Samal Island dads want Coast Guard to coordinate with City before stopping seacrafts during typhoons
Due to the recent two experiences of many people getting stranded in wharfs as the Philippine Coast Guard ordered stoppage of seacraft travel between Samal Island and Davao City due to typhoons Vinta and Agaton last December, several members of the City Council of the Island Garden City of Samal asked on Tuesday the agency to coordinate with the City Government before issuing no-travel orders to seacrafts during typhoons.
During the City Council’s session, Councilor Charles Ligan said that more than 2,000 people including himself going to the island were immediately stranded in wharfs in Davao City side on December 21, 2017 when the Coast Guard cancelled in the afternoon all travel of ferry boats and lanchas sailing between the mainland Samal Island and nearby Talicud Island as PAGASA declared Signal No. 1 of the Tropical Depression Agaton covering the islands.
He said that the City Local Government Unit needs to help during emergency situation as many people were stranded and complaining while some of them got sick, and when the order was the lifted they raced elbowing each other to get in first in the ferry boat, thus endanger themselves.
Ligan added that the Samal LGU could help, say in providing food packs to the stranded.
The councilor also said they need to be informed of the standard operating procedure of the Coast Guard in declaring suspension of boat travels due to typhoons, even as he batted on the need for Coast Guard to coordinate specifically with the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC).
Councilor Guillermo Olden asked why the ferry boats were prevented from sailing when there were no big waves battering between Samal and Sasa, Davao City observed in late afternoon that day.
Coast Guard Lt. George Maganto, who was invited by the City Council to shed light on the matter, reasoned out that they are guided by their agency’s guidelines which have specific conditions to be met before they declared no-sail zone and time.
He said that the Coast Guard made no-travel directives effecting at 3:30 p.m . of Dec. 21, 2017 and 6:00 a.m. of Jan. 1, 2018 based on the Signal No. 1 advisory of PAG-ASA.
He said that the Coast Guard though is “flexible”, agreeing on the proposition of Vice Mayor Orly Amit that even if it is Signal No. 2 and depending on the situation like there are no big waves they would still allow travel provided that it is day time, “from sunrise to sunset.”
He said that in Signal No. 1, one of the conditions is that the boat must arrive “30 minutes before sunset.”
Councilor Ruel Bantillo, on the other hand, asked if the Coast Guard could allow to stretch its deadline until sunset to 6:00 or 6:30 p.m. as Samal residents who are working in Davao City usually arrive at the wharf at that time given the travel time from their workplaces from 5:00 as hindered by traffic.
He said that Samal Island by geography is especially located as it is protected by the terrains of Mati, Davao Oriental.
Maganto responded that the Coast Guard is considering the Samal-Sasa sea as “special area” but he sticks with their guidelines though he added they are amenable to the suggestion of having to closely coordinate with the City Government.
There is a need to have an agreed SOP of the City Government and the Coast Guard on this matter, Councilor Ligan further proposed.
Vice Mayor Amit then called for a meeting with the City Council, Coast Guard, CDRMMC, and PAGASA to recommend measures to Mayor Al David Uy.
Meanwhile, in an interview, a German expat married to a Filipina residing in Samal Island said on condition of anonymity that he and three of his companions were caught stranded in Mae Wess wharf at Km. 11, Sasa, and for 13 hours they had to endure staying on their vehicle without sleep until the next day when boat travel resumed.
“It was a terrible experience, with many of us left alone under heavy rains at night, while the boat personnel left for home, and the guards were soundly sleeping,” he recalled.
He added they could not leave either as their car was trapped in the long line while the wharf’s gate was closed. “Really a terrible experience!”
Samal Island has four entry wharfs, which are the Sta. Ana Wharf for Talicud Island, which takes an hour of travel to it, and the Maewess ferry wharf, DavSam ferry wharf, and the Sasa Onse (Km 11) wharf of the lanchas, which only take about 15 minutes of travel to the main island. – Cha Monforte, Correspondent