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Monday, October 20, 2014

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, October 17, (PIA) –In an attempt for a win-win solution to the stand-off on motorized boat registrations, due to a government policy to assure maritime communications, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) hints an amendment of the law could solve the problem. 

This too, as the country’s Maritime Authority (MARINA) asserts the need for the registration of all motorized boats used for transportation across the country’s island destinations. 

MARINA is the agency mandated to oversee and regulate the registration and safe operation of ships plying domestic and international port of destinations. 

Now, as the government demands that boats carrying passengers to any offshore destination in the country would have a radio communications installed, the same regulation applies to motorized bancas carrying tourists to dolphin and whale watching tours, dive tours or island hopping activities in Bohol. 
And just as MARINA Memorandum Circular MC No. 4-09-88 says no passenger or cargo vessel shall attempt to leave any Philippine port without the prescribed radio installation on board, the problem is that boat operators insist that other than the logical permits and certifications demanded, radio installation is allegedly impractical. 

“It is expensive, impractical and bulky compared to a the easily available mobile phone technology,” assert boat owners who see that a radio installation on a boat also needs a National Telecommunications Commission franchise. 

“We are just fishers who pick up tourists on island tours as an alternative livelihood, we can’t afford the radio requirement” a boat operator from Pamilacan Island in Baclayon argued. 

For this, Tagbilaran Coast Guard Station Commander Lieutenant Junior grade Robinson Madriaga suggests, organize and come up with a position paper proposing an amendment to the law.” 

Speaking over at Kapihan sa PIA Thursday, the PCG head seid he has been reminding his substation commanders to tell small boats owners, unregistered because of the MARINA standoff, to at least put up a semblance of communications system with the coast guard using mobile systems. 

The instruction also states that boat captains need to contact the PCG upon leaving port and upon coming in, details a PCG who is assigned in Panglao substation. 

On this, PCG thinks there is something the government and the boat operators can agree on the problem. 

“Without radio communications installed in their boat however, it could be difficult to get to the boat in times of distress, and directing search and rescue teams could be hard,” MARINA said. 

The NTC, the sole body which exercises jurisdiction over the all telecommunications services in the country, said they are demanding maritime radio communications for the assurance of safety and security of boats while at high seas or off port. 

NTC says boats with bay and river operation should have a VHF radio with capability on 156.8/156.6/156.3 MHz while those with coastwise operation use an SSB with capability on 2182/4125/6215.5 KHz or a VHF radio with capability on 156.8/156.6/156.3 MHz 

Now in Bohol, almost a hundred boat operators in Panglao alone, are struggling with the requirements: mandatory installation of Navigational Telex (NAVtex) and Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacons EPIRB, as per MC No.01-01-02. 

A NavTelex is an international, automated system for instantly distributing maritime navigational warnings, weather forecasts and warnings, search and rescue notices and similar information to ships, according to the MARINA. 

On the other hand, a EPIRB is an earth station in the mobile-satellite service, the emissions of which are intended to facilitate search and rescue operations. 

Both radio equipment however, need to be approved by the NTC. (PIABohol/RAC)

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