DOTr chief suspends PCG, Marina execs over Iloilo mishap

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
DOTr chief suspends PCG, Marina execs over Iloilo mishap
Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has ordered the relief of Cmdr. Perlita Cinco, PCG commander in Iloilo and Cmdr. Jolouvis Mercurio in Guimaras.

MANILA, Philippines — Officials of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) in Western Visayas were relieved following last week’s sea tragedy at the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait that killed 31 people.

Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has ordered the relief of Cmdr. Perlita Cinco, PCG commander in Iloilo and Cmdr. Jolouvis Mercurio in Guimaras.

PCG personnel Joe Luviz Mercurio, Felixberto Salibio Jr., Chief Petty Officer Felixberto Salibio Jr. and Seaman First Class Ricky John Eric Mijares were also relieved from their posts.

Tugade also ordered the relief of Marina’s Western Visayas director Rizal Victoria and reassigned him to the Office of the Deputy Administrator for Operations at the Marina central office. 

Another Marina employee, Juliet Nacion, section head of the agency’s franchising section, was moved to the Office of the Regional Director in Iloilo.

Marina’s Maritime Safety Service director Jose Venancio Vero Jr. and Maritime Safety Service Division chief Bernardo Pollo were also relieved.

Tugade issued the order to PCG Commandant Adm. Elson Hermogino and Marina acting administrator Narciso Vingson during his visit in Guimaras last Wednesday.

He said the relief of the PCG and Marina officials would allow “a more thorough and impartial investigation” of last week’s sea tragedy.

“This incident (also) serves as a wake up call that we need to modernize our boats. The modernization should not only be for the vehicles on our roads. It must also include those in our seas, including our boats,” Tugade added.

Squalls caused by monsoon winds had tipped over three wooden-hulled outriggers in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait last Aug. 3.

The PCG and Marina have terminated search and rescue operations in the Iloilo-Guimaras tragedy after accounting for all 31 casualties.

Tugade has also ordered Marina to expedite the release of permits of Ro-Ro vessels to to augment the number of ships plying the Guimaras-Iloilo route while a suspension on wooden hull bancas is in place.

As a form of assistance, Tugade pledged to help provide qualified family members of victims with employment to Marina, PCG and the Philippine Ports Authority.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) yesterday said Typhoon Hanna continues to intensify as it threatens the Southern Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

The weather bulletin said the outer rainbands of Hanna will bring moderate to heavy rains and gusty winds over Batanes and Babuyan Group of Islands until today –  areas under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 1.

Hanna was located at 505 kilometers northeast of Basco, Batanes at 4 p.m. yesterday. With maximum sustained winds of 185 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph, the typhoon is moving northwest at 20 kph.

“Moderate to heavy monsoon rains will be experienced over Metro Manila, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, northern portions of Palawan (including Calamian and Cuyo Islands), Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras, Zambales, Bataan, Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan,” Pagasa said.

The Pagasa advisory also said light to moderate with at times heavy monsoon rains will prevail over Ilocos region, Cordillera Administrative Region, and the rest of Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Western Visayas.

For today, the state weather bureau said moderate to heavy monsoon rains may affect Ilocos, the Cordilleras, Zambales, Bataan and Occidental Mindoro. Light to moderate with at times heavy monsoon rains may be experienced over Metro Manila and the rest of Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Mimaropa.

Residents in these areas are advised to take precautionary measures, coordinate with local disaster risk reduction and management offices, and continue monitoring updates.

PAGASA added gusty conditions will continue over the western sections of Luzon and Visayas due to the enhanced southwest monsoon.

It also warned that sea travel is risky over the seaboards of areas under signal No. 1, the seaboards of Luzon and Visayas, and the northern and eastern seaboards of Mindanao due to potentially rough sea conditions.

Hanna is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility this morning.

A low-pressure area that was spotted some 180 kms west northwest of Dagupan City, Pangasinan has dissipated.

At the same time, Typhoon Krosa estimated at 1,950 kilometers east of extreme Northern Luzon is slowly moving northwest at 155 kph near the center.

PAGASA said Krosa is not expected to enter the Philippine area of responsibility.

Officials said the continuous rains brought by the southwest monsoon being pulled by the storms had elevated the water level in the dams in Bulacan to “minimum operating level.” – Robertzon Ramirez, Rhodina Villanueva, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Rudy Santos

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