Cebu City legislators want probe on unregistered motor bancas

By: Niña Mae C. Oliverio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | January 25,2024 - 03:04 PM

Cebu City legislators want probe on unregistered motor bancas

A screenshot of Councilor Jun Alcover, Jr. during his privilege speech on Jan. 24. | Screengrab from Sangguniang Panlungsod Cebu City – Secretariat/Facebook

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The privilege speech of Councilor Pastor “Jun” Alcover, Jr. during the council’s regular session on Jan. 24 led the other legislators to meet with the representatives of Naval Forces Central (Navforcen), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).

In Alcover’s privilege speech, he recalled the incident that happened on Jan. 20 where a motor banca sank during the fluvial procession for Fiesta Señor.

READ: 201 vessels to join Fluvial Procession for Fiesta Señor 2024

No. of vessels that join the fluvial parade

Alcover said that according to PCG Commander Mark Larsen Mariano, there were 139 motorized bancas, 31 passenger vessels, 4 speedboats, 24 tugboats, and 6 yachts that participated in the Fluvial Parade.

He also said that Mariano told him that, “Passengers aboard participating vessels/motor bancas with open deck accommodation were required to wear lifejackets all throughout the Fluvial Procession or while at sea.”

“Di ako ang hustong hingtungdan nga musuta sa unsa ang hinungdan sa maong pagkalunod. Kay aduna man kaugalingong imbestigasyon ang Philippine Coast Guard,” Alcover said.

(I am not the right one to investigate the cause of the sinking, because the Philippine Coast Guard is making its investigation.)

“Pero basi sa mga videos nga nikatap sa social media karon. Akong namatikdan nga wala man diay life jacket ang mga pasahero ato na motorized banca,” he added.

(But based on the videos that spread on soial media now, I noticed that the passengers of that motorized banca, did not have life jackets.)

Further, he said that upon learning that there was a senior citizen on board in the said banca, he got even more worried.

READ: Fluvial Procession 2024: 200,000 witness and join the sea ‘parade’

Calls for executive session

With similar incidents that happened in the past, Alcover requested the council the next step they would take to avoid incidents like this in the future.

“Dili igong rason nga wala marehistro ang ubang motorized banca nga nisalmot sa maong Fluvial Parade. Mao ang hinungdan nga wala sila mainspect kabahin sa pagsuot og life jacket,” Alcover said. 

(It is not enough reason that the other motorized banca that joined the fluvial parade were not registered. That is the reason that they did not inspect regarding the wearing of a life jacket.)

“This means that authorities should regulate the sea vessels participating fluvial parade. It means proper authorities must exert efforts to prohibit non-registered sea vessels to join fluvial parades,” he added.

With this, he requested to have an executive session with Navforcen and PCG.

READ: Fluvial parade: A sea procession for the Sto. Niño and Sagrada Familia

PCG and Navforcen

Initially, Alcover included the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) to attend the executive session, but Councilor Phillip Zafra clarified that the fluvial procession was initiated by the church and not the SFI.

“Understandably, kaning mga banca especially kaning nalunod dili ni siya apil sa fluvial. Kana nang mag-atang dinha sa Pasil area unya e-hire na sila sa mga taga-barangay [nga] mosakay sila,” Zafra said.

(Understandably, these bancas especially the one that sunk, it is not included in the fluvial. Those are the ones that wait  in Pasil are an then they will be hired by those in the barangay, who will then ride the banca.)

With this, Zafra supported Alcover’s request to have an executive session with the concerned agencies.

Since the PCG and Navforcen were tasked for the registration of the fluvial procession, these two agencies should be called for the executive session, Zafra said.

The executive session is scheduled on March 6, 2024 which was also agreed by Alcover.

READ: Fiesta Señor Fluvial Procession 2024: Coast Guard grants permit to 183 vessels

Discussions among the councilors

Meanwhile, Councilor Jocelyn Pesquera added that the PCG had to enforce all registrations of the sea vessels, noting that the registration of those who want to participate in the fluvial was at least P15,000.

“Pasabot unta nga ang atoang mga gitahasan sa registration of the vessels should really strictly police the area, not wait for an accident to happen,” Pesquera said.

(That means that those designated for the registration of the vessels should really strictly police the area, and not wait for an accident to happen.)

Zafra said that an executive session is important so they could discuss the issue with the concerned parties.

Meanwhile, Councilor Pancrasio Esparis said that based on his observation during the fluvial procession, he saw that there were members of the PCG patrolling the seawaters.

He also observed that the sea vessels that participated in the event had marks as an indicator that those vessels were registered.

“So, easy to determine kadtong wa marehistro nga way marka diha. Naa may marka to diha sa banca ug ingon man sa vessel naay number nga timailhan nga sila narehistro,” Esparis said.

(It’s so easy to determine those that were not registered to have no marks there. There are marks there in the banca and also in the vessel there are number to show that they were registered.)

Therefore, he added that it was easy to identify the unregistered sea vessels.

READ: Motor banca sinks during fluvial procession

Councilor requests for Marine Protest, to include Marina

In the middle of the legislators’ discussion, Councilor Rey Gealon recalled that PCG and Marina had a memorandum of agreement signed on Jan. 7, 2014, regarding the Marine Protest.

According to the memorandum, the Marine Protest is “a declaration on oath by the master, of the circumstances attending the damage or loss of his vessel, intended to show that the loss occurred by the perils of the sea, and concluding with a protestation against any liability of the owner to the freighters.”

It was supposed to be filed within 24 hours after the incident, Gealon said.

Moreover, Gealon said that the city should not wait for another maritime tragedy to transpire, especially those vessels traversing from Cebu City to other neighboring islands within the island of Cebu.

With this, he also requested the Marina to conduct board inquiry on the matter.

As agreed by the council members, the executive session in March will be attended by PCG, Navforcen, and Marina.

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TAGS: Cebu City Council, fluvial procession, Navforcen

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