By: Raymund F. Antonio
The All Saints’ Day exodus in various ports nationwide started yesterday with 54,957 shipping passengers leaving for their home provinces.
The Philippine Coast Guard Action Center recorded that they were bound for Eastern and Central Visayas, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Northern Mindanao, Bicol, and Palawan, among others.
PCG said the most number of outbound passengers as of 12 noon yesterday were from Western Visayas with 16,457, followed by Central Visayas with 10,007.
Southern Tagalog and Palawan had 9,343 and 3,838 outbound passengers, respectively, the PCG said.
The Coast Guard yesterday activated its “Oplan: Biyaheng Ayos” until Nov. 6 to ensure the safety of travelers going to and from the provinces in observance of the All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days.
This means that all PCG stations and detachments nationwide have been placed on heightened alert to ensure safe sea travel.
Passengers Assistance Centers have been made available for shipping passengers, jointly manned by personnel from PCG, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Ports Authority, and other government offices.
PCG spokesman Captain Armand Balilo said Coast Guard personnel had begun the inspection of passenger vessels and ferry boats in the ports.
The inspections involved the checking of life jackets, fire-fighting equipment, and other safety devices.
He said the PCG would also ensure that there would be no overloading of boats and ships.
Balilo appealed for passengers’ cooperation as the PCG started the implementation of tighter security measures in the ports and ferry terminals.
The chief of the PCG public affairs office reminded those traveling by sea not to take “fly-by-night” or colorum interisland vessels.