Cebu tourism officer seeks probe: Bohol bancas bring tourists to Oslob?
Christell Fatima M. Tudtud (The Freeman) - August 23, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Provincial Tourism Officer Joselito "Boboi" Costas said that if reports on bancas from Panglao, Bohol ferrying tourists to Oslob town for whale watching are true, the municipal government should look into the matter.

He said the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) should also investigate if the motor bancas are not illegally operating since the operators may be putting the lives of the tourists at risk.

"If this is true that there are boats based in Panglao going to Oslob for whale shark watching, I think that should be looked into. The Marina should probably look into it. Again, if it is true.  The Oslob local government should be alarmed kay that’s very risky. Kay kung mahitabo na (accidents), usually moingon man gyud ‘asa man padung or asa man gikan’, moingon man gyud na nga gikan sa Oslob,” he said.

The FREEMAN sought Costas’ reaction after the Panglao Coast Guard, in a Facebook post, warned operators of colorum motor bancas not to ferry tourists from Panglao to Oslob without necessary permits.

It advised the tourists who wanted to go to Oslob from Panglao that they should ask their selected travel agency or resort if the motorized bancas they would be riding are “designed to travel”  to distant areas, if they have complete permits from Marina.

Panglao is 135 kilometers away from Oslob.

The Panglao Coast Guard also wanted tourists to check before boarding the vessel if the motorized banca they have chosen has radio communication and life jackets.

“Adventure is fun but this backdoor activity will cost you your life. To all colorum motor banca traveling from Panglao, Bohol to Cebu, let this be a warning. We still have room for you at the Panglao Detention Area,” read Panglao Coast Guard’s Facebook post.

Costas said he would like to know if the town is strictly following visitor management and the “carrying capacity” or limit to the number of visitors who can go whale shark watching each day.

He said his office will coordinate with the local government of Oslob on the matter.

The FREEMAN learned that most of motor bancas carrying tourists from Panglao would dock in a place far from where the whale shark watching activity is.

“Sa mga suok sila mo-dunggo, likod sa sementeryo (sa lungsod),” he added, as most public cemeteries are found near the town’s coastlines.

The town’s coast guard has been constantly securing the shores from any unlawful activities.

Oslob Mayor Jose Tumulak Jr, in a separate interview, assured that the town’s Coast Guard has been constantly monitoring their shores.

He suggested that the Panglao Coast Guard and the local government unit there should also check on the matter as the motor bancas involved come from their area of responsibility.

He said Oslob would monitor this kind of “backdoor activity” and prevent such motor bancas from entering their territory. —/ RHM (FREEMAN)

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