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PCG hindering removal of stranded vessels

/ 09:38 PM January 10, 2014

This is a reaction to the photo of the stranded marine vessels in Tacloban City, taken by Niño Jesus Orbeta (Across the Nation, 1/8/14).

One of the ships stranded on land is ours. We started working on removing our ship three weeks or so after the typhoon, and we know that the owners of the other stranded vessels have started their work since before the Christmas season.

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We are not at a loss about how to remove our vessel, as the photo caption stated. (We are business people who see lost revenues when are our ships aren’t used.) For our part, we have hired people who have the expertise to do such a job. And we have contracted some residents in the area to help us do the job, as recommended by the head of the barangay where our ship is stranded.

We realize the need to remove the vessel soonest, more so because it reminds people of the “Yolanda” tragedy. Unfortunately, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Eastern Visayas demanded that we stop our work and apply for permits to tow out our vessels. These permits usually take an average of three months to secure. And because the PCG office in Tacloban sustained heavy  damage from the typhoon, it might take us even longer to get them. I personally don’t understand why the PCG wants to follow normal rules and regulations in these abnormal situations. But if this is what it wants, we will abide by its decision.

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But then the PCG is sending mixed signals. In an article in the Cebu Daily News on Jan. 6, the PCG chief in Eastern Visayas was quoted as saying that the PCG will do away with the usual process and grant emergency permits. When our people went to the PCG office to secure the emergency permits, they were told to comply with the same three-month long procedure! What is happening here?

It is not the owners of these vessels who are at a loss as to what to do; it is the government, more specifically the PCG.

We know what to do and we have been doing it without any  help from the PCG until this office decided that it needed to earn and fees should be paid, depending on the size of the ship and how long it would take to remove it.

I hope rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson will be able to do something about the rules and regulations that are not helping the Visayas. In these abnormal instances rules should be facilitating, not hindering.

Everyone affected by the typhoon wants the rehabilitation work to proceed in earnest so they can start anew with their lives, return to normal existence and move on. And in this our government should help clear the way, not put up obstacles.

—JOCELYN VILLONO,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Letters to the Editor, Marine vessels, Niño Jesus Orbeta, opinion, Philippine Coast Guard, tacloban city, Yolanda
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