Samal barges hit

Vice Mayor claims Ro-Ro passengers in danger over wrong safety protocols
VICE MAYOR Paolo Duterte has formally asked the committee on public safety to investigate the safety procedures of roll-on, roll-off vessels at Km. 11, Sasa, particularly on the use of life jackets and life vests.

Duterte on Tuesday spoke at the plenary in yesterday’s sessions asking the Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority and the local government unit of Samal Island to sit down with the committee to clarify the protocols.

According to the vice mayor, the passengers aboard the barges to and from Samal Island were not required to wear life jackets.

He added that the passengers also had to wait outside their vehicles, or, in the case of vehicles whose doors could not be opened because of the tight spaces, stay in the vehicles for the duration of the trip.

Duterte then asked the committee to investigate whether passenger barges were overloaded.

The vice mayor said he was angered by the response of the PCG that passengers riding the barges were not required to wear vests since the vessel was an open-decked ship.

“What they told me was that only motorized bancas are covered by the regulation and not enclosed vessels such as the barge,” he said. “This shocked me.”

“I’m confused why they said it’s not necessary. If they are so strict with a [motorized] pump boat with only 20 passengers, why can’t they do it with these barges which carry hundreds,” Duterte explained, adding that even the mighty Titanic sunk.

The city council, he said, could draft an ordinance that would require the wearing of the vests. Similarly, Samal legislators should pass a measure since both cities are affected.

Asked if the operator of the barges already contacted him, Duterte said there was no effort yet to approach him despite being “close family friends.”

The barges are owned by the Bangayans.

He said that he was not turning a blind eye to the situation.

“I will afford special attention to this problem as I will not wait for the day that we see dead bodies of women and children floating on the Davao gulf just because of your hypocrisy, neglect, and gross misconduct,” he said.

As of press time, Duterte has been invited by Marina regional director Felisa Orongan to a meeting scheduled Tuesday afternoon.