The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Iloilo province said on Saturday that “Malasakit” help desks established at ports here will assist the traveling public during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
The establishment of the “Malasakit” help desks is part of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade’s directive to provide travelers with safe and comfortable transport.
Bracing for the holiday rush, Capt. Erlin Benliro of PCG-Iloilo said five of Iloilo’s major ports have established “Malasakit’ help desks manned by personnel of the PCG, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), police, and local government officials, among others.
The public can approach the help desk for any form of assistance, Benliro said in an interview, noting that the rush of travelers is expected on December 23-24.
“If they lose track of their location, the Malasakit help desk is there to provide direction. They can also get information on the schedule and cancelation of trips,” she said.
Benliro said 75 PCG personnel will man each sub-station and port.
The five major ports in Iloilo are the Iloilo fast craft and roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) terminal which caters to passengers from Iloilo to Bacolod and vice versa; the Ortiz wharf, Lapuz wharf, and Parola wharf, which serve as Iloilo’s gateways from the island province of Guimaras; and the Iloilo Integrated Arrastre Services Corp., which facilitates the entry and exit of big ships from Manila and Bacolod.
“Our personnel and the help desks are on alert against any untoward incident,” Benliro said.
The PCG-Iloilo has two vessels, four aluminum boats, and one jetski to respond to any emergency.
All sea vessels, before every trip, are inspected by the PCG to ensure seaworthiness.
“Every time they seek clearance from the Coast Guard, they are being checked it they comply with the right number of life jackets, right load of passengers, and if they follow what is written in the certificate of public convenience being issued by the Maritime Industry Authority,” she said.
Benliro appealed to passengers not to bring any contraband to avoid delays on their trips.
Firecrackers, for one, will be confiscated at the ports if the passenger cannot present supporting documents for their transport.
“If it (firecrackers) is for personal use and the passenger has a receipt to show and prove that it is for personal consumption, it may be allowed. But if it is a bulk of firecrackers, the passenger must present a business permit because maybe it is for business, receipt, and the permit to carry from the police or the local government unit,” she said.
She also appealed to the passengers to cooperate with the authorities and to follow regulations being implemented at the ports. (PNA)