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Yuletide season security: Heightened alert for Christmas

(The Freeman) - December 21, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - With Christmas just around the corner, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Quarantine have also adopted a heightened alert status to ensure the safety and security of passengers.

Coast Guard District Cebu Commander Enrico Evangelista said PCG ships and rescue personnel are already on standby to respond to any emergency.

“All PCG stations are all on heightened alert due to the increasing influx of passengers,” he said.

Based on their Passenger Assistance Monitoring as of noon yesterday, Evangelista said PCG recorded 16,664 outbound passengers and 12,199 inbound passengers in the cities of Cebu, Tagbilaran and Dumaguete.

He said at least 90 PCG personnel were deployed to oversee the “busy” seaports of the three cities, with 64 of them assigned in Cebu.

At the port area, help desks and passenger assistance centers were activated, safety inspections were religiously observed in all seaports and terminals. Sea marshals are also deployed inside passenger vessels as part of Oplan Ligtas Biyahe: Unsas 2015, which is a program of the Department of Transportation and Communication.

Aside from those measures, tarpaulins showing a list of prohibited items were likewise displayed to guide passengers as they would not get delayed in their travel by being flagged by security officers.

Bureau of Quarantine-7 Chief Terence Anthony Bermejo, on the other hand, assured that protocols on safety procedures are being observed strictly in all ingress points like the Mactan Cebu International Airport.

“We are still on heightened alert. We will screen passengers to secure the public from possible deadly diseases,” he said.

Bermejo said five of his personnel are deployed at the airport 24 hours daily to conduct MERS-COv and Ebola virus disease (EVD) screening of passengers coming in from abroad by manning four thermal scanners.

Upon disembarking the aircraft, the passengers are made to pass through the aerobridge before they can proceed to the terminal lobby or arrival area.

Bermejo said regular screening procedures are implemented, like health declaration checklists that passengers are required to fill out for contact tracing.

Help desks and public assistance counters were likewise set up at airport’s departure and arrival areas.

Airport authorities will intensify security and conduct more visible and frequent security monitoring of all facilities in airports, in cooperation with police forces.

As to the dawn masses, Police Regional Office-7 Director Manuel Gaerlan said that while the first six Misa De Gallos were generally peaceful, adjustments in their security measures are still being made for more secure and safe observance of the holidays.

He said he instructed his men to adopt not just the general patrolling system, or conducting operations randomly or whenever the police wanted to, but a scientific approach towards managing patrols.

“Kasi dati, kapag nagpa-patrolling, parang tsamba-tsamba lang. Hindi pwedeng pabara-bara lang,” he said.

Gaerlan said policemen should study crime data and crime statistics for them to be able to really pin down the lawless elements.

“Hindi lang kalat-kalat. May focus patrol system, may focus police operations on certain areas,” he said.

Gaerlan said they should study the pattern where and when criminals go out to prey on the public for authorities to know which part and at what period they should concentrate on their operations.

He cited as example the usual time churchgoers would usually leave their homes to attend the Misa De Gallo so police could secure them and ensure their safety.

“Part yon ng instruction ko na siyempre pag time ng labasan ng bahay, going to churches, siyempre yung patrol cars natin, yung police officers shall be visible to prevent and deter crimes; that’s actually part of the adjustments,” said Gaerlan. (FREEMAN)

 

ACIRC BERMEJO BUREAU OF QUARANTINE CEBU CHIEF TERENCE ANTHONY BERMEJO COAST GUARD DISTRICT CEBU COMMANDER ENRICO EVANGELISTA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR MANUEL GAERLAN GAERLAN MACTAN CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT PASSENGERS
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