MARINA issues safety tips after Iloilo Strait sea tragedy

By: Jennifer P. Rendon 

The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) issued safety recommendations as part of its investigation result on the Iloilo Strait tragedy that happened Aug. 3, 2019.

It might be a surprise for some who expected that the investigation report would point out liabilities in the incident.

But it is also possible that the accountability of personnel and institutions might be in another report that has yet to be released.

Mayor Eugenio Reyes of Buenavista, Guimaras revealed that he wrote Vice Admiral Narciso Vingson Jr., MARINA officer-in-charge, on Oct 14 to ask for a copy of the investigation result relative to the tragedy that claimed 31 lives.

In his letter, Reyes stressed the importance of the investigation since “it was one of the worse, if not the worst tragedy, that ever happened in the locality.”

“Such result will be our guide in the formulation and implementation of various programs and projects concerning the motor it crew and porters, as well as improve the operation of our sea transport,” Reyes said.

In response, Vingson forwarded Reyes a copy of the “safety recommendation relative to the incidents from the Department of Transportation for your reference.”

The joint Philippine Coast Guard-MARINA Marine Safety Investigation Report provided safety recommendations to ship owner/operator/master/association and for the port management/administrator/operator.

For the boat operators and association, the recommendations are:

  1. To strictly adhere with MARINA Memorandum Circular No. 180 (Rules to Govern Passenger Manifest on board Philippine Registered Vessels;
  2. To adopt additional measures to ensure that the passenger manifest contains the confirmed name of actual passengers onboard;
  3. To ensure that every passenger on board are wearing life jackets before and during the entire voyage;
  4. To support the phase-out of wooden-hulled ships in light of heh DOTr’s transportation modernization plan; and
  5. To ensure the master and crew of motorbancas have taken the Modified Basic Safety Training, especially on the proper use of distress signal apparatus and radio communication equipment.

Meanwhile, the port management was advised:

  1. To establish a consolidated ticketing system (e-ticketing system) to ensure correctness of passenger manifest and avoid excess passengers; and
  2. To improve port facilities that will accommodate operation of ships with technologically improved hull material.

Meanwhile, MARINA approved on October 25 specifications for the use of tarpaulin covers for motor bancas on the Iloilo City-Guimaras route.

This, after motor banca passengers to and from Guimaras complained of the rain and the scorching sun while at sea.

Motor bancas are prohibited from unfurling tarpaulin covers as a condition for allowing them to ferry passengers. The tarpaulin cover has been blamed for trapping most of the 31 casualties inside two ill-fated pump boats last Aug 3.

But under the new guidelines, canvass awning or tarpaulins are now allowed on motor bancas.

“Very straight forward ang guidelines. It tells that the canvass awning should not be more than 50 percent of the overall length of the motor banca and the width should not be more than 80 percent of the motor banca’s width,” according to Commodore Allan Victor dela Vega, PCG-Western Visayas commander.

The height of the tarpaulin should be 1.8 meter from the highest shell of the hull of the motor banca.

“These are designed guidelines that is easy to be complied by our banca operators,” he said.

Dela Vega said they had a meeting with motor banca operators of Buenavista and Jordan on Oct. 26 after the memorandum was issued.

They already agreed with the guidelines, he said.

Dela Vega said it’s up to banca owners when they will apply the alterations in the canvass awning or tarpaulin.