their voyage.
Councilor Abellera confronted Reta about their non-compliance that led to a heated exchange. This prompted Abellera to call Maritime Industry Authority 11 (Marina) director Felisa Orongan to give light on the issue.
FELISA ORONGAN, MARINA 11 chief
As if not satisfied with the Marina 11 chief explanation of an existing Marina Memorandum Circular No. 176 which mandates all motorized bancas, be they a closed-deck or an open-deck vessel, for the wearing or holding of lifejackets by passengers, Reta asked the passengers if they wanted to wear the lifejackets or not.
In the end though, Reta conceded and accepted the Marina circular and requested the passengers to each get one lifejacket and hold them before the start of their voyage. The trip from Sta. Ana wharf to Isla Reta usually takes about an hour.
Reta assured the public and the authorities that aside from lifejackets, they have other safety measures in place like buoy rings, life rafts, and PA systems.
(Isla Reta boat)