Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte dismissed the statement of his father, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who advised him to “communicate with concerned government officials” instead of lambasting them.
The mayor was referring to the vice mayor’s rant in Facebook and his privilege speech at the City Council calling on the Philippine Coast Guard, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and the Bangayans who owned the fleet of barges, to take action on the non-wearing of lifejackets by the thousands of passengers that frequently travel the route from Davao City to the Island Garden City of Samal on a daily basis.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Vice Mayor Duterte said he was not lambasting the concerned government agencies and their officers but that he was merely raising his concern in a manner he thinks would catch the attention of the officials.
The vice mayor said that he had long been raising the issue but they always fall on deaf ears. He said that when he again saw for himself last weekend the danger of having a full-packed barge and its passengers without lifejackets, he decided to take action and texted the PCG official.
VM Duterte said he was however frustrated by the reply made by the PCG Davao Commodore Lito dela Cruz that barges are not among those required to have the passengers wear lifejackets during voyage.
“I’m sorry Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Marina, Coastguard, and Mr. Bangayan ug ni react ko kay nabutang sa delikado ang ako pamilya ug ang mga tao. Dugay ko na ning gi bring up few years ago but it fell on deaf ears. And since nagpa bungol bungol sila, atong kusgan ang tingog that’s why now they’re listening. I was not angry, I was stressing a point. If you think I went ballistic, then so be it. I’m not doing this for anyone in particular, but for the safety of the people I serve. Di ko maghulat nga naay maunlod, I’m sorry but that’s not my style. I am convinced that you would have done the same if you were in my shoes. One does not need to be a vice mayor or a public official to fully understand the perils that the people get thru once on the vessel. I have all the right to raise the issue, We were paying passengers and our safety is their priority and concern. It’s not all about the money. Expect a louder voice if this goes unheeded again,” Vice Mayor Duterte said.
In his privilege speech before the City Council Tuesday, April 28, the vice mayor narrated how he saw for himself the failure of the barge operator in providing life jackets to its passengers as stipulated in Memorandum Circular No. 123 which requires “wearing of lifejackets during boarding and/or prior to departure by all passenger vessels with open-deck accommodation”.
Aside from non-wearing of lifejackets, Vice Mayor Duterte said that the passengers were also made to stand in between vehicles or at the side of the ship during voyage. He also observed that overloading of passengers in the barge whose main purpose is only to carry goods and vehicles.
Duterte urged the City Council to conduct a probe on the matter which he said he had long been raising since he was then the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay. The vice mayor also warned all government agencies concerned as well as the owner of the barges to immediately take action to ensure the safety of the riding public.
The barges plying the said route is owned by the Bangayan family that also owns a fleet of taxis operating in the city. The Bangayans are friends of the Dutertes and had been very supportive of the Duterte administration.
Vice Mayor Duterte however said that his family’s close ties with the Bangayans must be set aside since the welfare of the public is already at stake.
After VM Duterte’s call, several ferryboats have started requiring their passengers to wear lifejackets which are usually just kept above the passenger seats.