CEBU CITY — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Central Visayas on Tuesday (26.2.19) activated the Southern Cebu substation to ensure the safety of tourists visiting different tourism spots in the southern tip of the province.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Michael Encina, PCG-Central Visayas spokesperson, said the activation of the substation was the outcome of the inter-agency summit on safety and security held in the towns of Badian and Oslob.
The summit was conducted following the issuance of a travel advisory by the United Kingdom last month, warning its citizens against going to southern Cebu after the twin explosions in a church in Jolo, Sulu.
Commodore Ronnie Gil Gavan, commander of PCG in Central Visayas, intended to strengthen maritime safety and security in southern Cebu, which is the southern gateway from Mindanao, Encina said. Gavan was joined by Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 (Central Visayas) director, Chief Supt. Debold Sinas and Central Command commander, Lt. Gen. Noel Clement, in engaging tourism sector stakeholders in the south of Cebu.
The summit was organized by Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV). After the summit, Dino requested the UK government to lift the travel advisory for fear it may affect the tourism industry in the area.
Subsequently, on Feb. 8, UK lifted the travel ban covering south of Cebu.
“The intention of our commander is to increase our presence in the area so that mabantayan natin ng maayos ang mga turista ng (we can closely watch the tourists in) southern Cebu,” Encina told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.
He explained that the PCG in the region has an existing maritime campaign plan in securing the coast of Central Visayas.
“Meron po tayong campaign plan na I-CARE na magpapatuloy sa ating mga programa (We have a campaign plan called I-CARE),” he said. I-CARE stands for Intensified Community Assistance Response Enforcement which has the aim of securing the maritime community, he added.
Under this campaign plan of PCG in the region, a substation was opened in Camotes Island.
Gavan pronounced during the summit in Brumini Beach in Oslob last February 3 that declaring south Cebu as a separate substation would mean having a coast guard vessel on standby in the southern corridor of the Visayan seawater.
Encina said aside from protecting the tourists, the substation will also boost the campaign against illegal fishing in the area.
He said under I-CARE, the coast guard “is committed to make the whole of the Central Visayas safe,” due to its intensified maritime law enforcement and security.
Aside from law enforcement and security, he said, PCG’s other commitment to the maritime community are “environmental protection, safety administration, and search and rescue in case of maritime incidents, such as sea mishap of passenger or cargo vessels”. (PNA)