Vessel from China allowed to anchor on humanitarian grounds

Mayor Rene Gustilo of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental (Left). | M/V sea music photo from web

By Dolly Yasa

Bacolod City – Despite the Executive Order issued by Mayor Rene Gustilo of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental prohibiting foreign vessels from China from entering the city’s waters, M/V Sea Music, which came from the Chinese port city of Ningde, was allowed to lay anchor off Sipaway Island.

Lt. Commander Jansen Benjamin, Philippine Coast Guard-Negros Occidental (PCG) chief, said the shipping company which operates M/V Sea Music appealed to authorities to allow the vessel to enter the city’s waters on “humanitarian grounds.”

Benjamin said the vessel has 21 people on board, including 15 Filipinos, and was running short of food and freshwater.

The PCG commander said a boarding team which included an official from the Bureau of Quarantine visited the vessel and confirmed that all of the crew are in good health and no one went ill while en route to the country.

“The shipping company promised that the ship will immediately leave once provisioning is done,” he said.

Benjamin said while the vessel had already received food supply, the barge that was supposed to bring fresh water to the ship has yet to arrive.

Benjamin said it would be more dangerous if local officials did not allow it to resupply fresh water, which is needed to maintain cleanliness and hygiene aboard the ship.

Benjamin also explained that the vessel was supposed to go on “lay-up” in the city, meaning the vessel will park off the city’s coast while awaiting its new assignment.

But due to Gustilo’s order, the vessel will proceed to Cebu instead.

Based on the executive order issued on Thursday, Gustilo said he made the decision based on guidelines issued by the Department of Health and recommended the ship be redirected to Cebu City or Manila.

He added that the city is not ready to handle nCoV cases.

Gustilo affirmed foreign vessels originating from China, Hong Kong, and Macau will be barred from entering city waters.